Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Go Surface

An old sheet of gripes.  The author is not known.

Typing was obviously not one of that officer's strong suits. And yes, kiddies, back in the day, there were typewriters on ships-- no computers. The only word processors were in the Ship's Office and only the yeomen got to touch those machines. If you were using a typewriter and you made a "typo", you could correct if with white-out or correct-o-type, you could retype it or, as the writer of that sheet did, you just lived with the typos.

Friday, May 25, 2012


USS Miami (SSN-755) had a bad fire while she was in dry dock at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. The fire, which was reportedly in the boat's forward compartments, took several hours to extinguish.

The question now is whether the boat is beyond economical repair. Even if the damage is repairable, it may have been severe enough that the boat will be decommissioned and left in the yard until Congress specifically allocates funds for repairing the boat. The reason for that is when one is talking about a very large sum of money to fix a casualty, taking it out of existing funding will have a hard impact on the funding of repairs and upgrades to the rest of the force.

There is precedent for that. When the USS Belknap burned down to the damage control deck in 1975, she was moored in the Philadelphia Navy Yard until funds were allocated to repair her.

Belknap was, at the time of her fire, a newer ship than the Miami. However, the Fleet is a lot smaller than it was 37 years ago and the Navy isn't going to part with a valuable asset like a nuclear sub unless it absolutely has to.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sex, Religion & Politics

Those were the three topics that were off limits for conversation in the wardroom of a warship. The thinking, of course, was that those topics are the ones most guaranteed to piss people off and, since everyone had to work together, comity and harmony were valued.

If you were determined enough to want to talk about your church or your political candidate, you could expect that in very short order, you would get a talking-to by the XO.

I find it's a pretty good rule to live by in conducting my affairs in the real world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Target Shooting at Sea

One of the things that was occasionally done was to inflate something very large, like a weather balloon, and drop it over the side. It could then be used as a target at longer ranges.

So one day, a ship I was riding on did that. I was riding it to conduct and observe some tests.[1] Since the ship was independently transiting, I didn't have much to do, so I went topside to watch the shooting.

One of the weapons that the sailors were shooting at the balloon was a M-79 "Bloopergun".

They were firing blue rounds.[2] The balloon was off the starboard side at maybe 300 yards or so and the ship was steaming around the balloon in sort of a lazy circle. Most of the sailors were missing to the left of the balloon.

I said something to one of my fellow shipriders along the lines of: "That thing is a big as a barn and they can't hit it."

The gunner's mate senior chief must have overheard me, for he spun around, fixed me with his patented Goat Locker Stare and said: "Maybe you'd like to give it a try, Ma'am."

"Thank you, Senior Chief, I'd like that." So I went over there and he gave me a fifteen second checkout on the controls of the M-79. I checked to make sure that the windage adjustment was centered, then I shouldered the weapon, aimed and fired.

The dummy warhead splashed right in front of the balloon. The senior chief's jaw dropped and he said something along the lines of: "Goddammit, Lieutenant, how'd you do that?"

"Easy," I said, as I handed the Bloopergun back to him. "The balloon isn't moving, the ship is. So you gotta lag the target, not lead it."

Don't ask me about recoil, I don't remember it kicking that much. What I should have done, though, was to ask for the cartridge case as a souvenir, and I didn't do that.
[1] Never you mind what kind of tests. If I were to tell you, I really would have to kill you.
[2] The projectiles were inert.