Periscope Eclipse

Shortly after I reported aboard USS Odax, we went into the yard and had big holes cut into our pressure hull to install a new battery. This was a big deal, of course. After a couple of months of industrial activity aboard, we then were required to prove that we could remember how to run the boat, both on the surface and while submerged. This process goes by the name of RefTra, or Refresher Training.
On March 7, 1970 we entered a phase of RefTra known as Fast Cruise. We had to perform a sequence of tasks aboard, using our equipment and training. We just weren't at sea at the time. We were moored fast to the pier.

The training and testing went on all day. My work station was in the conning tower.

We hung a chart with its face to the Torpedo Data Computer, so that we could draw on the blank side of it. About halfway through the day, we began outlining the shape of the sun on the back of that chart.

We were using the periscope to focus the image of the sun onto the chart. There was a sun filter in the periscope, so that we could use the sextant that was built into the scope to shoot sun lines and "local apparent noon" for navigation at sea. That's how we were getting the image of the sun.

When totality hit, we went crazy! We abandoned the conning tower and went out on deck to look all around. It was over quickly.

I won't try to describe totality. Annie Dillard has written the best description of the sensations of the reality. She had the words and the sensibility to do it justice.

When the edge of the sun returned, so did the rest of reality.