Saturday, December 14, 2013

Some Damn Football Game is Being Played in Philly

Big effing deal.

As readers of this blog know, I've not been terribly impressed by the output of the service academies. Some of them were good officers, but too many of them were brainwashed Kool-aid drinkers with an inability to think critically or creatively. The officers who excelled at backstabbing and buddy-fucking were more often than not academy products.

Too bad they both can't lose.

UPDATE: Apparently the Army won the coin toss to start the game and then went right into losing the game itself.

The Duffel Blog has it right: The Cadets would have to call in an airstrike to win.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

No Job Was Too Insignificant, But They Sure As Hell Could Be Career-Limiting

Back in the immediate post-Vietnam era, the Navy, among other services, had a problem in both attracting and holding onto good people. The "General Hershey Volunteer Incentive" (otherwise known as "get drafted and go to `Nam") was done. Lots of ships were sent to the breakers (including almost all of the WW2 builds), but the Navy still had a problem.

One was with filling slots for department heads. The officers with four to six years in service in the mid-`70s were heavily made up of men who had joined to avoid the tiresome duty of slogging through jungles with a pack and an M-16 while being shot at. A number of them had gone onto shore duty after their sea tours with an eye of taking night classes to get their masters degrees while also pulling down a paycheck. They weren't interested in going back to sea.

But the Navy still had to fill those department head jobs. So what they did was offer them to hard-charging first tour junior officers (like this guy), at least on some ships. Cruisers and destroyers were still staffed by graduates of Department Head School, but the auxiliaries and smaller amphibs were partially filled by those young JGs. On a sea-duty ship such as an LST or a replenishment ship, the Operations and Weapons officers would be JGs. The Chief Engineer and Deck Officer (on an LST) was more likely to be a limited-duty officer (LDO). (On "neutral duty" ships, such as tenders, most were LDOs).

Come the early-80s and things had begun to change. Pay had been increased, helping to make up part of what had been lost to high inflation. Morale was up. The economy was still kind of sucky, which made staying in a bit more desirable, especially to young lieutenants with families. So the Navy began filling those department head billets on amphibs and replenishment ships with department head school graduates.

A lot of the captains of the replenishment ships were ecstatic at the change. For a fair number of them were aviators who had been sent to those ships to get some experience in commanding a ship (and driving one) before they were selected to be the captain of an aircraft carrier. They were happy to get officers who had had more training and experience. (The XOs were even happier.) There was one AO or AE captain who had ordered that the Bridge radar repeater display be changed from a 360-degree sweep to a 90-degree sweep, because that's what he was used to seeing from his days flying a F-4, but I digress.

Most graduates of the Department Head School didn't want those jobs. They all knew that the Department Head School had been first named the Destroyer School and that the career enhancing jobs were on destroyers and frigates. They also suspected that the selection boards would know that someone sent to be a department head on a LST or an A-something was filling a job that had been handled by a `JG in years past; no matter how good a job somebody did on one of those ships, they'd not be viewed as favorably as someone who did even a tolerable job on a DD/FF.

But there were guys who wanted those jobs, nonetheless. The other folks, the ones who wanted jobs on DDs and FFs, thought that the folks who bid on the jobs on LSTs and A-somethings were idiots and that while it was one thing to be ordered to do a shit job, it was quite another to volunteer for one.

How it all shook out, I don't know. But in a few minutes of Googling, I didn't find any senior officer biographies that bragged about being a post-DH school department head on those ships (other than Chief Engineer).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Harassing the FNGs

I was in the store and saw this in the sporting goods/boating section:

That was one of the common things to do to a FNG (fucking new guy) was to send him for fifty feet of shore line or water line. Another was to tell a guy to go get a bucket of prop wash from the fire room. The boiler techs would tell the FNG that they were fresh out and send him elsewhere. A common one in Charleston was to send a guy looking for the mast crank so that they could lower the ship's uppermost mast before passing under the Cooper River Bridge.

On some ships, the harassment of FNGs got into the kind of hazing that, in time of war, are called "atrocities". A couple skippers and command master chiefs were fired over that.

This is no shit: On one ship, there were some gunner's mates doing some maintenance on the after 5" mount. One of the junior petty officers told a FNG that they were fresh out of relative bearing grease and that the FNG should go to the forward fire room and get a tube of it. The kid did. The boiler techs grabbed the FNG, rubbed grease in his hair and on his face and sent him back to the gun mount.

The XO found out about it and did some ass-chewing of the Weapons Officer and the Chief Engineer. The truth of the old saying that "shit flows downhill" was demonstrated to all concerned.

About six months later, the same petty officer told the same kid to go down to the fire room and get a tube of true bearing grease. The FNG said: "There ain't no such thing as true bearing grease." The petty officer said: "Yes, there is, it comes in a tube like this" and held up a tube of DC-4. The FNG said: "Oh, OK."

Off he went to the fire room. The boiler techs told him to get the fuck out. They told their chief, who passed the word up to the Chief Engineer. Who then informed the Weapons Officer.

About three weeks later, the Weapons Department had to send four sailors mess cranking. A certain junior petty officer was one of them. He was made to understand that the alternative was to be taken to Captain's Mast, where he would be busted down to seaman, have half of his pay taken away for two months, be restricted to the ship for 45 days, get 45 days of extra duty and be sent cranking on top of all that.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fighter Pilots

Some self-inflicted jabs by the folks who wear re-dyed Army uniforms:

(Posted in lieu of original content.)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Movie Night

Back before the installation of closed-circuit TV systems (and for many years afterwards), movies were shown on Navy ships. There was a service that sent them out to the ships, which then traded them around the Fleet. The prints were in 16mm format, they were almost all second-run movies. So if you had been deployed for a few months, they were new to your crew.

Movies were shown beginning at 2000 in three places: The Mess Deck, the Wardroom and the Goat Locker. For officers, unless you were the Captain, the XO or one of the no-loads (Supply, airdales on LAMPS ships), you didn't watch movies underway. If you were a pre-qual SWO, attending a movie was a sign to the XO that you didn't have enough to do, something that the XO would be sure to remedy for you in short order. If you had the time, you should have been working on your PQS, divisional paperwork, standing watches or getting some sleep.

In reality, every line officer below the XO, including Department Heads, skipped movies underway. If you had that much free time, you got caught up on sleep, which was a precious commodity underway, or you dashed off a letter or recording to your family back home. In port, if you didn't have duty, you went ashore rather than stay aboard the bloody ship and watch a movie. Unless, of course, you were in some Third World shithole of a port.

The movies themselves generally came on three reels, so there was always a break while the reels were changed out. I think it was SOP not to rewind them after viewing, so that the next user could see that the film was intact. But I'm a little hazy on that, as I didn't see too many movies. Most of them seemed to have the scratches that one would expect from a second-run grindhouse.

If porn was available, that would be shown after Taps. Wise captains conditioned the showing of porn under a "no complaints" policy- if one person objected, it was banned throughout the ship. (Which meant that it might still be shown in the Goat Locker.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Night Witches

One of the last of the Red Air Force's "Night Witches", Nadezhda Popova, died earlier this month. She was 91. She was one of the first women to serve in the Soviet Air Force, she flew over 800 missions

"Night Witches" was the German term for the. The Russian pilots adopted it as a badge of honor. They flew Po-2 biplanes over German lines at night, engaging in harassment and interdiction missions to disrupt the sleep of the German soldiers. The Po-2 flew so slowly that enemy fighters trying to pace them would stall and crash (the Po-2s flew rather low). They also flew supply missions to drop supplies to Soviet troops who were cut off at Malaya Zemlya and Stalingrad.

The debate over whether women are capable of serving in combat should have been settled in 1945.

Friday, June 14, 2013



OK, it made sense back in the 1850s when teletype machines were first put into use. And it kind of made sense through the Morse code and HF TTY broadcast days, for at least you knew that the way it read when you sent it was the way that it would be read.

But yeah, it's about time that the all-caps format died.

Speaking of dying an unlamented death, it appears that Aquaflage may also be doomed. Can't happen soon enough. It was a stupid uniform when it was adopted and it's only gotten worse.

Monday, May 13, 2013

All True. Mostly.

Over at the Lexicans, there is a post about how to simulate being in the Navy. Some of it is playful exaggeration, but a lot isn't.

I had a similar list awhile back.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Uniform Stupid Shit; Headgear Dept.

This is the cover that male junior officers wear. Similar ones are worn by senior officers and chief petty officers:

It is reasonably weatherproof. The gold strap is a chinstrap. In high winds, the wearer would loosen up the strap and slide it under his chin, in order to not lose his cover.

This is the cover that female junior officers wear. All women in the Navy wear similar ones:

The chinstrap doesn't do jack shit. It is as useless as a promise from a politician. Worse was that the cover is not anywhere near close to being weatherproof. If you got it good and wet, the damned sides would droop and there was fuck-all that could be done about it. Oh, you could try to starch it up or something, but it never looked right. So if you thought that the weather was going to be good and you left your plastic rain-cover at home, well, that was a hundred-buck mistake.

The good news is that those stupid covers for women may be going away.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sub Sunk + 50

USS Thresher (SSN-593) sank fifty years ago.

To say that there were significant changes to the construction, maintenance and operation of nuclear-powered submarines in the years following the accident would be like calling a plasma torch "warm".

All well before my time and it wasn't my community. But it was one of the reasons why the supply priorities were what they were.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

USS Akron, +80 Years

The USS Akron crashed in a storm eighty years ago.

A lot of people don't know that when the Navy built three dirigibles, that they were commissioned as active naval ships (a fourth was taken from the Germans as war reparations). Only one of them survived to be scrapped, the other three were all lost in storms.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dreaming On

This is no shit: I had this dream several nights ago:

Time: Far into the future.

Place: Aboard an unnamed DDG, far out at sea.

One of my nephews/nieces is an officer on the ship. The ship was doing a Tiger Cruise on the way back from her deployment. I was invited to go and I did. My relative had proudly informed the rest of the wardroom, before I got there, that I had been an engineer back in the steam Navy.

So one day, the XO pulls me aside and says: "Look, the Captain wants to hold an all-officers meeting tomorrow morning. You're OOD qualified, right? We're independent steaming, do you mind taking the watch for an hour or so?"

I allowed that while yes, I had been OOD qualified, I knew nothing of the ship. But she assured me that she'd personally make sure that the enlisted Bridge and CIC watchstanders for my watch would be the best-of-the-best. And I should feel free to go spend some time on the Bridge to get familiar with things.

Of course, the Bridge was, to my old eyes, a confusing array of computerized gear. Hell, the helmsman sat at a console, which was heresy back in my day.

On the appointed morning, I went up there, only to find out that I was going to have both the Deck and the Conn. No big deal, independent steaming, and no planned course changes for three days. I took the watch and mostly tried to amuse myself by having the Quartermaster of the Watch show me how all of the computerized shit really worked.

Two hours into the watch, the word came up: "Man overboard, port side!"

I yelled out: "Left full rudder, all ahead Flank II, set maneuvering combination! Combat, Bridge, mark position! Boats, pass the word: 'Man overboard, man the boats. All hands not involved to quarters, submit muster reports to the XO on the Bridge.'" The ship by then had turned about fifty degrees off its original course, I ordered: "Shift your rudder!" Then, "Boats, pass the word: 'Commanding Officer, your presence is requested on the Bridge.'"

All over the ship, there was the sounds of doors slamming and people moving around. Combat was feeding up range and direction to the spot they marked. As the ship came around, I ordered the helmsman to steady up on the reciprocal bearing and to reduce speed to 2/3rds. I was out on starboard bridge-wing, I could see the smoke from the float thrown overboard by the After Lookout and I tried to guess how this gas-turbine pig would handle when she came closer.

That's when I heard some applause from inside the Bridge. The Captain, XO and some of the other officers were there, smiling. The XO passed the word to secure from man overboard stations.

The Captain said: "Nice job. 50 years later, you still got it."

The first word through my mind was: "Asshole".
Given that it has been so long since I last was on a Navy ship, I have to wonder why that dream came up.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Seventy Years Ago Today

The Four Chaplains gave their life jackets away so that other men aboard the SS Dorchester would stand a chance of surviving the sinking of the ship from a torpedo that had been fired from a German U-Boat.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Oh, the Horrors of Being in the Air Force!

Posters! Signs with "unprofessional language"! Displays of "historical nose art"! R-rated movies!

What a bunch of drone-driving pussies.

This is no shit: I knew of a ship that was moored abreast to and outboard of another nation's warship in a foreign port. The ships were part of a small NATO task group, they were operating together for a few months.

The inboard nation's ship was holding a reception for local dignitaries on its forecastle. The captain of the USN ship ordered his Command Duty Officer to keep sailors from the forecastle of the USN ship during the duration of the event.

The CDO thought on how to do that without posting guards. His solution was to take some blank copy paper and tape four sheets together to make one large sign. On the sign, with a heavy black marker, he printed these words:
Stay the Fuck Off the Forecastle!
and he signed the sign as CDO. He posted one such sign on each door onto the forecastle and put smaller signs on the hatches going up to the forecastle.

Nobody went on the forecastle. Even the armed security watch, which was supposed to check all deck areas, requested his permission to go onto the forecastle.

But clearly, that young officer would be in a world of shit in today's Air Force. If you can even use the word "shit" in the Air Force.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Career-Limiting Move

Running your ship aground.
USS Guardian (MCM 5) ran aground on Tubbataha Reef at 2:25 a.m. local time, Jan. 17, while transiting the Sulu Sea. The Avenger-Class ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay, Olongapo City and was en route to her next port of call when the grounding occurred.
Never a good move. If the chart was accurate, then good excuses for running aground are rarer than honest congressmen. That'll kill the career of the CO and it almost always has. The XO and the OOD also should be planning on transitioning to civilian life sooner rather than later.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kvetching About Uniforms

Look, I understand the "we are at war" crap. But seriously, folks, field (cammie) uniforms as travel attire within CONUS?

When our soldiers fought in the Second World War, they looked like this in the field:

When they were traveling in CONUS, they looked like this:

Now, they look like this:

The wearing of cammies for travel seems to be an Army and Air Force affectation. The Navy apparently does not put up with that shit. Neither do the Marines, which, while as much as it pains me to admit it, are the most squared-away when it comes to uniforms.

The soldiers and airmen traveling in cammies look like shit. Enough said.