Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fleet Organization

First, there are the numbered fleets. 2nd Fleet is the Atlantic, 6th is the Med, 5th is the Persian Gulf area, 3rd is the eastern Pacific and 7th is the western Pacific.

Then there were task forces, which reported to the fleet commander. TF 60 was the carrier force and their escorts. TF 61 was the amphib ships, TF 62 was the Marines on those ships, TF 63 was the logistics fleet. I've forgotten what TF the subs were (other than "sonar contact = enemy").

There were normally two carriers in the Med. Each carrier made up a task group, 60.1 and 60.2. The embarked destroyer commodore was head of the task unit for the their task group, making them 60.1.1, etc. Ships that were split off for independent assignments (which happened to the ASW 1052s frequently) were designated as task elements.

The commander of any of those forces was designated with a C, so the commander of TG 60.1 was known as CTG 60.1. That was a valid naval message address. So if the staff of Cruiser and Destroyer Group 2 was in the Med as the boss of TG 60.1 and you needed to send a message to the admiral, you addressed it to either COMCRUDESGRU TWO or CTG 60.1, depending on whether or not the subject matter was administrative or operational.

This is background for an upcoming post.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Uniform Disasters

I still think that the new Navy working uniform looks stupid.

It makes them look like militia-wannabees.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good Eats

A long time ago, I was in Barcelona, Spain. This was before they had the Olympics and cleaned the place up. We were supposed to go ashore on the buddy-system, but I had a job with some weird-ass hours, so I just went ashore by myself, whenever the frak I wanted, and nobody said anything to me.

There was a wide plaza up from the waterfront that was called "the Ramblas", or something like that. It was sort of like being on a street with a median that was 100 meters wide; there were outdoor cafes along it. The entertainment was limited to people-watching, which on at least one occasion, included watching some dude slap his girlfriend around until the Guardia Civil showed up and hauled him off.

The Guardia wore some goofy-looking black lacquered hats that looked like pillboxes with a flat piece behind them. Some of the Guardia carried submachine guns. The Police Militare also patrolled the streets and they had SMGs of some flavor. Word was that only a fool messed with any of the Spanish cops.

A lot of the buildings had dark-grey stone facades. Whether the facades were that color because of decades of smoke or that was the natural color, I never knew. When I looked up at the buildings, especially on the side streets, I could see pockmarks from bullet impacts, presumably from street-fighting during the Spanish Civil War.

So anyway, in my meanderings, I found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that, among other things, served half of a chicken, a big plate of steaming hot French fries and a beer for 250 pesetas which, if memory serves me correctly, was about three bucks American.

Maybe my taste buds had been hammered by the long- frozen French fries and blasted chicken that was standard fare in the Navy, but that fresh chicken and fries which that restaurant served up was unbelievably good. I made at least four trips to that little place and each meal was as good as the one before. I never saw anyone from any of the Navy ships in port then at that place and I kept my mouth shut, believe me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vernon Baker, R.I.P

Vernon Baker, Medal of Honor recipient, has died. He was 90.

Almost 20 years ago, the Army began investigating why no African-Americans had been awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II. Based on the work of historians and then an Army screening board, they found ten men who should have been considered for the award. Seven men were deemed to have acted with bravery above and beyond the call of duty. Four had been killed in combat, two had died after the war. Only Mr. Baker was left alive by the time his bravery was recognized for what it was.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Earlier, I discussed the Planned Maintenance Subsystem, which is how the crew of any ship knew what maintenance work needed to be done. Quite often, though, maintenance or repair work needed to be accomplished which was beyond the capabilities of the ship's force. That work had to be accomplished by an outside entity.

The process was started by submitting a request on a pale green machine-readable form, OPNAV Form 4790/2K, which was known throughout the Fleet as a "2-Kilo".

2-Kilos had to be signed by the entire chain of command. After that, what happened depended on where the ship was and what was going on. If your ship was going into a tender availability, the 2-Kilos went to the tender's repair officer for evaluation. If the repair officer passed on doing the work, then the 2-Kilo would be sent to the home port supervisor of shipbuilding and repair (Supships) for submission for the next overhaul or selected restricted availability (SRA). What was accomplished in an overhaul or SRA was determined by Navsea and the type commander (SurfLant or SurfPac), and the main criteria was how much it would cost and how much money the type commander had for repairs.

Back in the day, ships of the Atlantic Fleet had to be able to rig "friendship lights". Imagine a 25' long string of 3-wire outdoor extension cord, with a 60-watt work light every foot or so. They looked like giant Christmas tree lights. Ships needed enough strings to completely circle the main weather deck, to go down the length of the gangway and to run from the fantail, up to the top of the mast and then back down to the bow. That was a shitload of lights.

It looked something like this:

Night time:


They were called friendship lights because lighting up the ship like that implied no hostile intent (and it told everyone who looked out at the harbor that a foreign warship was there). Everyone in the Atlantic Fleet called them "Med lights", because they were normally only used when deployed. More to the point of things, they were not repair parts, they were consumable items.

This is no shit:

There was a steam-powered cruiser in Mayport that was getting ready to deploy. The cruiser had a new chief engineer. The CHENG asked the Electrical Officer if the Med lights were ready to go. The Electrical Officer replied in the affirmative. The CHENG said fine, the ship was going to be in port for three weeks, so he wanted to see them all strung up in place and tested. The Electrical Officer protested that would be a lot of work for his division. The CHENG was unswayed and changed his phraseology from "I would like to see the Med lights strung up" to "you goddamn will string up the fucking Med lights". That was not a normal thing to do, but this particular CHENG was kind of an unreasonable bastard who had been badly burned on a previous tour by a division officer who had fed him a load of shit. He was a real piece of work in a job which tended to encourage becoming one.

Well, it seemed there was a bit of a problem. That ship needed about 3,000 feet of Med lights to fully rig the ship. They had 100 feet. The CHENG had the E Division supply petty officer determine the cost of 2,900 feet of Med lights. At that point, the CHENG turned white, for the cost would have wiped out the consumable budget for Engineering for the rest of the fiscal year and then some.

The CHENG went straight to the CO and told him that the ship essentially had no Med lights. The CO was a wise one who knew that there were times for going ballistic and times when it would serve no purpose. He thanked the CHENG for telling him and told him to "carry on." The CO then called his good friend, the CO of the destroyer tender down the pier.

Nobody would talk about what deal was struck (if any), but the CHENG was told to bring a 2-Kilo to the CO, filled out with the name of the ship, the work center, initialed by the Electrical Officer and the CHENG and otherwise left blank. The CO took the 2-Kilo, signed it, and then instructed the CHENG to personally hand-carry it to the CO of the tender.

Which the CHENG did. The tender's CO took it, thanked the CHENG and told him that he could send a working party over in two hours to pick up the lights he needed. The CHENG sent the available electrician's mates and IC men to get the Med lights, all three thousand feet of them. The ship had its Med lights for the cruise (though they had to buy a shitload of bulbs).

A copy of the 2-Kilo later came back for the ship's work order file. The text of it read: "Fabricate and provide 3,000 feet of waterline security lighting, ship's force to install."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident


When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary