Tuesday, June 2, 2015

'The Fanroom Express'

I don’t want to tack-weld this yarn together… but memories oxidize & rust and this account goes way back to my days on the ol’ Baglady, so if I don’t get it 100% right… it was all those late nights of iniquity, I promise! Now the Baglady was a ship where everybody seemed to know everyone else!! We were a rag-tag bunch of fellas probably something culpable to McHale’s Navy!!!


Now put that group of seagoing misfits in the PI and see what happens! A naturally sheltered harbor, Subic had been the Navy's Westpac crown jewel since the turn of the century, with ship services & dry docks, an air field and enough room for the whole seventh fleet at once!! It was also hot enough to incubate a dozen chickens from under your armpits!! In the land of Milk & Honey… all attributed to the ‘LBFMs’, men seldom got drunker to pick up easy women and prove their manhood!! With so much to do in Subic it still bewilders me to this day why any young man would do what my boy Douggy did!!!


Fan rooms were a common place to smoke the ol’ wacky weed in the years before piss tests! And yes, that habitual tradition carried on well into the years after ‘Operation Golden Flow’ came to be!! But some fools never bothered to check where the fan exhaust went!! That’s when a couple of Crackerjacks were discovered smoking in the fan room!!!


First off… vents travel all around the ship and there’s no telling where the scent may end up! If you’re gonna be a pothead, you need to close those damned vents or block them up!! If your vent doesn’t have a switch or lever, throw a wet towel over it!!!


There was one story I’d heard of a sailor who made sure the fan room exhaust went outside the skin of the ship… only to find out later the exhaust was over a refueling station and the ship was alongside for Unreps, bathing the Bos’n in charge as well as twenty or so line handlers with that warm smell of colitis rising up through the air!!!


Well… This was one classic case where the Seadog in question was smoking the ganja in a fan room which fed air to the Electronic Warfare Shop! It was a pretty laid-back evening in the PI!! I was out in the town chasing the Honey-Koes when this happened so I got wind of it through second hand smoke if you know what I mean!!!


Somewhere abouts 2000 Hours the EW1 was on duty hanging out in his shack when the shit literally hit the fan! He scowled and sniffed until he zeroed in on the overhead ventilation duct!! Yep, the smell was unmistakable… and since he owned that fan room he knew exactly where to catch the culprit!!!


At that point EW1 was as pissed as a fart in a vacuum cleaner… and after sitting in his shop breathing in the incense he probably felt like one too! He was about to make himself known… as welcome as a hole in a lifeboat to whomever it was in his fan room stink’n up the joint like a skunk in heat!!


“Ooooh that smell… the smell of cannabis all around you!”


… That’s all he could think about touting his way out to the weather decks!!!


EW1 moved with intent as he headed out! He knew it was coming from the 03 level, portside fan room!! For inspection purposes it was the EW crew’s property and responsibility!!!


First he grabbed the dogg’n wrench, and after little thought gave it a quick knock…


“Open up in there!”


… with that he got no answer! Again…


“Come on out… I know you’re in there!”


… this went on a few minutes! Finally…


“Here’s a hint, if we don’t answer the first few times, what makes you think the next few are going to get us to come out?”


… This got EW1 pretty hot under the collar!


“I said get your asses out here or I’m coming in!”


… To which some moron replied…


“My Mom said never talk to strangers and since you're really strange.... I guess that means I can't talk to you… Ha-Ha-Ha!”


That was it… with his head pressed against the bulkhead he wrestled with the dogging wrench! He said he could hear murmuring coming from the space! As the dogs receded, he slowly swung the hatch open, held his breath and poked his head in!! That smoky compartment revealed a couple of young characters encircled with the bouquet of sinsemilla!!!


There was a dead silence, so dead you could hear mice pissing on cotton or was that cotton mouth… or something… anyway! Once the smoke cleared EW1 said he could see a couple of bleary eyed idiots in the back look’n like they just walked out of a forest fire!! When asked what they thought they were doing in ‘his’ fan room they all wondered together in unison and harmony… coming away empty!!!


Apparently Douggy didn’t bother to put down the doobie attached to his hand as tenaciously as panicked barnacles!


“Put that shit down… and keep rolling your eyes at me! Maybe you’ll find a gauddamned brain back there!”


Clearly disappointed, we knew he was a goner as soon as word got around… ain’t nobody gonna be forgiven in that instance! 


“Douggy, what the hell got into you? That idea didn’t seem any sillier than bathing in used motor oil!”


“It wasn’t my idea… Seaman ‘Such-n-Such’ had some Thai Stick and offered to share!”


“So you had to be weak and go along with it?”


“Now, remember, I’m a sailor who’s always ready to oblige a shipmate, so without question I felt I had to oblige!”


“But there’s so much to do here… why take the chance?”


“Well I was on duty, and I figured what the hell… you only live once, and most people don’t even do that!”


“I hope it was worth it!”


“WoW… let me tell you! I took a hit off that Thai Stick and I swear I was on a rocket ship to Pluto! Within an hour the Tooth Fairy strapped a rocket booster to my ass and launched me into outer space!! I now fully understand what ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ was all about!”


… Shaking my Head…


“I was feeling no pain! I took one step and went two miles....taking a stroll through the ship after words was a real adventure...something like a maze in a psychedelic art museum or riding one of them funhouse rides at the carnival!”


