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Do Submarines Always Require Expensive Equipment?

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to help maneuver a submarine, you might already know -- especially if you enjoy playing video games. The U.S. Navy is now using Microsoft Xbox 360 controllers to maneuver the photonics masts -- which replaced periscopes -- on its Virginia-class submarines. Naval service members generally find the Xbox controllers much easier to use than the helicopter-type joysticks that had traditionally been employed. The change will also save the U.S. government an ocean of cash. A standard photonics mast handgrip and imaging control panel costs approximately $38,000 USD, while an Xbox controller is priced at about $30. The first submarine put into service with the Xbox controller was the USS Colorado, which was commissioned in March 2018.

Making waves:

  • The British nuclear submarine HMS Artful can remain underwater for 25 years; breathable air can be produced from sea water.
  • U.S. submarine crews have a "lucky" cribbage board; ever since World War II, it has always been passed on to whichever active Pacific fleet submarine is the oldest.
  • If a U.S. naval submarine is lost at sea, it is listed as "still on patrol."
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