Thursday, May 2, 2019

Two-Whistle Passage

A submarine stands out to sea while a ferry comes into port:

The small craft at the stern of the ferry is one of the armed security boats that escort subs in and out of port. Because terrorism.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Making Steam the RN Way

I had a few old posts on this subject.

A-type boilers were definitely a prewar design in the USN.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

How to Tell If That Script Was Written or Directed by an Amateur

If you're watching a naval-themed movie and somebody says "fire a (name of weapon", that's amateur.

On naval ships, the word "fire" refers to unplanned conflagrations: "Fire on the Flight Deck!" "Fire in the Galley."

The only exception to that is when the word "fire" is coupled with "room": The "Fireroom" (one word) is where the boilers are on an oil-fired ship.

"Fires" (plural) refers to the act of getting a boiler going: "Light fires in 1 Alpha Boiler." "Fires lighted in 1 Alpha Boiler."

If you're going to (or have) discharge a weapon, the word is "Shoot".

If a newbie uses the word "fire" in that context, everyone else who heard that will start making fun of it: "Ready to fire Mount 51." "Oh my God, there's a fire in Mount 51."

I can't think of the movie's name right now, but a few months back, I watched a naval movie in which the characters said "fire" so much, that I almost needed to visit an ophthalmologist to unroll my eyes.

(My hazy recollection is that Sink the Bismarck! got it right.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Charlie Oscar

I don't keep in touch with my ex-service buddies. It's been a hell of a long time and we all change.

So it was with a little sadness that I learned of the passing, last year, of CAPT Guy R. Campbell, III, USN, ret.

Captain Campbell was one of the captains whose crews would have followed him into Hell, without hesitation. When I knew him, he had relieved a captain whose crew would have cheerfully sent him to Hell. He believed in mentoring and training his crews, not in chewing them out. An expression of mild disappointment from him would be devastating, as the person receiving it knew that they had let down the Old Man.

One weekend in home port, his ship was open to the public for topside tours. Unbeknownst to him, his kids (ranging from teenagers to pre-teens) took the public tour. When the sailor giving the tour pointed out the Captain's Gig and explained its function, one of the kids giggled and told a sibling: "That's Daddy's boat." The sailor giving the tour overheard that and told the OOD after the tour group left. The OOD told the CDO, who passed it along to the XO. Captain Campbell went to the sailor's workspace the next work day and apologized for what his kids did. He sure as hell didn't need to do that, but word of it spread through the waterfront like wildfire. That's just one example of why he was beloved by his crews.

Captain Campbell was not one of those captains who would step on his crews in order to please his bosses' in-port horseshit. To him, the welfare of his crew was all, for he knew that if his crew had his back, there was nothing that both they and his ship couldn't do.

Fair wins and following seas, Captain.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Unrep (Pt. I)

I have hesitated for a long time in writing about underway replenishment. For I was mostly an engineer. I'd sit either in Main Control or in the Oil & Water Lab and monitor the progress of refueling. If the ship wasn't taking on fuel, then I'd normally be in Main Control to keep an eye on the plant. There were a few times as an ensign that I was technically "officer in charge" of the forward refueling station, but make no mistake about it: The Second Class Bosun's Mate ran it. My job was to look for safety violations, like someone stepping into the bight of a line.

So I don't know a whole hell of a lot about Unrep. The blogger over at Chaotic Synaptic Activity served aboard an unrep ship. What to me was a weekly or so affair for fuel and monthly for supplies was what he did.

So first, let's talk about supplies.

In port, in the US, supply was more or less a constant thing. If you really needed something, you could walk a chit though at the local supply center.

If the ship was deployed, then all but the most critical parts came on a monthly basis. Sometimes, it came in port. There would be a series of trucks showing up at the pier. An "all hands" working party would be called away to unload them and then pass the supplies from the trucks, up the gangway, through the ship and down into the storerooms. The Supply Officer and his chiefs acted as traffic directors. Department Heads and the XO were safety observers. Everyone else who was not on watch, including chiefs and junior officers, were in the working party. it took several hours.

