Monday, September 22, 2014

'Vic's Bell'

Another Sea Story from a shipmate during the Cold War era! Anybody remember shining Quarterdeck bright work?!? I remember it well… Anyhow, here’s another cool sea story from Vic Albright...

My first few weeks aboard the ‘Gray Ghost of the South China Coast,’ USS Gridley, I was a 19 year old FTMSN with an attitude and had an LPO, FTM1 Morris, who took it upon himself to straighten it outta me as soon as possible! Being an E-3, on duty days I was tasked with Brightwork Detail!! As soon as I got my Nevr-Dull and rags, my LPO, who was also my Section Leader, grabbed hold of me and brought me up to the foc'sle!!!

There, alongside the ASROC launcher, was a big brass bell… the ‘Ship’s Bell,’ complete with green vertigrae and nasty as hell! I was told by FTM1 that my job was to shine that bell and to keep working on it until it was pertty & shiny!! Of course with my bad attitude, I Gave FTM1 plenty of flak, but he didn't care…

"Albright, you will stay up here and shine that bell until I tell you otherwise!"

That first day, I worked on that stupid bell for hours! When the word was passed over the 1MC to ‘Secure from Brightwork Detail’ FTM1 was right there, telling me to keep going!! I worked on that stupid bell right on up until lunch time, when he finally cut me loose for messcrank’n in the Wardroom!!!

The next duty day, much of the same.... my hands were green from scrubb’n & shining and still no glimmer on that bell! I fell into a rut... knowing enough on my duty days to grab my stuff and head for the bell!!!

After about a month, the bell started to get a bit of luster to it!!!

After maybe six, eight weeks of working on that stupid piece of brass, it actually started looking pretty good...and early on FTM1 had passed the word along that no other duty section was to work on it!!!

After eight or ten weeks, the bell was looking great, and I really had a mirror image going on… and I kind of took pride in it!!!

One morning, I went up to shine ‘my bell’ and somebody else was already there... I confronted him, explaining that it was my job alone to shine that bell, and I started getting flak....

"Every duty day I see you here shining this bell, and now you can go do something else... I want to shine it!"

Little known to me, FTM1 was right there and told the new Boot Camper…

"This is Vic's Bell and it is HIS job to shine it!"

I was taken back a bit, not expecting Morris to have my back so to speak… with my poor attitude and all! The entire time I was an FTMSN my first duty during Brightwork detail was to shine that bell... of course once it was looking good, I could not milk it and had to shine turnbuckles and other stuff!! Eventually I transferred off the Gridley and moved on with my career!!!

When I was an FTM2 I was aboard FOX and Gridley was moored in Long Beach Naval Shipyard! I to the Gridley for a part or something… don’t remember the exact reason!! I asked the POOW for ‘Permission to Come aboard!!’ While waiting on the Quarterdeck for my escort from below deck, I noted the gleaming bell alongside the ASROC launcher and made mention of it to the POOW...

"Oh, That's Vic's Bell."

I had to ask…

"Why do you call it that?"

The response...

"I don't know... that's what we always called it!"

A lesson in pride and humility I suppose!!!


  1. Awesome story! Funny what a little sweat equity and focus does for a young sailor in the pride dept.

    Dan, love your page! From content like this to the nasty, dirty jokes to the stories of the PI! :-)

  2. Trust me, the basis of the story is indeed a "no-shitter"... I know, because I was there!

    Vic, former FTMSN USS Gidley CG-21 1980

  3. I was onboard Gridley 1983-85. OS3/OS2 Overholt