 Look’n yonder at the hillside overlooking Olongapo…

“Wow man… all the plants are so green you’d think they had batteries in them!”


“So what are you gonna do now… work at some factory making bowling trophies or recycling old beer cans?”


“Beats sitt’n here year after year in this inescapable hull of haze grey and unspeakable monotony while some low-voltage idiot rambles on about that which would drive a garden slug to suicide!”


To a young sailor… if it ain’t worth doing, then it’s worth doing to wild excess! Most of us were nothing but riff-raff… some salvageable, some just not worth a damn!! Almost all were involved in smuggling back from liberty of some degree… hell I even found a bag of weed stuffed in a CO2 nozzle!!!


And Shipmates, that ‘Ain’t No Shit!  That’s also why they nicknamed the ‘Good Conduct Medal’ the ‘I Ain’t Got Caught Yet Medal’!! Those were crazy days, yes they were… !!! 


  1. On the KNOX (DE-1052), we had a young RM3 do that but the fan room he was in went to the Wardroom. Needless to say, he wasn't an RM3 anymore and had no security clearance.

  2. The armory was the place to be barring the door from the inside and taping up the window to keep the roving patrol grin getting to nosy. Angle irons and lockers plenty of places to hide that contraband

  3. Just when you think you've heard 'em all!

    At least they got caught before the shit REALLY hit the fan!

    I can tell you a story about that.

    My first ship, we'll call her the "Callie."
    I was a non-rated deck ape (struck Supply after our Earnest Will deployment). There were three other non-rates junior to me in deck division, and one was a stoner. No big secret, though these were the days when "Zero Tolerance" were new. Kid was high WHILE on weekend duty more than once in the weeks before we deployed.
    Now, the stoner's assigned GQ station was Repair 5.
    This weighs heavily on the story, b/c these were also the days when Halon was new in the fleet. The Callie had some problems with the initial Halon installation during a yard availability in early '88 (outlets installed in CCS that weren't supposed to be, confusion as to said outlets being wired up, etc. You get the idea....)
    Callie is out on deployment. We're JUST inside the P.G., just north of the Straits of Hormuz, playing wargames with the Saudi Air Force. (Hide and Seek, and we're IT. EMCON and the whole nine yards, yada yada yada...)
    One of the stoner's assigned GQ duties is to "man the halon button."
    So, we're conducting GQ drills while playing hide-and seek with friendly F-15s. I'm assigned to the starboard 25mm during the deployment. One minute, everything's jake. The next, Callie is DEAD in the water. The NEXT, there's the roar of jet engines, and we're overflown by one of said friendly 15s. WTF, over?
    Dafuq is.... down in repair five, they're running fire drills.
    Guess what the stoner did (and what state he was in at the time)?
    Yep, high as a kite, he didn't hear "SIMULATE!"
    Halon's flooding main engineering, AND CCS! Guys pouring up from below like the devil's on their asses! Engineering Mainframe is FRIED. (CCS outlets were right by the systems.)
    BIG trouble. MAJOR embarrassment for the captain. Had to be towed out through the Straits to the Gulf of Oman for repair availability with the USS Prairie. Stoner was made to take a piss test. BOOM. Positive for grass. Drumhead captain's mast, and shipped home to await an OTH/Admin discharge. He went home on the same helo as the CHENG, who was relieved for negligence (due to the halon fuck-up that wouldn't have happened
    if CHENG hadn't let the yardbirds fuck up the installation in the first place.)
    Never shoulda happened. (O'course, he shoulda been popped before we left San Dog, so....)

  4. As a OSSN, I once caught a OS3 tootin on a piece of Hashish in the back of CIC. I went off on him. No way in hell I wanted a doped up fool on surface radar watch. Caught another OS3 rolling his doobies on my rack since it was a secluded spot..

  5. On the "Less Than Fun" in the mid '70s, the dopers were pretty darn common. For the snipes, After Auxillary space seemed to be the favorite hangout to roll one and burn it. Airdales seemed to like the catwalks along the flight deck at night. I spent many a ready boat crew watch next to the motor whaleboat smelling the stuff...

  6. Back in the day a buddy and I used to smoke some stuff down in the deep magazine fwd. Only one way in and out, so we couldn't be surprised. And we could hear anyone coming from 3 levels up. Of course there was the little problem of all that ammo around us. But it all seemed a little hazy at the time. And we ended up in one piece.

  7. I worked in deck with a guy who would sit on the foc'sle with an empty coke can and do the stuff right there in the open.

  8. After a gun shoot a few would run down to the main deck and go through the fan rooms. From what I hears the gun shoot would knock all the stashed weed out of hiding and it was finders keepers.

  9. Remember back in '74 on the Silly Willy (USS W.S.Sims DE-1059) a first day ICFN partook in 'smoke' break next to the Goat locker fan intake. The redneck EMC came storming out screaming, "I'm gonna catch me a Gawd damn pot smoker!!!" as he flew up the ladder ... only to find out that it was one of his own in Repair Division (and the soon after discharged EM2 that was giving the tour). No Mast, but the ICFN retired the same rank after four and the door because of it. Poor old Guppy (the ICFN's nickname) remembers to this day that whole episode ... that we ask him about that sea story at every ship reunion. LMFAO