Men of Iron
Continuing a family legacy beneath the waves
Heat, humidity and chlorine hang in the air like a thick blanket and the flip-flop and intermittent squeak of flip flops echo down the hall.
This is the submarine escape trainer at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut and elite Navy divers run the show.
Gathered around the 37-foot training tank, the divers discuss the day's schedule before submarine students arrive. Wrapped in a blue robe, waiting for his first training dive of the morning is Petty Officer 2nd Class Frank Phelan, a high risk training instructor at the school house.
His day-to-day workday revolves around teaching students the basics and hazards of submarine escape, but he also comes from a military family.
"I had a lot of family in the military," said Phelan. "My uncle, my mother's brother, was a Navy diver back in the late 70s."
During that era of Navy diving, divers wore the MK-5, a 280-pound suit of mostly heavy brass.