Mike Masishin is a cold war, submarine sailor. He worked in the "nerve center" in the submarine. The control room. Mike was stationed for 4 years aboard ballistic missile submarines, including USS Alexander Hamilton and SSBN 617 during the height of the Cold War. 1969-1973.
We asked him were his submarines were stationed, but that was classified. The only thing he could tell us, was that the Mediterranian sea were very buissy, and The North Atlantic sea was some really rough water during the winter.
We were lucky enough to get to ask him questions:
Q:What were your thoughts about the future during the height of the Cold War? Did you ever seriously fear for your life, and if so, when?
A: We all prayed that orders for a strategic launch would never come. We were out there to keep the USSR from initiating a first strike. They did not know where we were operating. Of course the same situation existed off our shores. They actively hunted us as we did them with our fast attack submarines. One of our subs, USS Lapon, successfully trailed a Soviet boat for nearly its entire patrol. USSR knew if they struck first that it would effectively be the end game. There would be no reason to sail home. I was never fearful except for the time that there was an announcement that the oxygen generator malfunctioned and smoke emerged from it. It was called away initially as a fire....Oh, also the times that deep draft tankers passed over us while down 250 feet in the Med
Q: Did you ever come close to any Russian submarines? and for how long could the submarine be submerged at a time?
A: No, we never came close to any Soviet submarines.. It was our objective to remain far from any hunter-killer subs. We didn't want to be shadowed by a hunter-killer sub. I worked in the control center of the submarine. We tracked many contacts but never identified any Soviet fast attacks. We remained submerged for a period that averaged 75-80 days.
Q: How did you view the Soviet union during the Cold War? Many Americans might have viewed them as the "big bad wolf", did you think of them as that? Did your view at any point ever change?
A: "Big bad wolf" is not a term I ever considered. We did refer to them as Crazy Ivan. We viewed them as the advesary and opposition in an often potentially dangerous undersea game. We knew they were looking for us off the western coast of Europe and the Med. We hunted them in the Atlantic Ocean. They were still human beings also inside of a armed nuclear submarine doing the job that their leaders had assigned to them. We were ever vigilant but in nearly all respects we were the better trained, better equipped and better paid fighting force. Much if not all of our equipment was superior in construction and design. I maintained that viewpoint until the time I left the Navy and still do today.
The collaboration with Mike Masishin has been really interesting and informative. We are grateful for being able to work together with persons like Mike. And we are looking forward to the continue.
Written by Ola Schei