Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wisdom Teeth

Bubblehead has a post on wisdom teeth.

I was on a ship when I went into the naval base dental clinic for my yearly dental exam. The Navy, in its infinite wisdom, only had people come in annually. If you have ever gone a year without having your teeth cleaned, I don't recommend that you do. Back in the days before the water-jet descalers, plaque build-up had to be removed by scraping. A lot of of plaque builds up in a year and the process of removing it was not a lot of fun.

So anyway, there I was, lying flat on my back in the dental chair, when the dentist (a captain) told me (a lieutenant), that I needed to have my two wisdom teeth removed. Having long gotten past the point where staff-puke rank impressed me, I asked why that was so. He said: "Some day they'll bother you." I shot back with: "Some day my back will bother me, too, you want to remove that, sir?"

He ordered me to make an appointment to "come back in two weeks and have those wisdom teeth out." So I did, though, for some reason, it slipped my mind that my ship was deploying in ten days. Sure enough, about a month into the cruise, the XO got a nasty letter from the dental clinic that I had missed an appointment. And sure enough, by the time the ship had returned to home port, the matter had been forgotten.

I got out of the Navy with my wisdom teeth intact.

Six years later, I had to have them pulled for about $150. So being a stubborn jackass cost me real cash money.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The 3M System and PMS

No, this had nothing to do with the scotch tape people. In the Navy, the 3M system was the "Maintenance and Material Management System". The 3 M system was made of various subsystems, which included supply management, maintenance management and maintenance tasks.

PMS was the Planned Maintenance Subsystem. The maintenance tasks were called "PMS checks". The scheduling is probably all done on computers now, but it was done by hand back in my day.

Each division on a ship was broken down into work centers, usually on the basis of spaces. Boiler Division on a frigate would have one work center, two on a destroyer or cruiser. A-gang may have two or three. AS Division could have two or as many as six work centers. R Division had the most, as each repair locker was a work center and each divisional DCPO was a separate work center. Each work center had a "leading petty officer" in charge, though the LPO could be a chief in a larger work center.

PMS checks were maintenance procedures for specific pieces of equipment ranging from the very small to the very large. PMS checks were done by reference to the PMS card for the check. Each card listed the number of sailors required to do the check, specific supervision, if required, the tools required, the consumables required and the estimated time to perform the check. The cards were like recipe cards; they set forth each step of the check.

PMS checks were designated in each work center by a letter and number. The letter designated how often the check was to be performed and the number was a series number within each work center. The letters were D (daily), W, M, Q, A, and R (other requirement). The first monthly check in work center WS01 was M-1, then M-2, M-3, and so on.

In each department office was the quarterly PMS scheduling board for the work centers, by week. This listed every PMS check for the quarter that had a less-than-weekly periodicity. This PMS schedule was kept on paper, in pencil. The schedule was signed by the division officer and approved by the department head. Each work center had a laminated weekly schedule that showed each day and what checks were scheduled. The weekly and daily checks were often printed on the schedule before lamination. The LPO would write in the monthly, etc. with a grease pencil. This schedule was signed by the LPO and approved by the division officer.

The LPO assigned sailors to do the PMS checks. If a PMS check was done on the day it was scheduled for, it was crossed out on the schedule. If not, it was circled and rescheduled, with an arrow connecting the original date and the rescheduled one. This was also done on the quarterly PMS schedule. At the end of each quarter, the quarterly PMS schedules were reviewed by the XO and the Captain. Any division that was found to be less than diligent about completing its PMS checks would receive extra scrutiny. So a wise division officer kept a sharp eye on the completion rate and a good department head did likewise.

PMS performance was also spot-checked. Each week, the division officers had to do spot-checks on PMS checks, though it was left to their discretion whether to watch a check being performed or to go back later and see if the check was done. The sailors doing the check had to show that they had the required tools and supplies. The procedures for the checks were verified and, if for some reason, a check should be performed differently than the way specified, a report was supposed to be submitted up the chair of command to the Naval Sea Systems Command for review of the procedure.

The results of the spot-check had to be submitted. Some commands were better than others in enforcing the spot checks. The department heads were supposed to do one spot check per division per week. The CO and the XO were supposed to do a weekly spot check as well.

PMS was easy to gun-deck (ie, fake) if the spot-checks were not done. Smart officers knew the value of PMS checks and made sure they were performed.