Monday, September 3, 2012

Helpful Guidance From the Afloat Staff

This is no shit*:

There was a task group of warships heading into Yokosuka, Japan. One of the double-ended cruisers had had a boiler casualty and was sort of limping in on one screw. The demineralizer in one of the plants had failed and, instead of removing minerals from the condensate coming from the main engine, had dumped minerals into the feed water system. That salts up a boiler faster than you can think of it.

Besides replacing the resin guts in the demineralizer, the affected plant has to be washed out with copious amounts of fresh water, then rinsed with a citric-acid based wash, and then rinsed again. It was that cruiser's dumb luck that she was steaming all four boilers at the time, which meant that both boilers in the affected plant had to be opened up and cleaned.

After the engineers had stopped steaming the salted-up plant, the Chief Engineer recommended to the Captain that he place the ship on water hours. "Water hours" meant that unless you were a cook or you were covered in grease and oil, you didn't get to take a shower. And you might as well wear the same uniform for awhile, as the ship's laundry was also secured. It didn't take very long until the inside of the ship smelled like a locker room.

The plan that the Engineer recommended to the Captain was to do all of the flushing of the salted boilers at sea, so that they wouldn't have to worry about disposing of the water used to flush the boilers.** Once in port, where a Culligan truck was available, they would then close out the boilers and hydrostatically test them.***

All of this, of course, was the subject of a CASREP and follow-on updates. So nobody could say that anyone in the staffs wasn't informed.

So now it's a little after 2300, two days before the task group is to arrive. One of the bright young lads on the embarked staff on the aircraft carrier got on the secure UHF circuit****, called over to the cruiser and asked to speak to the Engineer. CIC called down to Engineering. The EOOW called the Engineer in his stateroom and told him that he was wanted on the Red Phone.

The Engineer was not happy. It seemed as though he was going to be able to get a good six hours' of uninterrupted rack time, which was almost unheard-of. So he pulled on his filthy uniform and went up to Combat. The CICWO pointed to the correct handset. The Engineer picked it up. The conversation went about like this:

"Staff, Cruiser, Chief Engineer speaking. Over."

"Staff here. Due to the sensitivity surrounding discharges from warships, we want to make sure that you complete your boiler flushing well before we enter Japanese waters. Over"

In the cruiser's CIC, sailors swore that they could see smoke wisping from the Engineer's ears. He keyed the handset and responded. "Cruiser, Engineer here. We had no idea that there would be any political ramifications from intentionally dumping pollutants into Japanese waters. It never occurred to us that they might not approve of it. We will take that into account and make sure that we finish well before then. Anything further? Over."

"Staff, roger, thank you. Out."

Supposedly, the bright one on the staff was pleased with himself, until it was gently pointed out to him that the Engineer's response was heavily laced with sarcasm. By breakfast the following morning, every engineering officer throughout the task group was laughing about it.

The watch in the cruiser's CIC held their laughs until the Chief Engineer had left Combat, slamming the door behind him.
* Some details have been changed to protect the guilty, at least one of whom is still on active duty
** Why there was such concern over dumping water that had salt and/or diluted citric acid was more a matter of politics than science.
*** Any time you opened up a boiler, you had to hydro it. High-pressure steam leaks are bad news.
**** Also known as the "Red Phone", from the color of the remote stations in CIC and the Bridge.


Glenn Cassel said...

I did water hours on Independence and Ranger. Usually the Evaporators were the issue. Ranger had the other luxury of jet fuel in the fresh water.
When I was first aboard Independence, we were on water hours at sea during workups. 100 man berthing on the 03 level between the water brakes for the bow cats.
Ripe. V-1 Division Berthing. Blue Shirts, Yellow Shirts, Crash and Salvage. Ripe. We had a deep sink with salt water. We did 'sponge' bathing in it.

Comrade Misfit said...

It could get ripe on any of those steam ships. Between the age of the plants and growth in size of the crews, almost all of them were fresh-water poor. Supposedly most of the 1052 class could manage to top off their potable water tanks each night, but that sure wasn't the case for the DDGs and CGs.

Now the tenders, they were designed to be able to supply water to the ships moored alongside. I've been told that the tenders, when they were at sea, were fresh-water rich and for them, the tough times were when they had to anchor with ships moored alongside to them, But I don't know for sure.