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Ropeyarn Sunday “Sea Stories” and Open Trackbacks

May 7th, 2008 by xformed

And he said, when the lines were singled: “You did everything I’d do, but 30 seconds later.”

It is a real statement made to me, after morring at Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, VA for an offload of ordnance.

about 45 minutes earlier, Captain Maixner asked “Have you ever taken one (SPRUANCE Class DD) to the pier without tugs?”

What brought this stroy back from the memory banks is the current events…of how one can sit and listen to someone for 20+ years, then decide what is being said is depicable…

More later…work calls…but…it is a good story about life aboard a Navy vessel…

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

April 9th, 2008 by xformed

Last week, Spoiler download I began discussing the Ship’s Servicemen and my experiences.

At the present, work is busy (and good), so I have to catch up with the story of CDR Lightley and the laundry aboard USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2). I promise it will be of great entertainment value to those who have “been there” when things went haywire (or, in this case, whites came back as grays…). Return late tonight, or tomorrow ro find out who did what to who…

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

March 26th, 2008 by xformed

Post your trackbacks!

Last Wednesday,

Jesus Christ Superstar hd

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist psp

buy Cannibal Holocaust

Fritz the Cat movie download

Very Young Girls dvd The Garbage Pail Kids Movie video I “scribbled” some recollections, in a narrative format, or how life at sea is not always exciting, and sometimes, it’s mind-numbing, and tough to stay awake, let alone alert. The words were from a first person experience, as I stood Bridge and Combat Information Center watches most of my sea going career, with a 1/2 of a tour (the other half was spent in drydock for an overhaul), as an Engineering Officer of the Watch. Below decks, there is a world seldom considered in the detail that is intrinsic in keeping a vessel operational, in port, as well as at sea.

I didn’t ask to be an engineer, well, there was the third blank on the “preference card” that had to be filled in, as my chosen career field gave me but three choices: Combat Systems, Operations and…yep, Engineering. I put “it” last, having served my prior 5 years mostly in Combat Systems, with a beginning tour of two years in two of the Operations Department divisions. I wanted to be where things left the ship with purpose, at high speed, to damage and destroy those formed against us on land and sea. Someone in the detailers shop (I know understand they are “career managers,” but we had other, more colorful names for those who wandered the halls of the Navy Annex (then in Arlington, VA) treating us like so many cards in a playing deck, sending us to do the bidding of “The Navy.”

So, I went to a tour as Engineering Officer (which I have blogged about before) and found it engaging, rewarding, tough mentally to keep all things to all standards demanded by the many upper levels of the chain of command, but, when all was said and done, fun. Not without it’s degree of boredom, mind you, but only standing the EOOW watch, spared me from having to live what my men did: Those who kept the “plant” operational and safe, day and night, alongside the pier, at anchor, or while slicing through the tall waves of an angry sea. A new appreciation grew within me for the “snipes,” who made it happen.

Engineering watches varied from sitting in a space for several hours, which might also have been air conditioned for the electronics of the gyros (and later inertial navigation system), or hot, and humid areas, such as the “Main Spaces.” If you had a watch in a space, there were many tasks, firstly, to keep the systems within the space in the operational condition as required by the Ship’s current operations. Many times, that was a handful, especially during drills, be they for the engineering readiness, or for the “upper deck” guys. Other times, the turbines and compressors and pumps and generators would be doing the same thing all watch. Then, there was routine checks to be made. Just about every space had a clipboard with log sheets of various design that the watchstanders would record readings of various equipments. More often than not, it was on an hourly basis, unless you suspected something wasn’t running well, but it wasn’t out of spec yet. The men knew these things, when the unit wasn’t sounding “normal” to them. The logs would be reviewed by supervisors, who would circle reading outside of the accepted ranges in red. Those items would then attract the scrutiny required (or should) to determine if maybe services, like cooling water, or air, or fuel might be misaligned, or if there was a failure at hand. The Engineering Officer of the Watch was the interface, to be consulted, and then to determine if the Engineer Officer was to be called, or, in a more immediate case, the Officer of the Deck.

When there weren’t reading to be taken on a long watch, there was usually plenty of preventive maintenance to be taken care of on off line equipment. And, when those tasks ran short, professional manuals/correspondence courses could be read. That’s not to say a paperback or two of a few hundred haven’t been read under those circumstances, but being ready all the time sometimes left that opportunity.