In-port resupplies of that magnitude were rare. All of the goods had to be brought by a supply ship to another pier or port and offloaded into trucks. There were, understandably, security concerns that ranged from basic theft to terrorism. In foreign ports, the trucks had to be guarded for customs reasons. Both the Navy and the country where the resupply was taking place pretended that the trucks were never in the country.

And it was a pain in the ass. In a foreign port, where the idea was to try and get time of to see the sights (or get drunk and/or laid), nobody wanted to spend a precious day in port humping truckloads of supplies.

The vast majority of monthly resupply evolutions were done at sea.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sub Sunk- Plus 55 Years

55 years ago today, the USS Thresher (SSN-593) was lost. She was the lead ship of her class, which was renamed the Permit class.

The loss of the Thresher uncovered a number of problems with quality control and submarine construction methods. They weren't so much of an issue during the war, but the then-new nuclear submarines could dive about a thousand feet deeper than the American submarines built during the war.

The procedures for constructing and QCing submarines was radically changed with the development and implementation of the SUBSAFE program. No SUBSAFE-certified submarine has been lost, as of today. (USS Scorpion was built before the loss of the Thresher )

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Inspection From Hell

This is no shit:

A few months before this incident, the same ship was visiting another port. Each month, the captain of a ship was supposed to hold an inspection. It could be a zone inspection (working spaces), a messing and berthing inspection, or a personnel inspection.

This particular time, the captain chose to hold a messing and berthing inspection. He started aft at 0900. Farthest aft was Airdale Berthing (the ship had an embarked helo detachment). That was fine.

Next up was the After Head, used by the sailors in Engineering and Aviation Departments. The captain ran his finger under the rim of the toilet bowls to check for a buildup of scum. What he found was some enterprising sailor had packed fecal material under the rim of one of the toilets.

The captain's rage was towering. He went into Engineering Berthing and, basically, tore the place apart. He flipped the mattresses from every bunk on the pretext of looking for contraband. He yanked the sheets from every mattress to see if the mattress was stained. He did the same to every pillow. He was in there for hours. (It seemed longer.)

Next up was the Mess Deck and it got similar treatment. The turmoil was such that the cooks served sandwiches for lunch instead of a planned hot meal with a selection of two main courses. The captain was a little more restrained when he got to the Goat Locker, but not by much. Then it was the turn of Supply Berthing, which got almost the same treatment as the Engineers did.

The Forward Head was immaculate, as everyone knew what was going on. Weapons and Operations flooded the place with sailors to make sure that the head was clean enough for doing brain surgery. Try as he might, the captain could only find a little dust in a conduit bundle.

The scary thing was it had now been ten hours since the Shitter Incident and the captain was still in a full-blown rage. it was one thing to be angry, but he was acting as though somebody had shot his dog and then rubbed the carcass in his face. He truly was, at that moment, insane.

Liberty had been secured for the day. At 2000, the XO persuaded the captain to end the inspection for the day, to resume the next day. The XO called the department heads together and told them that the inspection would resume at 0900 the following day, with the uninspected areas up first, then a reinspection of the unsat areas (everything else).

And yes, there were areas that had not been inspected. The inspection of the berthing compartments for Weapons and Operations took five minutes each. Inspection of Officers' Country took ten minutes, including the Wardroom Galley (the captain basically glanced into each stateroom). The reinspection of every other area took about five minutes apiece. The captain made the XO run his finger under the rims of the toilet bowls in the After Head.

Nobody was stupid enough to try a repeat. And just to be sure, the engineering chiefs personally had checked each toilet.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Why the Chaplain was Scum

I mentioned this awhile back. This is no shit:

There was a sailor on one ship who was a pretty nice guy. He was pleasant to everyone, he worked hard and he he was just a joy to stand watch with.

He got out and went to school. He was going to a junior college to get an associate's degree before going on for his batchelor's degree. He was doing that while working full time in a convenience store, of the kind that Tam has referred to as a "Stop `n Rob".

