Get Down With Submarine Cuisine


Photo by Erik Slavin / S&S, via

Sailors aboard US submarines may have to live confined in an underwater metal tube for up to six months without internet access, but they're dining on vittles worlds better than their land-bound brethren.

Reporter Erik Slavin joined the crew of USS Seawolf in the Pacific and is chronicling his experiences of undersea life for Stars and Stripes. In one of the pieces he cuts to the heart of the matter: the food on a sub is "pretty good," owing mostly to the fact that "[o]n a large surface ship, cooks can hang out with each other amid thousands of anonymous faces. If the meal is bad on a submarine, there is nowhere to hide."

A meal always tastes better when the cook is preparing the food under threat of violence — that's what mom always said. Some of the dishes offered: "short ribs, roast beef, and shrimp get served with potatoes, salad and soups." They also offer soft-serve ice cream. And the best part? Unlimited servings. Starting to reconsider your life as a mere civilian? Us too.

In a 2003 article in the L.A. Times titled "Food aboard U.S. submarines is simply to dive for," Peter Pae wrote entirely on the subject of sub eats. On his visit to the Jefferson City, a nuclear attack sub, he was privy to a meal of a 25-pound prime rib roast, baked lobster tails, sautéed mushrooms, baked potatoes, beef rice soup, fresh baked bread, and, for dessert, chocolate and lemon cakes made by an officer who was a former pastry chef. (In contrast, today I had wimpy scrambled eggs and a floppy piece of toast followed by a fairly flavorless nectarine.)

Of course, if life under the sea still isn't sounding like a great option you can always enjoy submarine cuisine at home with the cookbook Submarine Cuisine (buy at Amazon).

And just for fun, The Telegraph has a list of British submarine food slang. What I wouldn't do for some snorkers and a baby's head right now.

[Stars and Stripes via Wired]

Justine Sterling

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Comment Feed

  1. Emily

    Short ribs and roast beef? I'm joining the Navy.

  2. dave

    sorry Emily, you would be on a target(surface ship) and get served rice 3 times a day. the submarine service is the last place for women to conquer in the military.

    all the food you want to eat, and a bed(that some else may sleep in when you are working your 16 hours) that is 6 feet long, 30 inches wide and you get about 20 inches of height. want to feel what it is like sleep under your coffee table.

    mm2 ss

  3. DFHdez

    I spent a long two days on a sub as part of a tv assignment. We were told that the food was unlimited, and if we didn't like it we should take it anyway and throw it away or we'd wind up having it again at mid-rats (midnight rations). The meat was like shoe leather, the burgers like door stops, the potatoes watery and salty. The meal we had with the captain was nice (roast beef) so I think there may be hierarchic rationing on board.

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