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About Gunboat1

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    Senior Member


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    Tennessee! Freedom lives here.


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    Shooting, sailing, kayaking, cycling, reloading, debunking liberalism


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  1. God bless and keep Bill, you, and your family. Sincere condolences. R.I.P.
  2. Exactly my feelings. Just do your dang job, and expect everyone else to do theirs. All would be much better. The more I know people, the more I love my cat.
  3. I remember his excellent stories very well. Best wishes to you both. Prayers being sent as well.
  4. Sea Stories: Murder Aboard Ship Like any other group of people, Navy sailors are a cross section of our society. And occasionally, people do horrific things to each other. It is our nature as a species, and we all would do well to remember it. Never underestimate the capacity of your fellow man for depraved violent behavior. As someone wisely once said: “Be nice to everyone you meet. But have a backup plan to kill them if things don’t go well.” These are words to live by. I am aware of at least two documented murders which took place aboard Navy ships in the 1980s. There were several other “suicides” by jumping overboard at night in cold waters which may or may not have actually been murders, but “dead men tell no tales” and the bodies were never recovered. One of these murders took place aboard a Spruance-class destroyer, in port. It was late evening, after a cash payday aboard the ship. The Disbursing Officer was working late in his office, balancing his accounting books and counting the leftover cash prior to returning it to the bank the next day. The Sounding and Security watch reported to the quarterdeck that they had found the Disbursing Office open, with the safe open and the Disbursing Officer nowhere to be found. After attempts to locate the officer failed, it began to look like he might have absconded with the money. But his car was still in the parking lot near the pier. A search of the ship discovered the officer’s body, shot to death in a closed fan room in the after part of the ship. Not long after, an observant bank officer was auditing the contents of safe deposit boxes in the care of his bank, and noticed that numerous blank US Government checks were stored in one box. He called the authorities, and an investigation showed that these checks’ serial numbers had been assigned to the ship in question. They had been stolen from the safe during the robbery. The holder of the safe deposit box was a petty officer assigned to the ship. He eventually admitted to having brought a personally owned firearm aboard, and having used it to take the Disbursing Officer at gunpoint, order him into the fan room, and then to execute him there. The other case was even more senseless. A classmate of mine was directly involved, and was best friends with the victim. His ship, an aging steam-powered Guided Missile Destroyer, was operating at sea. One of the Engineering Department’s junior enlisted sailors, a young African American, was not performing well, and the Chief Engineer (who was White), as his department head, had informed him that he would not be recommended for advancement in the upcoming examination cycle. The sailor took exception to this and claimed that this was evidence of racial discrimination against him. He concealed a Kabar combat knife in his coveralls, and found the Chief Engineer in the stifling and noisy Forward Fireroom, alone in a firing alley between two operating boilers. He stabbed the officer in the chest and left him to die. The Chief Engineer was able to crawl to an escape trunk and make his way up a vertical ladder, through an escape hatch and onto the main deck of the ship. He was seen there and several sailors responded to try and save him. He bled to death on deck in my classmate’s arms, but only after gasping out the name of his murderer. A subsequent search of the killer’s locker found the bloody knife, wrapped in his bloodstained coveralls. It pays to remain aware at all times.
  5. Sea Stories: The Sonobuoy One of my collateral duties as a junior officer on my first ship was to be its Intelligence Officer. I was put in custody of a bunch of classified publications, and tasked to remain up to date with the tactical threat situation in the ship’s area of operations, while providing a daily briefing on these matters to the Captain. I was also supposed to keep my eyes open for opportunities to submit Intelligence Information Reports (IIRs) on anything that might be of interest to the Naval Intelligence community. I was pretty busy, so this particular set of duties got relatively little of my attention. One day in 1985, we were deployed to the Indian Ocean as part of a carrier battle group. The Russian Navy decided to come have a look at us, and sent an IL-38 “May” anti-submarine surveillance aircraft to fly and snoop around. Airplanes can and do hunt for submerged submarines. Among the tools used to do this are disposable sensors called sonobuoys. A sonobuoy is a miniature sonar system. It is dropped into the ocean, and the upper part floats there. It then deploys a microphone on a wire deep into the water, where it either listens quietly, or transmits sound pulses and listens for return echoes. A radio system sends the information it hears back to the aircraft, which displays and uses it to try and locate the submarine, and if possible, to identify what type of boat it is. Anti-submarine aircraft carry dozens of these buoys and deploy them in search patterns. This Russian IL-38 apparently wanted to take a peek and see if perhaps our battle group had an attack submarine supporting it, so it deployed several sonobuoys around us, and eventually flew back to its airfield. Some hours later, my ship happened to be steaming near where a fighter escort from our carrier reported that it had dropped a buoy. We diverted a little, and visually spotted the buoy! I convinced the Captain to let us recover it, so we launched a small boat and fished it back out of the water and brought it aboard. We placed it in a large barrel of fresh water to preserve it, and I took photos and sent an IIR to the Fleet Intelligence Center, Pacific (FICPAC) in Pearl Harbor. I thought that would be the end of it. But FICPAC got excited! They had previously recovered old, badly corroded examples of this type of buoy which had washed up on beaches, but never one that was still in fresh, operable condition. They sent an enlisted Intelligence Specialist from the carrier over to us by helicopter, and he took the buoy back with him. It was flown back to Pearl, and I gather it was dissected to determine its construction and likely capabilities. My ship got a nice “attaboy” commendation for providing it. Sometimes even floating trash is valuable.