Only this time, a couple of years after he had left the Navy, it was no joke. The robbers thought it best to kill the witness, being the former sailor who was working that late shift.[1]

Word got back to the ship, which was deployed aboard. The Horrible Chaplain was riding the ship. A memorial service was arranged for a Sunday afternoon on the mess deck, the largest open space available. It was very well attended. Sailors who were on watch were arranging swaps to attend.

So the chaplain gets up, goes to the little podium/altar and says: "Well, let's get this over with." He may have thought he said it quietly, but he was overheard by those closest to the altar.

Word spread through the ship faster than anything short of primer-cord. The reaction was not one of amusement.

The XO quietly advised the chaplain that, for his personal safety, he'd best not be found outside of Officers Country after the word was passed to "darken ship".

He followed that advice.

More's the pity.
[1] The robbers' score for the jobs they pulled as probably less than the bail for a shoplifting charge. They were caught. One ratted, the others went to Death Row. At least one lived long enough to be executed.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


This is no shit:

So there were a bunch of officers from one ship that were at a pool (as in "swimming") party. There was a lot of drinking going on. The captain was rather soused. He was running around the edge of the pool, pushing people in.

This captain was one I've written about before. He was a jerk.

It was a hot summer evening. The Sun had set and it was getting dark. People were swimming and trying to stay out of the way of the captain, who had some fixation about throwing people into the pool.

The deck of the pool went up to the house. There were a few young officers sitting on the few steps into the house, enjoying their drinks and trying like hell to stay out of the captain's way.

One of them was an ensign This guy was pretty quiet, but he was a bit, shall we say, unconventional. Intelligence and aptitude were the only things that kept him from being a problem child due to attitudinal issues. One of his problems was that he often did things without mulling them through. You might have heard of the old excuse "it seemed like a good idea at the time." His percentage of ideas that were good ones was very high.

So anyway, there's the captain, running around the pool. He went past the guys on the steps. When his back was somewhat to them, the ensign exploded out of a sitting position, crossed the pool deck and hit the captain in the back with a vicious block, flinging the captain into the pool.

By the time the captain came up and broke the surface of the water, the ensign was seated back on the steps, holding his drink. If you hadn't seen it, you'd not have known that he had moved a centimeter.

Pretty much everybody other than the captain, including the XO, had seen it.

Nobody said nothing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Air-Dropped Torps

This is a very good article about the USN Mk13 torpedo, which was the Navy's primary torpedo for aerial attack. After giving a historical overview, it goes into the Argentinian attempts to use their stored Mk13s during the Falkland War.

Highly recommended.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sky Pilots

"Sky pilots" is an old slang term for members of the military chaplain corps.

Chaplains were usually received direct commissions and were sent to Officer Indoctrination School. They berthed on the upper floor of King Hall in Newport, RI, over the floors assigned to OCS. OIS was pretty funny, as the students there marched in formation. They wore the ranks that they were commissioned into, ranging from ensigns to lieutenant commanders. When they marched, whoever was ordering the formation about (slang term was "driver") was under orders to salute all officers. It usually boggled the minds of the ensigns at Baby SWOS to receive salutes from lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, but that's the way it was.

Chaplains afloat were found on ships the size of cruisers and above, including tenders. They had one or two sailors to assist them, who were yeomen or personnelmen with the sub-designation of "chaplain's assistant". They got their own rate of "religious personnelman" (RP) in the late `70s, then became "religious programs specialist", or some shit like that. Navy chaplains also served the Marine Corps.

Chaplains weren't assigned to frigates and destroyers. Sometimes, a deploying task group would have a chaplain assigned to minister to all of the tin cans. That chaplain was supposed to spend a month or on each ship. On Sundays, if nothing overly intensive was going on, the chaplain would be ferried from ship to ship by the "Holy Helo", often a SH-2 or SH-3 that was on one of those ships. Those helo-ridering chaplains were typically sent out without RPs.

Chaplains were supposed to minister to all comers. Which meant that if there were a few Jews on a ship and Passover was coming up, it was the caplain's job to make it happen. On smaller ships without a chaplain, the senior person of each faith was given the collateral job of "lay religious leader" for that faith.

