How Sea Story Thursday was born:
My Uncle & Dad. That’s the plain and simple reason. While on leave they both kept bringing up stories I had told them over the past few years at sea. My Uncle told me that he loved to tell my stories to anyone who would listen. hmmmm… I’ve got plenty more where that came from, maybe I’ll make it a weekly rendition. Done!
Right before I left Japan we completed an engineering inspection. It was the second go around because we didn’t do so hot the first time and after all the sweat, blood, stress, and craziness we lived through during that one week of hell, we were pretty motivated to go above and beyond the second time around so we wouldn’t have to deal with this shit again.
This time we considered ourselves smarter and I was put in charge of Aux 1. If you aren’t so familiar with the engineering spaces, just know that there are 4 main engine rooms and I was going to oversee one of them to make sure we were doing everything we needed to pass the inspection.
One of the requirements before they even start any inspection is complete Safe to Operate (STO). If you didn’t have that acronym being run through your head 500 times a day then you obviously weren’t a part of the engineering department. With this acronym comes one big rule that is a bitch to maintain and that rule is NO oil, NO water, NO fuel, NO liquid anywhere in the engine spaces, specifically the bilge.
Here is a picture of us down in one of the engine rooms “riding the shaft” if you will. We were cleaning one of the spaces prior to the inspection and you could say its a Bilge Dive but we probably aren’t dirty enough and covered in enough fuel and oil for it to be authentic. I’m in the back and K is in front of me, she was my roommate on the ship and one of my closest confidants, which is probably why she was down there in the first place! To help us out.
When the inspectors come on board they act like they ain’t never been a part of a ship before and they are pretty merciless coming up with hits for every little thing. Its quite the game you end up playing.
Anyway, we’d been up real late the whole week prior to the inspection cleaning the bilges, drying the bilges, and yadda yadda. We show up at 0530 on the first day of the inspection and there’s a void in the corner of the engine room full to the brim with oily water. I mean, where is this stuff coming from?! What were we going to do, with only 2 hours until the inspection team arrived.
We grabbed some people, took them down and had them start wet vacuuming this shit out. It was a hurricane of a disaster because during the transfer it was sloshing about all over the place, we had garbage bins of rags strewn about. As the time drew near for the inspectors to come down to the space, the space LPO tells one of the newer guys to run to the mess decks (cafeteria for all you civilian folk) and bring back 2 oranges, an apple, a pear, and whatever other round fruit he could get his hands on.
I looked at him, shook my head, told him I didn’t even want to know and walked away.
Needless to say the inspectors came through the space, deemed us Safe to Operate (they couldn’t find a drip or drop of liquid anywhere important) and we began our hot and cold checks on all the main engine equipment.
Later that day, everybody that works in the space and I had met in the control room and we were going over the events when I turned to Mkins and asked him what exactly he had done with the fruit. He takes me back over to that void and points to a pipe leading down into it. “You see this pipe?” he says.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Well, we couldn’t figure out how to stop the leak coming out of it, so we stuffed it with an orange and the orange sealed it enough that nothings coming out of there anymore.”
So I crawl down into that void with my flashlight and look up under the pipe, and sure as shit there’s an orange wedged up in there.
O how we laughed. We were all high-fiving each other because we were able to get Safe to Operate with an orange stuck in a pipe to stop a leak. Now if that ain’t some engineering genius I don’t know what is.
At the end of the week I told the Top Snipe the story, the most senior enlisted guy in the engineering department, in this case a Senior Chief and he told me we were all out of control. We laughed so hard in the Engineering Office I couldn’t even stand up.