It is timely that a medical officer speak to you about operational experience in food service aboard nuclear submarines. In the past, primarily by reason of their lack of senority, medical officers were commonly introduced to the romance of the submarine with collateral duties of commissary officers.
Menu selection is a relatively easy matter. Guidelines are provided by the Navy recipe service. Variety is assisted by recognition of national holidays, birthdays, and minority group specialty dishes. There are relatively wide latitudes of flexibility in provisioning to take care of tastes of the various crews. Use of ration dense foods is encouraged.
Equipment is similar to that of any ship or galley charged with serving 100 to 150 persons. Space is minimal for food preparation, so special effort toward advanced planning is required. Particular attention is taken in food preparation to prevent prolonged standing of creamed items and to assure sufficient eve cooking of poultry to eliminate bacterial contamination. All heating devices are electrically powered and special efforts must be taken to prohibit possibly toxic material from coming in contact with heat sources. Examples would include mercury thermostats and avoidance of Teflon in direct contact with heating elements. Cooking odors are exhausted through vents containing appropriate grease traps.
Food storage facilities include chill and freeze boxes and dry-storage areas. The refrigerant used is freon. Leaks of refrigerant are a potential source of halogenated hydrocarbon air contamination. Frequent and careful atmosphere monitoring is required.
Water is a relatively minor problem with the abundant power and still capability available. The major consumption of water is by equipment (reactor and storage batteries). Special care is taken not to distill water in polluted harbors. During in-port periods appropriate bacterial examination of potable-water storage tanks are made.
Liquid waste is discharged through the sanitary tank system. Solid wastes and debris are placed in synthetic bags, weighted, and discharged through a garbage ejector.
Any one of these items could be a subject of a lengthy discussion. Many of the problems and solutions have no relevance to the space mission. It is quite clear, however, that man, whether in outer or inner space, must eat and that failure to consider carefully all aspects of this need can have a profound influence on the completion of the mission.