This is no shit: I was the Jewish lay leader for a ship. I was the only Jew aboard. So I had the word passed that "Services for the Jewish Sabbath will be held in Main Control." The XO went batshit. The CO thought it was funny.

This is also no shit: One of the helo-riding chaplains was such a worthless piece of shit that the first ship to host him got stuck with him, as none of the other ships would take him. Nobody on the first ship was very pleased about that. But they had to suck it up.

That ship was in port in Naples, Italy one fine summer afternoon. The chaplain was given a teletype radio message with his next set of orders. The orders were to the Marine Recruit Training Center in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

He was not pleased by the orders. He was less pleased at lunchtime when he walked into the wardroom; every officer stood up and began singing the Marine Corps Hymn.

The chaplain went to the navy base early the following morning to place a call to Washington to talk to his detailer. The detailer told him that the orders would not be changed, and that if he wanted to resign his commission, he was free to do so. The story was that he'd talk to his superiors in the church hierarchy, and was told that if he did resign his commission, he would be sent to a church that would make Camp Lejeune looks like New York City, in comparison.

He accepted his orders. Nobody that I knew of ever saw him again. We assumed that he was fragged and dumped in the swamp, somewhere.

Which was fine with everyone, for reasons that I'll tell another time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

"I'm So Proud Of My Spousal Unit."

So there is this person I know who is not in the naval service, but in one of those lesser services that aren't specifically named in the Constitution. That individual got an officer's commission and was recently promoted to first lieutenant. Said officer's spousal unit sent out online correspondence bragging about the promotion and "how proud I am of, etc, etc."

I don't know how it works over there, but in the Navy, being promoted to lieutenant, junior grade is damn near automatic. They did cut the time as an O-1 down to 18 months, at least for that service. It was 2 years back in the day and may still be for the Navy. One really had to fuck up to not make JG.

On my first tour, I was reviewing the records of a sailor who had just reported into my division. He had come straight from A school. The papers, from the recruitment station, we signed by an ensign who was in my OCS class.  The date of his signature was two months after he should've been promoted to JG. I guessed that he had to have done something especially henious in order not to be promoted (not to mention being kicked off his ship), but I didn't contact him to find out what it was.

Be proud of your spousal unit, but know that a promotion from O-1 to O-2 is basically the equivalent of a participation trophy. Spousal unit gets a little more money and is no longer a "butter bar," but that's about it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Anchor Pool

An anchor pool was a form of a lottery. The organizer would take two sheets of paper that had grids of sixty boxes printed on them. On one sheet, he'd place a number in each box, from 00 to 59, as randomly as possible. He'd lay a sheet of carbon paper over that, and then fasten a sheet with blank boxes on top. One would often use a lot of staples or tape to ensure that nobody could wee the bottom sheet.

Then he'd sell the boxes, maybe a buck a box or, for high rollers, five or ten bucks a box.

The winner was determined by the time the ship dropped its anchor or passed over the first line or got underway. The winning number was the minute of the time that whatever event took place was entered in the Deck Log. The winner got half of the take. Those who had the numbers on either side got a quarter of the take.

They were called "anchor pools", but it could be any event that merited logging. Including the relief of a particularly hated commanding officer.

Anchor pools, of course, were gambling and were supposedly forbidden. But wise XOs turned a blind eye, so long as nobody was making a profit from them and the promotion of the individual anchor pool wasn't too blatant. Sometimes, official anchor pools were run to raise money for a charity such as Navy Relief. In that event, the charity got a piece of the action.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Nine Years In

Some of the posts (see the links in the menu to the left) seem to have been very popular at ISPs which are associated with training commands and such.

Not much else to say.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pollution, Pollution

First, read this.

The Navy was quite serious about all that: If a ship pumped oil into the inland waters of the U.S., the chief engineer could expect to pay a honking steep fine. They also were sensitive about doing it near other countries.

So anyway, there was a DDG in port in Miami or Port Everglades. There was water in the bilges that had an oily sheen. The ship arranged for a tanker truck and began to pump out the bilges. It was a slow process.

One of the boiler chief petty officers got impatient. So around 0300 or so, he lit off the bilge eductor pump and pumped the bilges over the side. Then he had the other pump secured and the hoses stowed.