  6. Sea Stories: The Loss of Sundowner 201 Naval service is inherently hazardous. Warships are complex machines with lots of moving, hot, sharp, electrically charged, explosive, radioactive or toxic things in them. And to top that off, the ocean environment will kill you given half a chance. I remember thinking about this one night on deployment to the Western Pacific. My ship was Air Defense Coordinator for a Carrier Battle Group. One of the primary weapons the Battle Group had for its defense was two squadrons of F-14 Tomcat fighters. These planes and the men who flew in them were incredibly impressive. They were formidable instruments of war, made even more deadly by an unheralded assistant, the Air Intercept Controller. Air Controllers were relatively senior enlisted Operations Specialists. They were trained and tasked to assist the air crews in finding their assigned targets in the middle of an enormous sky, and getting the plane into position to kill it if necessary. A fighter aircraft’s radar is contained in the nose of the plane, and it looks at a very limited cone of space in front of the aircraft. It is also limited in range and power. It just can’t see very much. An Air Controller, seated aboard a ship or surveillance aircraft with a much larger radar, could see the enemy further away, and could calculate what heading and speed the fighter needed to use to make a successful intercept of the target, given its own heading and speed. The Controller would then verbally and electronically give the pilot heading and speed vectors to make intercept. Controllers were issued individual radio call signs and talked directly to the pilots. It was a close and successful partnership. (The best controller I ever knew was an E-6 Operations Specialist, issued call sign “Shogun”. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and later went on to become an officer. I learned a great deal about a lot of things from this guy.) One night watch circa mid-1984, another Controller on my ship was working with an F-14 from Fighter Squadron 111, the “Sundowners”. Their aircraft wore distinctive tail markings of a setting sun, and used identifying nose numbers in the 200 series. This particular aircraft was Sundowner 201. All was normal, a simple, routine Combat Air Patrol (CAP) mission was going smoothly. Suddenly, the aircraft had an unrecoverable mechanical problem. The pilot declared a “mayday” emergency, indicating that loss of life was possible. The plane basically stopped flying, and the crew had to eject into the Pacific Ocean before it crashed, literally a thousand miles from land. They were over a hundred miles from the nearest ship of the battle group. The Air Controller marked the last known position of the plane, reported the mayday and our ship turned towards the site at maximum speed. The carrier launched a Search and Rescue helicopter which proceeded at best speed to the crash site. Fortunately, everything worked out well this time. Neither of the aviators had been significantly injured on the ejection. The Pacific Ocean was relatively calm and relatively warm. The aircrew found each other in the water and joined up. And the Rescue Helicopter found them using the accurate position provided by the Air Controller. Both men were rescued and returned to the carrier safely. We were fortunate. But Mother Ocean never sleeps.
  7. Thanks for the kind words. I have a few more to share if people are interested.
  8. Supplies locked in a cage aren't "adrift". Neither is a mounted part, or a staged pallet of paint. A few hangings would change attitudes! LOL
  9. Sea Stories: The Supply System, or Larceny As A Way Of Life One of the aspects of my naval service which I never understood was the pervasive acceptance of the notion that if you needed something, it was okay to steal it from someone else rather than getting the Navy supply system to do its job and get it for you. Many senior leaders actively encouraged subordinates to do whatever they had to do, and to steal whatever they needed to steal for short-term gain, apparently mindless of the negative effect this had on both the system and the victims of theft. This was closely associated with the under-reporting of broken or inoperable equipment, based on the theory that if your ship’s capability was degraded by a broken system, you were somehow at fault and less successful in your command. This supposedly made you less competitive for promotion than your peers. The Navy had a system of Casualty Reports (CASREPs) which was intended to let the Chain of Command know the exact status of material readiness of your ship at any time. It is impossible for any ship to be 100% perfect at any time; there will always be some system degraded or inoperative at any given moment. Ships are incredibly complex machines. So when a major system was degraded or inoperable, you were supposed to send a CASREP to let the chain of command know. They could then make good decisions based upon your ACTUAL combat readiness, vice your cosmetic or apparent state of readiness. Perhaps they could apply pressure to get you the part or assistance you needed to fix the issue. But many CO’s were hesitant to send CASREPS, as they also had another effect; they invited senior leadership’s attention to your ship’s problem. Leadership required that you actually take action to fix it, while keeping them informed. And apparently, “the part is on order” wasn’t a good enough answer to deflect this unwanted higher command attention. Rather than making the Supply System respond in a rapid, responsive manner, they allowed it to drag its feet and to practice mediocrity in function, by circumventing it. To my way of thinking, this was counterproductive. Better by far would be to have the Chain of Command know your ACTUAL state of