International Sub Races–Part One


David Taylor Model Basin sign.
Everything here is BIG.

So after a few days off for college orientation, I headed down to Marion to meet with Vin again on Friday June 21st. I met his friend and coworker, Neil, at his house. From Vin’s house we headed to Rodger Williams University, to pick up his daughter, Amy. So basically we left Vin’s house at noon, and arrived at the hotel in Maryland around 1130. Subtracting a little while for food and gas, that was probably about 10 hours in Vin’s truck. Without headphones. I thought 6 hour rides to Maine were long… this was something else.

The international sub races are basically an engineering competition on who can build the best human powered submarine. They are held at a military base in Maryland that contains the David Taylor Model Basin, which is really just a really deep and really really really long pool.

The basin lit up for the races!
The basin lit up for the races!
BIG swimming pool.
The Basin before any race lighting. You CANNOT see the end. It’s almost half a mile away.

The next few days were a lot of paperwork and getting stuff together. On Saturday Vin went to the base to do fancy official things, and the minions (Neil, Amy, and myself)  were left to pick up another member of the group at the airport. After that we relaxed for a bit (not too long, don’t worry) before going to a volunteers dinner. After that we got back to the hotel (eventually, Vin had a littleeeee trouble with the gps) and went to bed to get on the base bright and early the next morning. Sunday we went on base for the first time. I really don’t think I can do it justice in the blog, but basically it is giant, long building with a pool 20ft deep, 50feet across, and a couple of THOUSAND feet long. So Sunday was a weird day, a lot of the paperwork was backlogged, so we weren’t too hectic at the dive station. We inspected a lot of the participants tanks, but other than that didn’t do too much. I was able to suit up with Amy and splash to take a look around underwater! We did a little work underwater to help set up the course. Diving in the basin is truly indescribable, just the immense size and the dark lighting. After getting out we headed back to the hotel where the participants were briefed and we did more paperwork!


Monday was a little boring, a lot of people around and things got very crowded and hectic. I did not get in the water and ended up just doing a lot of paperwork. Tuesday was much better though! We started off diving with Dan Dozier, who is sort of the liaison between ISR and the military. He works at caderrock and immensely helps coordinate the sub races. So, Amy and I got in the water with him first thing to help him inspect some support structures for the diving platform. Following that I stayed in the water most of the day, observing wet safety inspections on the subs or otherwise helping out where I could. One of the subs props hit and broke a light on the course, so I ended up swimming from one end of the course to the other to get a replacement. Thanks to Ricky, who tried to convince me that line cutters were generally better than knives, no way I could have gotten the replacement light un-zip-tied without damaging it with a knife! Also, Ed (instructor who I worked with at Ricky’s) was there with a bunch of there students. I was very happy to see them successfully complete the course after a number of setbacks.

Flags from the nations participating at the races
The races are a big international events with teams from all over the world