The Chief Engineer came down into the spaces just after Quarters. He saw that the bilges were dry. Now, this particular CHENG wasn't a dummy. He knew about what the level of the bilges was and how fast the pump to the truck was working. He knew that there was no way in hell that the bilges should be dry, for the pump had quite a bit of head and it wasn't at all efficient.

So he went looking for answers. He got them. He next went looking for the chief with blood in his eye. He pulled the chief into the Oil Lab, ordered everyone else to leave the space, shut the door and asked the "what the fuck" question. The chief shrugged it off and pointed out that the bilges had to be pumped before lighting fires and that the pump to the truck wasn't going to get it done. The Engineer asked if the chief had noticed that there was a motherfucking Coast Guard station on the other side of the harbor, if the chief was aware that the fines for intentionally discharging oily waste into an inland waterway were between $25,000 and $50,000 and that as the ship's engineer, that the Engineer would be dinged for that whether or not he had given orders for it or even had known about it. (Supposedly nearly every third word was either "fuck" or a variant thereof, so the question took a little longer to ask.)

The boiler technician chief said that he hadn't thought about that.

The Engineer then looked straight at him and said something along the lines of that he (Engineer) wouldn't have to pay it, because if it came to that, he was going to shoot the chief and "they can't make you pay no fines while you're in prison."

The destroyer left port the next morning. The Coast Guard never found out. And the boiler chief petty officer was real careful not to piss off the Engineer.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cloud-Based 1052

It does sort of resemble a Knox-class frigate:

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Russian Navy Needs to Have a Propulsion Examining Board

As an old steam engineer, let me say this: There is no excuse for an oil-fired warship in good condition to send up black smoke, especially in this quantity.

Shit, coal-fired ships often didn't smoke that badly.

The smoke suggests to me that either the plant design or the snipes of the Admiral Kuznetsov suck. Proper naval boilers have economizers; the hot flue gasses from the boiler fires pass over the economizer tubes to pre-heat the feedwater prior to it being fed into the boiler. The fuel savings of economizers are significant, something like 10%, but that level of efficiency can't be achieved if the economizer tubes and their vanes are covered with soot.

Even if the ship was "blowing tubes" (using steam to blow the soot from boiler tubes), for that much soot to be blown off indicates that the plant is running too rich a mixture. There should be no smoke visible from a properly-fired naval boiler.

This article may overstate things, but I am prepared to believe that the Kuznetsov is a piece of shit.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Morning Watch at OCS

This is from something I've been noodling at:

Officer Candidate School maintained a quarterdeck watch at King Hall, its barracks building. There was a Officer of the Day, who was usually one of the company officers.[1] The OOD had a little bedroom just off the quarterdeck. It was the job of the Messenger of the Watch on the forenoon watch to find the OOD around 1115 or so, salute, hold the salute, hand the OOD the muster and sick reports and say: “Good morning, Sir. The Officer of the Deck sends his respects and reports the approach of the hour of twelve. All personnel are present or accounted for. Request permission to strike eight bells on time, Sir.” Then one dropped the salute.

When it was my turn, I was deathly afraid of screwing up my lines, so I rehearsed them, a lot. My turn was on a Saturday morning. The OOD, as it turned out, was badly hung-over. I barely said “Good morning”, when he moaned and said “permission granted.” I was having none of that, for I had worked hard to get the lines down and I was determined to say them.

I did. The OOD sat on the edge of the bed, with his head in his hands. When I finished, he moaned again and said something that sounded like “strike the fucking bells, damn you.”
[1] Each company had a post-sea tour lieutenant as its company officer.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Shlepping the Marines Ashore

In the late 1960s, the Navy and the Marine Corps were facing up to the reality that the techniques for moving troops and heavy cargo ashore for amphibious assaults had not radically changed since World War II. The LCM-8s, designed during the Vietnam War, were faster and heavier than the Higgins Boats, but in concept, they were the same as the WW2 LCMs and LCUs.

