An ol’ Crackerjack’s recollection begins to run aground after so many years! I contemplated with much thought and figured I should know the instance quite clearly, but the edges went dull and I don’t always nail it down as well as I used too!! I should have written this down many years ago… but thanks to a few shipmates, I was able to put some pieces together!!!
As I ring the bell to this little 'yarn' I don't pretend to be totally accurate! It’s an accumulation of thoughts from a fuzzy ol’ analog brain with that rolodex style hard drive… pages all fuzzy and run together from copious amounts of alcohol poured together over the years!! Without the benefit of official transcripts on said event, I made an effort to be reasonably truthful… So buckle up and bear with me!!!
The USS Rainier, Lucky N°7, was a brand new sea going vessel! As opposed to anything most of us formerly grew up on, she was like one of those Norwegian Cruise Liners with the ‘All you can Eat’ buffets, mints on your pillow with dozens of little perky busted twenty somethings running around like some kind of seagoing Mardi Gras!! It had the potential for fan room pandemonium if you know what I mean!! It sure beat the Vienna Sausage Luaus we used to call Steel Beach Picnics!!!
Point being, it was a new time in the Navy with wimmins and stuff… and the Inspections were no different! I call them inspections, but they were now referred to as Assessments!! What’s the difference you ask?!? I remember Chief Lyell telling me…
“Well, it’s this new thing called Political Correctness! It’s part of this new ‘Kinder & Gentler’ Navy we’re trying to breed!”
“Well what is this Political Correctness you speak of Chief?”
“Well, it’s like our Navy is going through some sort of Homosexual Conversion!”
I suppose ‘Assessments’ sounded a bit less terrifying than ‘Inspections’!!!
As a new ship, there was a lot we had to prove upon commissioning! Acceptance Trials, Light Off Examinations, INSURV and all sorts of stuff, we had to get through just to make it to homeport!! That’s a lot of wading knee deep in fire hoses, OBAs & hot sweaty ass ensembles doing hours of drills and upkeep!! Nevertheless, the crew kind of felt like it earned its due!!!
Now after a short dry dock and gett’n the Government’s hard earned shipalts & conversions, that’s Navy talk for gett’n spade & neutered… out of the way, we were ready for workups! Now workups prior to deployment have been around for ages… but they didn’t go unscathed… as those REFTRA Inspections turned into CART, TSTA, & FEP Assessments!! They devolved into some kinda rub-a-dub-dub fill me with love graduation handshakes & back messages… with backdoor deals being made with the Commodore and such!!!
We were on station, somewhere in the Straits of Juan de Fuca off the northern coast of Washington State! It was sort of cold that time of the year cutting circles in the water!! We were doing one concentric circle after another in an invisible ‘OP’ Box with nothing much to see but mountain tops and small swells… and an occasional whale!! The reason for these concise circles in a Box was the onboard ‘TSTA’ with the Afloat Training Group!!!
Now I don’t rightfully know the full story, and I didn’t happen to be a fly on the wall when it all came about… but we had a good crew doing its level best to keep us going in the right direction! The monotony of drill after drill try’n to please these ATG fellas was getting tiresome as it became the same shit different day routine!! So needless to say it was insult to injury when those sons-a-bitches weren’t giving us the benefit of the doubt!!!
I did a lot of years in the ol’ Canoe Club and one thing that always amazed me was the three ways of gett’n things done… the wrong way, the right way, and the Navy way… circles in a box, square pegs & round holes… did you see what I did there?!? Never mind…!! We’d been told time and again even by the same ATG prior to commissioning how we were doing it all the right way… but apparently it wasn’t the Navy way… Nope!!!
Then somewhere between the last Main Space Fire Drill and the word getting passed to put the RHIB in the water, our Skipper, ol’ T.P. Danaher, had a word or two with those ATG fellas! You could see his face was red and veins were sticking out his neck!!
"Those miserable, good-for-noth’n sons-a-bitches!"
"The hell with them! Put the boat in the water!! They can ferry home!"
… and like a set of neutered hamsters, they weren’t going to complain until they got ashore! Now anyone who has been to the Northwest knows it’s a good hour drive from Port Townsend to PSNS Bremerton!! That’s after the one hour wait for the ride to get there!!!
I remember one of the Chiefs in combat saying…
“Those ATG pansies are noth’n but a bunch of Soprano squelching Eunuchs!”
Most of us recognized it was horse shit! But we couldn't help noticing it was just a sign of the times!! From there we could see the handwriting on the wall once the Skipper kicked those fellas off the ship… this was not going to end well for us!!!
At morning quarters, the entire wardroom seemed at aaah from the Skipper’s challenge to ATG and by proxy the Commodore! Like Ricky Ricardo used to say…
“Lucy!!! You got some splain’n to do!”
One of the radio guys mention that a message went out…
“The Captain asked us to relay his abhorrence and rancor to the assessors involved if we happened to meet them again!”
I can neither confirm nor deny such tomfoolery, but truth be told … I think the ol’ Skipper and reality had filed for divorce on that one!!!
I figure somewhere along the line they had a 0200 hour meeting in the Weirdroom on Rainier Foreign Policy with the new and mutated Afloat Training Group so that we could better Gundeck our situation and keep in good spirits with the one and only Lord & Savior ‘King Neptune’ himself and of course Davey Jones and his merry band of ATG idiots!!!
This Ol’ Canoe Club sure has evolved over the years… I suppose some for the better and some for the worst! It’s all in perspective I suppose!! Now they insist on a crew of highly trained, extremely smart folks who conduct themselves in a mature manner… I still say behind closed doors that’s damned near impossible but what the hell do I know!!!
And somewhere along the way our old defiant ways got replaced with the more ‘Kindler & Gentler’ Navy crap Chief Lyell was tell’n me about all those years ago! I guess we all knew it was coming… slowly chipping away… you didn’t have to be Dick Tracy to figure it out!! You know we gotta keep the politically correct rubes gurgling with delight!!!
… Just another day at work for Forces Adrift I always say …