"One minute you could be in the shower, or in your rack, and the next minute you have to put on all your gear and fight a fire," said Craig. "It's a very quick change, and I think submariners are the best at it."
Ballistic missile submarines can stay underwater indefinitely, producing their own oxygen and water, only needing to surface for food and supplies.
"For us, the world stands still when we leave," said Craig.
When a submarine is underway it has very limited contact with the outside world, so big events and news go unknown by the crew. Craig mentioned the unique experience of leaving home while a popular singer is young and on the Disney channel, only to return and see she's now a big success and has music videos on MTV. For Palowski, a big shock was being underway for the death of Michael Jackson; rumors spread slowly, but the crew didn't believe it was real until they returned home.
"The hardest part is leaving the family behind," said Palowski.
Palowski is married with four kids, and has completed 13 patrols on submarines. Having little to no contact with his family, he describes leaving home with his kids crawling, and returning to a kid who can walk and even speak to him.
Despite these sacrifices and the difficult nature of the job, submariners say there is a lot to take pride in as well.
"Of course [submarines] are the best part of the Navy," said Craig, laughing. "A lot of communities like to think they're the best, but they've never been on a submarine, so..."