Besides in the watches who spent their 4 hours in a single space, there was the rover, the “Sounding and Security” watchstander, who, armed with a clipboard of sheets, a flashlight, and a sounding tape, would patrol below the main deck, keeping an eye on equipment in unmanned spaces, and also checking that locked spaces were, good order and discipline was in effect, and that where we had fluids in the ship, they were at the levels we projected, neither increasing or decreasing in volume beyond what operational requirements imposed. He also was charged with monitoring everywhere he traveled for general fire safety.

These things happened 24/7, even when “Cold Iron” (the main plant being secured, most often when alongside a pier and receiving shore power and water), albeit with lesser manning and the EOOW responsibility shifted to the Engineering Duty Officer of the day’s duty section, himself a qualified EOOW, in the event the ship had to “light off” and put to sea.

All the while, these men (and now women) made sure the “twidgets” had 60hz power, as well as 400hz power, air conditioning, water, chilled water, and lights to make a mere ship into a warship.

For the crew at large, they made sure the berthing spaces had water, to include hot water for showers, working “facilities” and air conditioning, too. They did and do this 24/7/365. Most often, they are never thanked properly for their daily and nightly exertions, as it’s just expected they will make things go. Almost all of them are below decks when entering port, returning home from the long deployment, where they can’t wacth for the family and friends on the pier. When the whistle blows and the words “MOORED! SHIFT COLORS!” is announced, they have several hours of work head to “wrap up” the plant before changing into either a dress uniform of their civies to head home. Due to various FAA and other restrictions, just about everything used by the topside sailors has been secured for hours, such as air search radars, missile and gun systems. The engineering plant stays running until the CO is satisfied the ship if properly moored with six standard mooring lines, doubled fore and aft. At that point, shutting down the plant begins, and, now having large metal components being hot from being operational, specific , time tested procedures are in place to let equipment, such as the propeller shafts, to slowly rotate the gear until it is basically at ambient temperatures, lest you find a “warped” shaft next time you prepare to head to sea.

Beyond that, shore power cables have to be hauled aboard the ship, connected and then paralleled with the ship’s electrical power, before the generators may be secured. This is a physical task, which, requires precision for the power shift to avoid damaging major electronic components of the Combat System. Fresh water and sewage system connections also have to be made and checked for operation, at the same time the rest of the crew is busy streaming off the ship to be greeted by the crowd ashore.

That’s by a small glimpse of what happens to make the ship operate, out of the eyes of the public, and sometimes taken for granted by some of the crew, as well. My tour in Engineering allowed me to see the hard and tedious, yet vitally important work that makes warship out an otherwise “shore battery.”

Don’t forget to thank your local “snipe” for keeping your gear supported and the hot showers you enjoy.

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

March 19th, 2008 by xformed

Sea stories? You want sea stories? Later…and I plan to bore you with one about life at sea….no kidding. More when I get “re-attached” at lunch time.

OK, it’s later. Life at sea…it’s not a wonderful life. Yes, the stars assail the eyes with displays “landlubbers” seldom are witness to. The sea life far out in the ocean will give you pause and let your mind settle on the moment for some time, considering the very different environment they occupy, where you are but an interlopper for a brief time, passing through, as it were, on your way to another part of the solid ground that emerges above the wave tops. Large and small, and sizes in between, were something of wonder to myself and my shipmates, mostly in a visual sense, but the sonar technicians also experienced the audible dimension of the creatures.

While we sail in formation, in the company of the ships of our battle or amphibious groups, where you have come to recognize voices on the radio, particular speech patterns, and associated watch changing schedules, there are many times you are “in transit,” alone with the sea and those trapped aboard with you, sometimes for weeks, but maybe only days at a time.

You may be far from the sea lanes, where merchants ply the most cost efficient route from their departure to their destinations. There are times not even air travel crosses the sky above. It is a blessing and a curse. The radios, for the most part, remain silent. Even the usually cluttered VHF for international bridge-to-bridge communications speaks nothingness to the bridge watch team. You scan the horizon, straining for some glimpse, not a breaking wave some 7-8 miles away, but the hint of a tall mast, of some vessel “hull down” on the other side of the line that separates sea from sky, but none comes. The Quartermaster of the Watch brings you the weather observation message, coded in short, well established groups, to be released at under your signature, in the stead of the Commanding Officer, so the world may know the sea surface temperature, wind direction and speed and cloud cover in your locale, a time honored tradition, suspended only when your track is classified. It is the work of centuries of sailors, mundane in each instance, yet monumental in it’s reach, to pass along a greater understanding of the weather patterns of the planet.

