Monday, February 25, 2019


As we made our way to San Francisco after departing our home port of San Diego we received a very long radio message. The RMs brought it to me on the clipboard with the rest of the message traffic and I initialed it. It was a comprehensive list of all the really mean and shitty things the Admiral on Treasure Island would do to me if I spilled so much as one drop of fuel or lube oil into Mayor Diane Feinstein's pristine bay.

When the skipper asked me if I was going to include fuel in the logreq (logistics request message every navy ship sends to its next port of call), I said, nope. I'll send some of the lads over to NAS Alameda to bring back a couple hundred gallons of 9250 lube oil in 55 gallon drums. And so I did and so they did. They pretty much maxed out/destroyed the springs in that little Toyota pick up truck but at least I wasn't going to have face the totally going to happen burps from my 1954 fuel oil system. Nope, not taking on fuel in San Francisco. My class of ship had unrefueled ranges of over a thousand miles and San Francisco was just 500 miles from home.

Admittedly, as we were passing through the Santa Barbara ship channel with a very nice view of California on my port and charming little waterless islands on my starboard, I was a little bit surprised when my LCPO and engineering guru approached me on the bridge where I had the deck. It had never happened before and never happened again.

"Sir," he said, "We have a little problem."
"What could that be," I asked.
"We only get water out of our last fuel tank."

I approached the CO who was lounging in the CO chair on the bridge and asked if he would mind taking the deck and the conn while I went below to look into a minor little problem in the engineroom. Captain Smarthearing told me he had the deck and the conn and to give him advance warning before we ran out of fuel.

Like all of my peers I have a thousand million stories that would amuse and do, but I like this one. I have known hundreds of Chief Petty Officers but this one, he was the best of them. The rotations of the Mine War destroyed the old established regime where one knew what happened to the men you knew and served with. I never knew what became of him after he and I rotated to Esteem in different rotations. He was gone before I got home. I suppose, now that I think about it, it was our Vietnam. Thousands and thousands of good men serving with other good men in a war zone and never saw them again thanks to the draft and the personnel strategies dreamed up by men.

Of course, reading that as written, that last sentence. I think back to the readings of my life on WWII and the replacement companies which 'filled the need' of 20,000 man divisions in the war that would lose 13,000 men to death and wounds in Europe. As usual, history isn't what you know. It's what you think you know.


SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Down funnel, up sail!

HMS Defiant said...

Well, as you can see from the blog header, our little ships did have nice wooden masts rooted through the Combat Information Center but they displaced over 900 tons and the mast would need to be about 100 feet higher to get any kind of movement with sails alone.
In the old days before I got aboard, the ship would break down and have to anchor overnight just off the shore while they tried to get at least one of the main propulsion diesels working long enough to make it the last 100 yards to shore.