The fast attack, nuclear submarine SSN22 Connecticut has recently hit the news for being infested with bed bugs, according to the Navy Times. Sailors have been complaining since March of 2020 that they have been unable to sleep in their racks for fears of being "eaten alive".
The Military Times has reported that many of the ship's crew feel that their command has been slow to acknowledge or adequately address the bed bug issue, waiting an unnecessarily long time before establishing officially that there was a bed bug infestation.
Sleep and Meal Time: the 2 Favorite Times for a Sailor
As someone who served aboard the Seawolf Class submarine USSN Connecticut almost 20 years ago, I can tell you first-hand what matters most to a sailor when they're working round the clock watches, doing maintenance duty (additional duty), and trying to stay sane when on missions where you don't set foot on land for months on end.
Your 3 meals and chance to sleep represent your only real escape from the daily grind of underway life. When these basics get disturbed, it can actually present a massive problem waiting to fully materialize.
Dangers of the Bedbug Infestation Aboard a Ship
Without adequate sleep, it's entirely possible that sailors could fall asleep while on watch, which is one of the most cardinal of sins for any US Navy sailor. Sailors must steer the ship, mind the sonar and radar, keep their attention on temperature and pressure gauges, and in the case of the Connecticut, avoid any potential meltdown of the nuclear reactor core.
Meanwhile, the Navy had set up cots in an outdoor tent for sailors to sleep in during the bed bug elimination efforts and countermeasure operation, which did not please the ship's crew too much.
Defensive End! the Department of Defense's Go-To Bed Bug Solution?
Fortunately, the Navy has decided to do something about it, and interestingly enough they are using the primary recommended way to get rid of bed bugs that we advocate.
Potential customers in the civilian world can feel some solace knowing that we at Defensive End have been using the same method that expert entomologists brought down from the Navy to prevent bed bugs in the submarine are currently undertaking.
I suppose I should have considered myself lucky back when I was a rider on the Connecticut because for sailors who are not normally ship's crew, we got to sleep in makeshift racks next to torpedoes in what's known as "the bomb room".
Sleeping next to a torpedo for 40 nights has its plusses, I suppose. Even bed bugs don't like heavy munitions and explosives.
Not So Fond Memories
Hearing stories of sailors complaining that the Navy had not addressed the bed bug issue adequately reminded me of my time in the service. I remember how I got placed on gate guard duty after 9/11 to inspect cars for bombs coming into the Army base where I was stationed.
I did not know what a bomb looked like nor how to diffuse one, but they gave me a long stick with a mirror on it anyway, if nothing else to look diligent when stopping each incoming vehicle for inspection. Navy personnel assigned to gate duty were told to show up everyday and no one even knew when we'd have a day off.
We worked 12-hr days often for weeks on end and the command basically forgot about us most of the time. It's kinda depressing, but not surprising in the least.
Which is why maybe on top of the usual bed bug prevention measures being used by the Navy, sailors might also want to put some lavender or spearmint in their essential oil diffusers, one to relax and not go crazy, and the other, because bed bugs don't like the fragrance.