The sweep of the radar beams only disclose “noise” in our eyes. Rough seas and periodic anomalies in the density of pockets of air are not items of great interest, but worthy of note. Grist for the mind’s mill, with possible indications of the future environment to be experienced. We still stare at the blackened background, and just behind the ghostly green or orange “sweep” indication, as it completes each revolution, and seamlessly starts over, without hesitation, to uncomplainingly do it once more, and many more times, too. You can suddenly realize, much like a long drive on a empty interstate, that you have been awake and almost sleep simultaneously, for having focused so intently on ensuring you would first see the track of a target appear.

The striking of the Ship’s Bell, to indicate the passage of the watch in unconsciously heard and recorded. The “Ship’s Routine,” from the pages of the Ship’s Organization and Regulation Manual (SORM), is passed, as modified by the Plan of the Day (POD), as it has been for days now. Those regular events, such as Muster for Instruction and Inspection, Officer’s Call, Messing and Berthing Inspection, early chow, the regular meals and the setting of the watches, once more, have become a part of your natural circadian rhythm, and you haven’t even realized it. Your body responds by going somewhere, or making certain log entries in a stage of awakening just below the surface. The words are even routine, to the newly assigned and those who have sailed the seas before you. They are placed there by those of the US Navy, and the British Navy before that, a part of custom and tradition and expectation, and, most importantly as a definition of normality, easily scanned by the eyes of the chain of command and others who may trouble themselves to peruse the records in the future, gathered from the Naval Archives, to help them tell a tale of events and lives at sea.

The sunset comes, lighting is altered, “darken ship” curtains are rigged in passageways leading to the weather decks. Despite the lack of any detected traffic, above, on or below the sea, only navigational lights will be displayed to any eyes, human or otherwise. Internal checks are performed by the damage control petty officers, to make sure spaces not in regular use for the night hours are secured, protected from flooding and fire. Others sweep assigned areas, and collect the trash, as the “20 to 24” watch teams settle in.

The darkness adds another dimension to the day. The body tends to relax and despite the mandate for full alertness, the tiredness becomes observable. It may come as inattention to the task at hand, preferring to “shoot the bull” with shipmates on things of other topics, or in people showing physical signs of the inability to stay alert. It is not the domain of the enlisted or officer, but that of all aboard.

Despite the low level of local activity, the ship is never out of reach of routine reports required from “shore duty” sailors and civil servants, nor the umbilical of communications via radio, with the requests and “ADTAKES,” that can flow like a small stream, or a breaking dam. In addition, the exercise of regular maintenance and training continues, providing a full daylight working experience, that still leaves other tasks undone. All who have them steal time from sleep in order to catch up, then hope to bag some shut eye before they must rise, dress, brush their teeth, maybe eat, before saying “I relieve you” to a shipmate at midnight or at 3:45AM.

On the bridge, your mind prods you to continue to seek out something “non-routine” just to keep the synapses functional so as to shun the tiredness. You try to comply, but the outside world does not comply. You find a gap between the commercial radar set bracket and a mounted radio speaker and handset along the front of the Bridge, where you might substitute their support for that of your own skeleton. The goal:  Remain upright in a posture of alertness to the eyes of the other observers, yet accepting some respite from the hard decks under your feet.  You lean in and are both refreshed and relaxed for a moment. Then the conscience goes to work, silently speaking words like “duty,” “responsibility,” and related ones to you, all the while beckoning you to close your eyes and allow the rest you need to be fulfilled.

In the Combat Information Center, or Combat Direction Center, seated at your console in a large padded chair, complete with arm rests, the call is greater, the struggle to resist more intense. Here, most watch standing tasks do not allow you to be able to rise and move about, which at least, the bridge team has the luxury of doing.

The night goes on, the sunlight, possibly muted by cloud cover will come, soon, soon, you hope, before you are numbed completely.

And then it begins again, with the coming of the dawn.

Post your trackbacks in the meantime, or anytime.

Baseline Killer rip

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

March 12th, 2008 by xformed

A home for wayward links is now available here.

Sea Stories delayed due to work assignments…Secondhand Lions hd

Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road move

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

March 5th, 2008 by xformed

I’ve got a short story today, one related to the current political buzzword: “Change.”

