Former Groton Sailors Talk Submarines in Podcast

On Saturdays around midnight on the East Coast, and usually over a glass of scotch or something else, Josh Toth and Walter Lyon shoot the breeze.

The former Navy divers, who were last assigned to the USS Toledo, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, now live on separate coasts but have started a weekly podcast called "Diver Tough," made up of their recorded Skype conversations.

They largely talk about their silent service days, but their topics run the gamut from gun control to water moccasins. Stay tuned on the latter.

Lyon and Toth's conversations are as open ended as one would expect between two friends who have a standing date to catch up. They've discussed how a single cook evacuated an entire submarine, the Office of Personnel Management data breach, the Tough Mudder obstacle race, the popular Netflix documentary "Making a Murderer," the IRS upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, their affinity for primitive camping and, yes, water moccasins.

The podcast is broken into different segments such as "Tales from the Seven Seas," during which they tell sea stories, and "Shipmate Advancement Boards," which highlights former submariners and what they're doing now.

Now 16 episodes deep and ranked as an iTunes New and Noteworthy podcast, a simple text message from Lyon to Toth launched "Diver Tough."

The two lived on the same floor in the barracks while going through Basic Enlisted Submarine School at the Naval Submarine Base, but it wasn't until they landed on the Toledo that they really got to know each other.

They see the podcast as a way to bring an understanding of the submarine force to the masses. While a large percentage of their audience are Navy veterans, they've also attracted curious civilians interested in hearing about submarine life.

"Submariners don't do a good job of selling how cool their lifestyle is," Toth says.

The number of listeners continues to grow. In January alone, they had more than 5,000 listeners.

Recently, they've noticed that a lot of sailors going through sub school are listening. In a way, they said, the podcast is like a prep course for the sub school sailors of what their day-to-day routine will be like on a submarine.

One of the more popular anecdotes came in Episode 003: "The Ship is Underway!" The crew was on a mission on the Toledo for what felt like forever when the captain decided to give everyone time to relax. They pulled the Toledo off station and had a swim call in the middle of the ocean. While everyone was swimming, Lyon and Toth, both divers, were the bona fide lifeguards for the swim.

Mid-swim, Lyon saw what looked like a tire floating to the surface. He pointed it out to Toth. That "tire" was a water moccasin, a venomous sea snake, and there was no anti-venom aboard the submarine.

Lyon screamed, "Water moccasin!" Everybody stared back at him. One of the "nukes," or nuclear officers, said, very seriously, "Well that can't be possible. Water moccasins are only indigenous to the southern Florida area."

Lyon continued to shout for everyone to get out of the water, which they did without anyone getting bitten.

Toth and Lyon mention during the episode that they'd conferred with the corpsman on board, essentially the doctor, and he'd confirmed that there was no anti-venom on board.

"I've probably told that story, outside of the podcast, a bazillion times," Toth says. "I can go through the whole thing now and I still laugh."

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or at www.divertough.com.

j.bergman@theday.com

Twitter: @JuliaSBergman ___

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