Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"No Jews Allowed"

This story took place in the early 1970s. A Knox-Class FF, home ported in Norfolk, was on duty in the Persian Gulf. A port visit was arranged in Saudi Arabia. This was a big deal at the time.

The frigate pulled into port and made up to the pier. After the brow ("gangplank" to you landsmen) was rigged, three officers from the Royal Saudi Navy came aboard, accompanied by the U.S. Embassy's naval attache. They met with the ship's officers and the command master chief to give a port visit briefing. Those briefings were usually pretty much standard fare, focusing mainly on the "dos and don'ts" for a port visit.

During the briefing, a conversation along these lines took place:

Saudi Officer: "Captain, do you have any Jews in your crew?"

CO: "Yes, a few. Why do you ask?"

Saudi Officer: "You will have to restrict them to your ship."

CO: "Why?"

Saudi Officer: "Jews are not allowed to set foot in the Kingdom."

CO: "I see. XO, make preparations to get underway. Engineer, begin preps to light off the second boiler, let the XO know when you expect it to be ready."

XO, Cheng: "Aye, aye, sir."

Saudi Officers, Naval Attache: "Wait, wait, what are you doing, why?"

CO: "I'm not going to restrict anybody to the ship because of their faith. Everyone goes ashore or nobody goes ashore. And if nobody can go ashore, then there is no reason for my ship to be here. So we're getting underway as soon as we can."

The Saudi officers conferred and then ran off the ship to make some phone calls. Within an hour, the Saudis dropped their demand that Jews be restricted to the ship. The port visit went ahead. Not that a port visit in a country with no liquor, bars or discos was any great treat to the crew. As one sailor was said to have put it: "If all I fucking wanted to fucking see was fucking sand and fucking camels, I could have fucking gone to the fucking San Diego Zoo."


Frank Van Haste said...

"BZ, Skipper!"


Jimh. said...


Anonymous said...

I met an American Indian fellow who served in the first Gulf War. He told me that when the plane he was on landed in Sado Arabia, the Fascists wouldn't let him get off the plane because his name sounded Jewish. Unfortunately, we've become so wussified that there was no protest by the officers in charge.

Anonymous said...

P.S. - My home from about September of '70 to about December of '73. Came aboard in Norfolk, and then went with her to Charleston.

PhysioProf said...

Great story! That's a ballsy CO, who must have been great to serve under.

What's "BZ" mean?

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

BZ = Bravo Zulu, NATO signal code for "Well Done".