At one command, I worked for a driven man. He slept some during the day, but mostly spent his nights awake, once making the remark “That’s how you get out of writing night orders!” (forgetting he only edited and signed what the navigator handed to him, but that’s another sea story).

Anyhow, the scheduled change of command was coming, and we were looking forward to “change.” In our minds, this sort of management style was, shall we say “difficult” to perform under, yet we drove on, knowing the tunnel was a one way traffic flow, and the several lights we had seen ahead had turned into the virtual trains that are joked about, but this time the lighting at 000 deg relative was natural light.

An amount of work had been backlogged by the leadership’s working ethic, or perhaps I should say desire to determine exactly the right tone, wording and nuanced references. Many, many edits took place of reports leaving the command. So, there we were, at sea, during a fleet exercise for the upcoming deployment, with full watch standing responsibilities, with the direction to get everything wrapped up.

Needless to say, once more, sleep was an almost unheard of luxury for about a week. One late evening, the Ops Boss and I were in the donated staff space on our guest vessel, slogging through our assigned tasks, adding some manufactured cheer to our attitudes, when all of a sudden, he looked at me and said: “What if he’s (the incoming commander) worse?” Hard, in that moment, to imagine, but there was that possibility. We got quiet and went back to work. At about 0230 on the morning of the change of command (at sea, working environment, with the Battle Group Commander heloing over to speak), I was told, as the signature went on the report that had been in the works for 6 months, that it was my fault that it was late (2 months at that point). A cheery “Aye, aye, sir” was all I could dare to respond with. That job was now done.

“Change” occurred about 1100 that morning. After lunch, we were ordered to the commander’s cabin, he looked about, with a big grin on his face and asked “did everyone get enough sleep last night?” Oh, no….He continued, as no one said a word: “Get to bed. I can’t afford tired people making bad decisions. I’ll take the watch and call you when I’m getting tired.”

Needless to say, there was major change in the working environment.

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

February 20th, 2008 by xformed

Free space here to advertise your posts….

Check out Frank Gaffney’s take on Nancy. You know, it’s “Blue Light Special” time form jihadi communications. I bet some comm lines are burning up now, while they use all the bandwitdh they can, setting up operations and logistics, free from being listened to in the US. Abrogation of responsibility that comes to mind.

Training for a new job, and not sitting at a computer, nor will the work be near one, either.

Stay tuned, watch for the shot by an AEGIS BMD ship, pay attention to what Barack isn’t saying, and if you’re looking for a free bottle of water, hang out near the front row of one of his gatherings.The Omen rip

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Ropeyarn Sunday “Sea Stories” and Open Trackbacks

February 6th, 2008 by xformed

Ropeyarn was canceled today, but Open Trackbacks aren’t!

A “sea story” of sorts:

Sorta like when the 1st plane flew into the WTC, the reaction was one of “OMG! How horrible!” It took a second, then third for us to know it wasn’t a major coincidence.

First one, then two, now four submarine cables have been cut that provide internet and associated data services to the Middle East.

It’s not like there haven’t been storms in the area of the Suez Canal before, with ships dragging anchor. Worth keeping track of….

Update: Bonus! I’m ripping Taco Bell, the kilt wearing Gyrene, off for a sea story (yes, Marines are part of the Navy). He has a great one up about a dummied up letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes, while serving on an island full of Marines back in 1994. It’s a hoot!

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Ropeyarn Sunday "Sea Stories" and Open Trackbacks

January 23rd, 2008 by xformed

“Blogging Block” (at least with “Sea Stories”) still in place.

Found this, tho

from January (13th to be exact), 1917….the reason not to use a heavy cruiser to pull a grounded sub off the beaches of California…USS MILAWAUKEE goes hard aground trying to get H-3 out of trouble. End result: lost the ship. Salvaged from the place beached by bad judgment.

More info on the event is here. It seems the private bids (from experts in salvage, mind you, seemed too expensive, so…tell the “Can Do” guys to turn to, it’s just pulling a sub back to deep water, after all. Sound too familiar?

A detailed report, “The Valor of Inexperience” by CAPT Harvey Haislip, USN (Retired) was published in Proceedings in Feb 1967.The Driver

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Ropeyarn Sunday “Sea Stories” and Open Trackbacks

November 28th, 2007 by xformed

Ropeyarn was not passed on the virtual 1MC until the working party got wrapped up….

