Monday, June 17, 2019


I started for the wrongest of reasons. Still don't regret it. Running back up the pier at Manama with a smoke in my lips (jaunty) while the complete useless asshole skipper was 'working out' on the rowing machine on the stack deck and watching me every inch of the quarter mile while running and smoking: priceless.

Don't worry, I got over it. I still enjoyed the look of incredulous rage on his face as I came up the brow and tossed the butt into the sea though. That alone was worth it.

Tell you what it did though and I think this matters.

Every single day, every hour or two, I stepped away from my desk and went for a smoke. I didn't like to stand and smoke so I walked. I usually did a lap around all of SPAWARSYSCOM or just the hanger my office was located in. One building was a smoke walk, all 3 of them was a 2 smoke walk. It was the first place I ever worked where we had people, lots and lots of people, dedicated to making the PPBS work. A lot of them had charts on the cube walls showing the planning programming budgeting system. I later saw this in another role at NECC and a few other Atlantic commands.  They really really really thought it mattered.

Perhaps it does. It never mattered to me. Either the money would show up or it would not and I would once again accustom myself to doing more with less. It's pretty much how I did things for the first 20 years.

As with smoking, it is a relief to know that if it comes down to it, sometimes you get to shoot the assholes and your country gave you big guns, 50 calibre machine guns, M16s and your stateroom has a  loaded .45 hanging in a holster on a hook on the back of the door.

I found it was preferable to just go outside sometimes, chat with with others, go for a walk and then head back into the office. You don't go to the office to make money.

If someone calls, the machine will take their message
If someone emails, it will still be there
If someone comes by, they will come back or leave a message

The secret lesson was this, if you leave your cover and keys on the desk, people assume you just stepped out for a moment. Having 2 sets of keys and no real need to wear a cover means you can actually be at the beach playing volleyball.

Life is what you make of it.

Captain, USN


SCOTTtheBADGER said...

You seem to have established a philosophy.

HMS Defiant said...

Some of the most remarkable thing on that one particular ship was that a pistol hung on that hook for years and nobody ever signed for it. Same ship, we picked up either a SEAL det or an EOD det off HERCULES and conveyed them to Bahrain which was about a full day transit during which they'd stuck all of their pistols in a muslin bag and dropped it in the spud locker on the port quarter fantail where they forgot all about them when they disembarked. The cook or one of the galley slaves came up to me and asked what to do with them. For all my mytholizing it turns out I was actually one of your honest sailors and called the local base and arranged to send them to the people who might have signed for them. You really can't be too sure with either SEALS or EOD. I remember we ran into some problems in Kuwait with ammo during the Gulf War and we took appropriate steps. The SEALS had two lieutenants audit the SEAL CONEX boxes and they found roughly a million pounds of ammo and weapons was gone without anybody signing for any of it. I remember one of the SEALs I took over from told me about his amazement on moving into his new house how many grenades and rounds he still had in his deuce gear when he packed up his garage.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

That is rather disquieting information. One likes to think of elites as being more disciplined than that.

HMS Defiant said...

You know they're really not, right? I don't cast the name of Dick Marcinko around lightly. I was back from my first year in the Gulf when the things at SEAL TEAM 6, DEVGRU came to light about how they kidnapped people, tortured them and played mind games when they did their thing here in America. It opened my eyes. I spent 20 years as the OPFOR for SEALs. We weren't buddies. We had TIS and they didn't understand it. There's a reason why I was open to the idea and ordered that anybody who attacked our nuclear capable ship at the piers in San Diego get shot and die in the attempt. Back then the SEALs used to send in swimmers and zodiacs to run Zulu 5 Oscars on us, poor benighted fools from their base in Coronado.
This was in the pre-blog days but they had some idea how we felt about them when we'd light them up with a 24 inch carbon arc searchlight and track them all around the piers until Base Security called us and told us to knock it off.

We didn't. We didn't work for base security or his boss and that light could light the dark side of the moon and it relentlessly followed them all the way back to Glorietta Bay.

For the underwater efforts from Coronado, a SQQ 32 just wasn't powerful enough. You'd need a SQS-53 in full bottom bounce triple freek to screw that up very very much. We used to test it after the upgrade to the C model in Seattle and the hotel built on the pier up in north Seattle would call us at Todd Shipyard and ask us to please stop. The sound was painful for their residents. That was through an air barrier we thought would collapse the sound. Ha!

capt fast said...

we used to do a moon bounce with the apy1 to calibrate at tinker. waiting for the moon to be high above the horizon was tedious for someone one day, so they fired the beam when the moon just peeked over the horizon. sadly, the phone company switching center was aligned between the e3 and the moon and they were moving equipment that day and had their loading dock doors wide open. long distance service was out for a few hours until they swapped out the fried boards. some day some smart guys should plant a transponder on the moon that would return a signal quality report, but it is fun to measure the height of the crater rim mountains. great use for a billion dollar flying radar station.

HMS Defiant said...

There were a bunch of wonderful stories by DV Gallery and I remember the one where a young pilot was sent to Siberia after being cheated by the railroad. In return, he flew down the line with his landing light on and the oncoming train that it was another train and melted the wheels applying the brakes.

Not everything that looks like a mistake or error really is. My sister and brother-in-law spent 6 years working at Kurtland in the high energy physics lab. They had a few amusing stories. I made up the rest. I mean come on, Curtland. It's right down my alley.

HMS Defiant said...

THOUGHT it was an oncoming train. One of the worst features about this place is nobody can edit a comment. Dammit.