The Naval Sea Systems Command began three design projects. The NAVSEA project manager was Jim Schuler. The designs were named after his sons, Jim, Joe and Jeff. The Joe boat would carry about 120 tons of cargo ashore, the Jeff boat would carry sixty tons and the Jim boat would carry thirty tons. The numbers for the two larger boats were derived from the weight of a M-60 tank-- the Joe boat could ferry two ashore, the Jeff boat, one. Only the Jeff boat got to the part of cutting metal. Two prototypes were ordered and tested, the Jeff-A was built by Aerojet General and the Jeff-B, built by Bell Aerospace. Soon into the project, the names were written in all-caps, possibly so everyone would forget that the boats were named after children. The JEFF-A had four steerable jet nozzles. The JEFF-B had two steerable nozzles forward and two ducted fans with rudders (sort of like an airboat on steroids) aft. This is a crappy photo of the two flying in formation. I didn't want to chance taking it out of its frame:

To say that both contractors had problems with their boats would be an understatement. But for the most part, it was understood at the time that the JEFF boats were a significant step and, by the late `70s, they were both running. A hangar and a beaching ramp were built at the Panama City, FL naval station. The JEFF boats were based there and did extensive testing.

The project engineers largely thought that the JEFF-A was the better of the two boats. The Navy disagreed. The JEFF-B's progeny were designated the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion). The award was given to Textron (corporate parent of Bell) in 1984. Over 90 LCACs were built.

I don't know what happened to the JEFF-A. Supposedly, it went to Alaska for tests in Prudhoe Bay after the Navy chose the winning boat. But after that, I heard nothing about it.

The LCAC is beginning to reach the end of its service life. Last I heard, the Navy will just buy more of them.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bye-Bye to Aquaflage!

It is now officially going away.

It was a stupid uniform when it was proposed and remains so.

The Navy calls aquaflage "NWU Type I", a failed uniform that only served to enrich the companies that made it. Aquaflage was a uniform that should have only been worn by mall cops.

The CONUS shore pukes will wear "NWU Type III", a camouflage uniform for people who don't need it. The Navy, it seems, has some form of uniform envy.

NWU Type II is a desert tan-ish camo, for those who are where they need to wear it.

The Navy's Uniform Board seems to be in a quandry as to what should replace aquaflage for those aboard ships. Might I humbly suggest this concept: Wash khakis for chiefs and officers, dungaree trousers and blue chambray shirts for E-1-E-6. To make them different from the old ones, the dungarees should have regular front pockets.

There is no earthly reason for camo uniforms in the naval service at CONUS bases and on ships. Ships are industrial environments. Maybe there's a desire among some of the drain-bamaged denizens of Fort Fumble that "our sailors should dress like warriors". My suggestion would be to wear the same sort of uniforms that naval warriors wore the last time that we, well, actually fought a war at sea:

Or quietly fought a cold struggle for control of the seas:

The Navy should reclaim its heritage as a fucking sea service (like it did when it went back to crackerjacks), ditch their fetish with looking like soldiers and leave that sort of emotional immaturity to the Air Force.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lube Oil

Most of the rotating equipment in engineering, from the reduction gears to small pumps, was lubricated with a light oil known as 2190TEP. It was a fairly light-looking oil.

Oil samples were supposed to be taken daily. Sample jars were kept in three-tiered racks that sort of looked like this two-tiered one:

If my memory serves me, the top rack was for a sample of the oil that was put into the machinery on the last oil change. The next bottle down was the oil sample for that day, which was marked with a china marker (date, time and initials of the sample-puller). The third bottle was for the previous day's sample. The rack was kept in public view within the machinery space, where everyone could see it. One could then see that the samples were being pulled properly and whether or not there was any contamination of the samples.

Keeping the sample racks current was a sign of how squared-away the engineers were. It was amazing how many ships weren't. I know of one case where the engineer of a really new Spruance sent his senior engineers for tours of an Adams-class DDG in order to see how to do things properly.