readiness, and apply whatever pressure was needed to make the Supply System do its job. A few examples of the “Larceny As A Way Of Life” culture I experienced: I. When I reported to my ballistic missile submarine for my 3rd Class Midshipman cruise, the boat was at sea for sea trials prior to departing on patrol. The only crew’s officer ashore was the junior Supply Officer, a Supply Corps ensign. I was assigned to accompany him as he did the last-minute things needed to get the boat underway on schedule, with all needed supplies aboard. He took me with him as he visited a large supply warehouse to retrieve ordered parts and supplies which had been recently delivered. The warehouse supported several different submarines, and each boat had a large fenced-off cage with a locked gate, to segregate items ordered by and belonging to them. The Baby Chop (Supply Officers were affectionately called “Pork Chops”, shortened to “Chop” as a nickname, as their collar insignia identifying them as a Supply Corps officer vaguely resembled a pork chop) had a clipboard with him, listing all the things which were on order but not yet delivered. He went through our mostly empty cage, looking for the items which he had dutifully color coded by priority. Lots of things were still missing. He then walked over to the cage belonging to another boat, which was at sea on patrol at the time. Their cage was full of boxes of parts and supplies which had been delivered while they were away. He whipped out a pair of bolt cutters, cut the padlock off, and went through the cage, selecting items which he determined our boat needed. I’m sure my eyes bugged out, watching him commit grand larceny. By the time he was done, many thousands of dollars of government material ordered by, delivered to, and presumably needed by another fleet unit had found a new home in our cage, and ultimately, aboard our boat. The rightful owners would just have to reorder and wait for delayed delivery when they discovered the loss. And the Supply System was not held accountable for not getting the stuff we needed delivered to us on time to support a ballistic missile deterrent patrol. I don’t think this was the most desirable outcome. II. As we were conducting an annual inventory of controlled equipage one day aboard my Guided Missile Frigate, my leading signalman came to me with an admission. We were missing a spyglass. Yes, an optical spyglass, used only for quarterdeck ceremonies these days, but very much a required inventory item. And as Operations Officer, I was responsible for it. The SM explained that one of his junior signalmen had lent the spyglass to another ship’s signal gang, when they came aboard and asked to borrow one, as they were being inspected and didn’t have theirs to show. This young SM had at least had the sense to get a hand receipt for the spyglass signed, and the borrower took the spyglass back for inspection. The problem was, after the inspection was over, they didn’t return it. They DEPLOYED TO THE WESTERN PACIFIC WITH IT. I was not amused. One day a couple of months later, we made port in Pearl Harbor, and there across the harbor was the offending ship. I made my leading signalman call over on flashing light to that ship, asking to speak to the Operations Officer by flashing light. (This is unusual.). A few minutes later, intrigued, he was standing by at their light. I then explained by Morse message that I wanted my spyglass back immediately, and that I had a signed hand receipt with the serial number and name of the borrower shown on it. A brief flurry of activity later, a profuse apology replied, and my spyglass was returned by the shamefaced SM who had “borrowed” it later that afternoon. I had only had to travel 4200 miles one-way from San Diego to get it back. III. My first CO, the legendary screamer, loved to tell junior officers that he expected them to be resourceful and to do whatever they had to do to achieve his desired degree of perfection. He regaled us repeatedly with the tale of one of his greatest triumphs as an object lesson. He had been Gunnery Officer aboard an ancient Destroyer Escort. His class of ship had a twin 3”x50 caliber gun mount on the forecastle. This type of gun had a large counter-recoil spring around the breech area of each gun barrel. One of his springs was cracked, making that gun inoperable, as it was unsafe to fire. No replacement was immediately available in the local supply center. The ship was moored in a nest of ships of the same class, with identical armament. So the Captain had his Gunners Mates sneak over the lifelines on the midwatch, quietly disassemble the gun on the outboard sister ship, and swap their sound spring with his broken one. Problem solved. It’s fortunate that no one got shot as an intruder. IV. My Operations Officer on that first ship was a disciple of the Screamer CO. He agreed with the abusive leadership style, and practiced it himself. He loved to tell his own tale of supply system derring-do. As First Lieutenant (Deck Division Officer) of a destroyer home-ported in Pearl Harbor, HI, he had run out of haze gray paint (which is the color of paint that the entire hull and superstructure is painted with. It is a daily use item. This is an unpardonable sin, on most ships.) It would take some time to order a new stock, and he would have to admit that he had neglected to keep the proper inventory. His solution? He wandered over to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard late one night, stole a forklift, and used it to steal an entire pallet of haze gray paint which was staged to paint a newly-sandblasted ship in drydock the following day. Somehow, the phrase “conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman” comes to mind.
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