“Sea Story?”

Not a very exciting one, but a slice of life for sea going sailors, nonetheless.

Parking. Yes, a mundane part of life, but, back in the day, when the giant Soviet Union commanded most of our professional focus, and that of the nation’s leaders, we were headed for a 600 ship Navy. So, figure 600 hundred ship have sailors, and chiefs and officers. And some of these actually drove to work while the ships were pierside, the plant secured and shore services providing the “hotel services” needed to keep operating.

At all of the naval stations I was stationed at, the parking “scheme” was: Officer (blue sticker) parking up front, with Chief Petty Officer parking next, and then the enlisted/general parking. The game rules were:

Park where your sticker allowed, or get a ticket from Base Security.

If you were an officer, you had two places to park, Officer and Enlisted.

If you were a CPO, you had two places to park, CPO and Enlisted.

If you had a red sticker of the enlisted ranks, or were a visitor or civil servant, you had one place to park.

Makes sense. The modification to the rule was officers couldn’t park in CPO parking. That wasn’t as big an issue on regular days, but, when special occasions arose, such as changes of command, or ship arrivals (from deployment), the up front, closest to the ships parking was usually roped off for those the special occasion was being held for. The closet parking was, with minor exception, the Officer lots.

Arriving at work, to find cones/barricades/tape up, and usually a roving enlisted watch preventing you from parking in the officer’s lot, then you couldn’t “fall back” to the CPO lots. You had to go sharking for a spot in the general/enlisted lot. Somehow, it just didn’t make much sense, but it was what it was, because a large percentage of the Base Security force happened to be retired chief petty officers. The “club members” took care of the current up and coming retirees, who had made it through the process of the CPO Initiations.

That was one bite in the butt, and I survived, but another situation seemed to be rather prevalent, and, in a conspiratorial sense, linked to the issue brought up in the paragraph above:

On normal days at the pier, you might arrive and find all of the officer spots taken, or darn few left. While transiting from the vehicle to the pier between the cars, it became apparent there was a number of cars sporting red base stickers, not blue. Now, when turning and glancing at the vicinity of the CPO lot, you’d most likely see a ticket or two under windshield wipers for those brazen E-6 and below who dared to venture onto the hallowed ground, yet a dearth of same on offenders taking spaces from the arriving officers. Something about the Base Security force being largely comprised of retired CPOs….

It was what it was, but on some days, when the work before Officer’s Call was a large task, the frustration sometimes emerged in a vocal sense.

I did, having arrived at a reasonable Oh, Dark Thirty, time, before sunrise one fine Navy day, find the spot in the front row of the Officer’s lot, that had had a portable sign at the head of the spot, in accordance with the NAVSTA SOPA regulations, saying “CHENG, DD979,” laying face down on the ground and a car with a red sticker occupying the spot I was allowed. I drove around and found a spot in the way away at the back end of the Enlisted lot, then hiked, before the sun rose, to the ship at the D&S piers. I let the XO know this was unsat, and he looked at me and said something like: “Well, my spot wasn’t taken.” Note: SOPA allowed the CO, XO and CMC parking signed to per placed on the pier we were moored at. Not only was it separated from the other parking lots (obviously), there were guards posted (from the ship’s companies of the ships at the pier) who controlled who came on and off the pier, in vehicles or on foot. The XO seemed to have not grasped that fact in the moment.

Anyhow, later that day, I re-expressed my issue, pointing out the Base Security sure had time to ticket non-CPO vehicles, but couldn’t move their donut munching bodies a few tens of yards closer to the water’s edge to police the officer’s lot. I point out it was a matter of laziness, not the inability to patrol, because they had been making sure the CPOs had their lots protected from intrusion, and, on top of that, I got aboard about 20 minutes later, which cut my work time. He made a call.

It wasn’t like I needed the exercise, it’s more I always managed to make a long day longer, but getting there early enough to get a few “hours” of work done (I found out a Navy work hour was really about 10 minutes long, when the crew was aboard and it was “working hours” – when it was not work and not a duty day, I could get an “hours” worth of work done in about 10 minutes).

Now that we have fewer ships, and even with the base consolidations, I know (and saw last year), such turf wars are not as big of an issue, because on a “work day” around the D&S piers on Norfolk, the enlisted lot was only half full. Plenty of parking to go around. I guess I’m only left to wonder if the same retired CPOs are still patrolling the lots….

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