If you were one of the squadron's lackeys, noticing that the sampling wasn't being done properly was an indicator that maybe the engineering department deserved closer scrutiny. Which was a version of the "500 yard rule" (if the ship didn't look good from 500 yards away, there were problems).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"There Seems to Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships Today"

That quote comes from VADM David Beatty, the Commander of the First Battlecruiser Squadron, at the Battle of Jutland, fought 100 years ago today.

There were 250 ships in both fleets, making the battle probably the largest surface gunfight up to that time.

The Germans wanted to trap the Royal Navy between a picket line of submarines and the German guns, as well as break out of their base at Wilhelmshaven. The British wanted to engage in a decisive battle, a la Trafalgar.

Neither side got what they wanted. There's been much discussion, since then, about the crappiness of British communications (an insistence on using flags with the smoke from the ships and the guns) and the crappiness of British gun shells and powder, compared to that of the Germans. Armor plating was more aimed at stopping flat-shooting projectiles, not the plunging fire of longer ranges (one reason why two of Beatty's battlecruisers blew up).

The British had a German code book and were able to get their ships in place before the Germans established a submarine picket. Despite greater losses, the Royal Navy turned back the Kriegsmarine. The Germans realized that in any subsequent fight, it was likely that the Germans would run out of ships first.

So, barring some local operations and actions against the Russian Navy in the Baltic, the German fleet acted as a fleet-in-being for the rest of the war.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Hard Way to Make a Living

I commend to you a post by the late Neptunus Rex about life as a Landing Signal Officer.

In the early `80s, the Navy had a shortage of people who wanted to fly their airplanes. They asked people in other naval warfare communities to switch over to Naval Air. Their promise was something along the lines of "you can give us a try and, iffn you don't like it, you can go back to your old job with no career penalty".

So there was this young LT or 'JG, just off his first sea tour. He took them up on it.

Four years later, he's spotted on the D&S piers[1] in Norfolk by one of his classmates from Baby SWOS. The conversation went something like this:

"Hey, good to see you! Where're you stationed?"
"I'm Ops on USS Sumdood." (It was a FFG.)
"No kidding! I thought you became a Brown Shoe. What happened?"
"Too many night traps in an A-7."

Of all of the ways to get killed in the Cold War Navy, probably the best way was to fly airplanes on and off carriers.
[1] "Destroyers and Submarines"-- where ships that weren't oilers or carriers were berthed.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Uniform Disasters- Aquaflage is Going Away

After six years in the fleet and some controversy, the blue-and-gray cammies could be headed for Davy Jones' seabag.
I called it seven years ago, before that stupid uniform ever hit the Fleet.

Why the fuck the Navy doesn't stop reinventing the goddamn wheel and go back to what worked for decades (washed khakis for E-7s and above, dungarees and blue shirts for junior enlisted) is beyond my comprehension. Probably because some well-connected people in the uniform-making trade won't make much money from it would be my guess.

The fucking Navy uniform selection process is about as useful as a soup sandwich.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PMS Check

Some years back, I wrote about the Planned Maintenance Subsystem, known as "PMS". I mentioned, briefly, about PMS spot checks, in which the officers were required to audit the conduct of PMS checks.

So there was this one ship where the XO got the idea to put some meat into the spot checks. He had a list of the various work centers. Each week, he would assign the spot checks for some work centers to other division officers: The Communications Officer would have to go do a spot check in the forward fireroom, the Boiler Officer would have to do one on deck, the First Lieutenant would have to do one in Repair 3 and so on. It was a way of making really sure that the checks were being done, since while the Gunnery Officer might have an interest in not making his men look too bad, the Auxiliaries Officer would have no such compulsion.

Now, this is no shit: I was in the Weapons Department. The XO told me that I had to do a spot check in the Operations Department, more specifically, a spot check in ET02, a work center crewed by the Electronics Technicians. Cool, I thought. Since my own division had its share of electronics, I figured that this would be a piece of cake: Watch some guy hook up a test set and check the calibration of something or other. I could sit there, cup of coffee in hand, and watch ET2 Twidget do his thing.

Ah, no.

