Isolation and restricted communications posed potentially severe morale problems for married submariners—about half the enlisted men and two-thirds of the officers—and their families during the Cold War. SSBN patrols typically lasted 60 to 80 days, while SSNs normally deployed for six months. During the height of the Cold War, communications between ship and shore were extremely limited for security reasons. Periodically, submarines received a single message called a "familygram" with family news for all crew members. Each family had space for only a few words, and it was strictly one-way; no one on board could be allowed to respond. Nowadays, when operations permit, e-mail may provide some relief for divided families, but long separations remains one of the hardships of submarine life.

"Familygrams" were little more than postcard-length messages from family to crew, infrequently delivered.

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