It was around this time in 1921 that a submarine crew in the Pacific Ocean found an unusual way forward.
It had to sail back to port with the help of some sails made of blankets.
This is the story of the sub known as R-14.
It was out looking for the tugboat USS Conestoga, which had gone missing.
R-14 wasn’t able to find the ship; in fact, Conestoga wouldn’t be found until 2009.
But there was another problem: the sub was essentially out of the diesel fuel it needed to fuel its batteries.
And it didn’t have enough battery power to get back to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
If that wasn’t bad enough, R-14 also lost radio contact with the Navy.
It was essentially stuck in the water and couldn’t even call for help, and it only had about five days’ worth of food for the crew.
While the sub didn’t have fuel, it did have some power: brain power.
Engineering officer Roy Trent Gallemore realized that while it was on the surface of the water, the submarine was a ship.
And ships can be sailed.
The crew took the frames of their bunk beds and tied them to a crane for loading torpedoes.
That served as a frame for a sail; the sail itself was made from eight hammocks.
It was basic, but it was enough to get R-14 moving, so the crew made another sail out of blankets, and then another.
The sub-turned-sailboat arrived in Hawaii 64 hours after getting stuck, undoubtedly causing a few jaws to drop on shore.
The military gave R-14’s commander a special commendation to honor a submarine crew that found a clever way to handle a big challenge.
As Christopher Cross might have sung, if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility/Oh, the blankets can do miracles, just you wait and see
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A Submarine Made it Home with a Sail Made of Blankets (War History Online)