The check that I drew was to check the TACAN antenna. The TACAN antenna was mounted at the top of the highest mast that the ship had.[1] A "man aloft" chit had to be run on both our ship and the neighboring ones to ensure that nobody turned on any radars or radios.[2] Once that was done, the two ETs doing the check carefully inventoried their gear, we donned climbing harnesses and then up the mast we went. Maybe 110 feet above the upper deck that we'd hit if we fell and 150 feet or so above the water.

Not that it mattered much, for if anyone fell, we weren't landing in the water or on the pier. We'd quite literally hit the deck. The end result from falling a hundred or so feet onto a solid metal deck would have had the same results as falling five times as far, at least to the person doing the falling.

This is probably where I should say that I don't like being on a ladder. At least any higher than the fourth rung. We were one hell of a lot higher.

I don't remember much about the check itself. But the view was pretty spectacular. I wished I had thought to bring my camera. But with my luck, I'd have dropped the damn lens cap on some poor squid.

I did see one person walking by the ship that I had beefed with from time to time. The things that you see when you don't have a wrench handy.

The ETs did their work, I observed and we all came down in good order.
[1] There was one antenna that was higher up, but never you mind about that one.
[2] This PMS check could only be performed pierside.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Imaginative Ensigns

So there was a ship in the Med, a Garcia-class FF. Its SPS-10 surface search radar was out of commission (before the navy began installing LN-66 radars on ships). That meant that the Officer of the Deck had to eyeball the closest point of approach (CPA) for surface contacts. He wasn't terribly comfortable with that and he was probably a bit annoyed that the guys in CIC basically got to do nothing all watch.

So he came up with the idea of using the gunfire radar to ping the range of contacts. A sailor from 2nd Division was installed up in the director. He would train the radar on a visual contact and get the range. With the range input from the radar and the bearing information from the lookouts (or maybe from the radar, as well), CIC could then compute things such as the course and speed of the contact and the CPA for each contact.

That worked well. Until it didn't.

It stopped being a good idea when one of the surface contacts was a Soviet AGI.

Under the 1972 Prevention of Incidents at Sea Treaty between the USA and the USSR, one of the things that was prohibited was "simulating attacks" on the other party's ships. For all the gibbering by the various politicians of how the Russians never honor agreements, the Soviet navy was pretty goddamn scrupulous about honoring that one. Officers of ships deploying overseas were exhorted to have a firm understanding of the provisions of the treaty, because the Russians did.

The Soviets took a dim view of "painting" their ships with fire-control radar; they viewed that as a simulated attack. The Soviet ship's captain (or someone who spoke English) got on the "Bridge-to-Bridge" radio circuit and complained about the alleged treaty violation. Then he reported the incident. A few days later, the frigate's captain had to do a "rug dance" by radio teletype message, about why his command was so cavalier about obeying the provisions of the treaty.

And you know the direction that shit flows.

The OOD was "counseled" to run all of his future "good ideas" by the Senior Watch Officer or the XO for approval before implementing them.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why USN ASUW Warheads Are Tiny

I got into a post on that on my other blog.

I'm posting a link to it here, in case anyone is interested.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Wardroom Smartassery

So there was this ship's captain. He was a first-gen American, both his parents had been brought over from Scotland as children. He was very much into Scottish culture and he loved to hold forth about Scottish history and whatnot during meals. And since, as the Captain, he was also the Mess President, it's not as though anyone could shut him up.

One time, he was telling everyone about a long-running feud between the Campbell and the MacDonald clans. After some years (so the story went), the local priests prevailed upon the clan leaders to get together, break bread and try to settle the feud. As the story went, they had dinner and then the Campbells rose up and slaughtered the MacDonalds.

There was a moment of silence around the wardroom table, until one young officer said: "And to this day, you can't buy Campbell's soup at McDonald's!"

The silence became a stunned one. Until the Captain chuckled and said that he'd never thought it it that way.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sailor in a Can

Knew a HT3 who got out after a four-year hitch. One of the other sailors in his division sad that the guy would re-enlist before the expiration of his eligibility to come back in. When I asked why, he said: "Because in CivLant, they don't let you get away with sleeping in fan rooms."

He was right, the HT3 re-upped five days before the end of the eligibility period.