Sunday, September 15, 2019


When I reported aboard my first ship in 1984 in the Persian Gulf I was appointed Auxiliaries Officer. Among the 72 compartments on that ship that were now, in essence, mine, I found a unique couple just above Emergency Diesel Generator #1 and just below E and A Division berthing. It wasn't like the run of the mill machine shop, boat shop, my office in the former Senior Troop Commander's office or anything like the ballast pump rooms, JP 5 pump room or even After Steering. It was, as you guessed it, the Brig. 2 cells as I recall plus the compartment holding the Petty Officer of legal assigned to torture prisoners in the cells on a warship then at sea in a combat zone. Srsly. One had to pass this palace to get down to EDG#1 with it's utterly useless Woodward governor where the equally useless generator would instantly flail to life when the automatic bus transfer switch told it the load was lost and compel it start and come on line. It would start just fine. Nothing wrong there. The governor would let it over speed trip at about 8000 rpm and there was nothing we could do to fix it even after calling in a very expensive tech rep from Woodward.

Most people picked up on the power failure when the main switchboards and steam turbines went offline. Every other soul on that ship could hear EDG#1 start and howl its way to the point where the over speed trip caused it to trip offline and shutdown. Me and the rest of A gang used to head all the way aft to the port wing wall basement where EDG#2 was and make sure it was going to survive.

We had problems with that once in the Red Sea where some obnoxious supply petty officer from HM-14 had closed all the cooling supply valves to the generator because he was getting 'condensation' off the pipes on his precious HM-14 RH-53 worthless helicopter supplies. Yeah, I did the JAGMAN on that one when we lost 2 cylinders on that Fairbanks Morse diesel forever because he'd completely chopped off all cooling to the thing.

We went out today to pick apples with a gang that's been doing it for the last 10 years and then we went to lunch for Indian cuisine. It was all good. I think a great time was had by all. It was fun to see the head of the Department know what he was doing and take leave of us and his wife and assistant and family from the one table in order to go over and spread the love, respect and affection he had for the grad students he had taught over the years that came out today at the table they were sitting at.

He came back when his only adorable grand daughter and her parents joined our table, to spend some quality baby holding time before heading back.

I'm not an academic nor academic trained. The leadership on display today was just exactly like what I was trained for and was flawlessly executed. It was a study in how to build teams to make things you want to, happen.

It was a good day. Wish you could have been here.

The post script. As I recall, 100% of ship's brigs were derated and declared null and void in 1983. What I essentially owned and never actually went into were 3 or 4 sizeable compartments on a warship that used the shaft alleys and stray voids as storage for essential supply part storage. The Supply Department had extensive spaces for that kind of thing but they never stored what you absolutely had to have right now and so engineers over the millennia have taken to finding places to store the stuff they really really really need while Supply works on sending in a request to an indifferent system that may, or may not, send them. Plus, all they really have is the enginerooms and need to find places to store the stuff they need and it's always, 'off the books'.

Supply really really hates us since we keep foiling their ineffable system.


capt fast said...

an old school USAF colonel told us to do what was necessary to maintain our operational readiness status in 1972. He covered for us quite well until he retired.
I found out that we had parts stashed in hidden places tagged for proper condition and under lock and key unknown by supply guys.
our new commander let us know it will be put to an end.
He was the NORAD PIO before getting his first unit command assignment to Iceland. It got interesting to observe how technicians would attempt to subvert the supply system. The commander had a good grasp of the units finances and on hand resources. he detailed some poor schmuck to provide diligent guidance to the effective use of unit resources and get a grip on unit expenses, unquote. the most difficult part was turning in all the "legacy" supplies. over the years, the supplies origin was lost in time and paperwork unless it was DIFM. When the good faith effort was made, supply told us the stuff did not exist on paper; no harm no foul. If we did turn it in, serious questions would ensue no one had answers for. I point out that, in the age of the transistors and LSI chips, most of the electronics on the EC-121/WV-2 was of the vacuum tube variety with steam gauges galore, but there was some pretty trick stuff. Quite a bit of the black box spares were put into storage onboard the aircraft and we waved good bye to it all after it rotated to home station every 90 days. a lot was left behind.
Our avgas came off of a Russian flagged tanker at Reykjavik harbor-it was good stuff 115/145 NATO standard avgas out of France and we had fewer spare R-3350 engines then we had airplanes to hang them on. AFI was so ad hoc I wouldn't know how to describe it.
the mission ended eventually and to my knowledge, that stuff is still locked up in a storage closet somewhere in time and space never to be seen again.

Roy said...

Guys, guys. Please, Acronyms...

Not everybody here was in the Air Force. When you use an acronym, write it out at least once so those of us who were not "NORAD PIO" would know what in hell you are talking about.

I know what NORAD and NATO are, but what is "PIO" and "DIFM" .

capt fast said...

public information officer. A good posting at North American Defense command, a major command down in Colorado Springs with a hidey hole in Cheyenne Mountain. DIFM is for various qualities of a high value and/or highly classified materials. acronyms change over the years and the brain becomes useless,sorry for that.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Badgers love EC-121s/WV-2s!

capt fast said...

there was a few things about EC-121T variants not much liked by those who had to go aboard them. this would have been the ones with the large cooling scoop and ducting aft the nose landing gear. that housed the condenser for the auxiliary cooling air system for the singer kearcroft computer system installed just forward of the rear pressure bulkhead and also cooling for the radar and displays. when the hydraulic motor powered condenser pump kicked in, the airframe shook mightily. one of those must have items on hot and humid days in south east asia. to say it was not enough would be an understatement. the evaporator was dead center over the isle just aft the main radar controls station. guaranteed to crease you skull if you didn't duck low enough. foam padding did not help at all if you stood over 5'6" in your bare feet. all to keep a computer cool.
OTGH, the computer could-when all the auspices were in congruity and the gods of electrons were placated with the odor of hot rosin and solder-run an automated intercept with F-106 or F-101 aircraft. computer was programmed with a paper tape reader and the whole package was so heavy we lost one aux oil tank, one cabin heater, the rear fuselage fuel tank and placed two 1200 pound static inverters just aft the cockpit bulkhead to stay within acceptable balance. the number of hours of good data operations could be counted with two hands.
the E-3 AWAC system is so much more...everything. like going from a sopwith camel to the starwars x-wing. one would hope the DOD would also procure some of the newer AWAC systems to enhance the E-3's abilities in the areas it is not flat out excellent. I gather the eventual plan is to ground base the mission crew out of harm's way and use the aircraft as an almost disposable sensor platform(sounds harsh for the flight and mission support crew, doesn't it?) in which case there won't be a need for an aircraft the size of an intercontinental airliner weighing in at close to half a million pounds wet.
but, there is just something about the sound and smell of a big radial engine and prop whipping the air into abject submission.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Use a Ginormous drone?