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Jan 14, 2009, 10:22 AM
Registered User

Sea Stories

My Name is Foo and I am a USN vet and have always enjoyed telling "sea stories" (tales about the Navy during my time and others from friends and history). So I thought I would start a thread for telling them. Please note that when I say sea story it does not necessarily have to be a full scale sea story.
I had a Chief Petty Officer (CPO one of the senior enlisted personnel in the Navy) once tell me that the definition of a good sea story is; 20% fact 20% fiction and 60% balls to tell lies like that! I would appreciate it if the language could be held back a little to prevent the thread from offending someone and being deleted, but I am sure there will a few terms that will push it a little (very little!)
Remember the definition of 'sea story' and within those limits anything can be a sea story!
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Jan 14, 2009, 10:26 AM
Registered User
I'll post the first one hope you'all enjoy them;
Back in the old 'War on Drugs' days any time a USN ship would go into the Caribbean you would end up supporting the puddle pirates (Coast Guard) when they did drug interdiction. We had a CG detachment aboard (an older Chief Warrant Officer and four or five other guys with a RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat) zodiac). We got the word that a Navy P-3 Orion had caught a large Panamanian tuna boat on LLTV (Low Light TeleVision) pushing large bales of grass (marijuana) overboard off the coast of Texas for the go-fasts (cigarette type ocean racing boats). We were tasked with intercepting the clipper on the high seas and since we were beyond the13 mile limit were forced to ask permission to board. Since it was dark and we were not a Coast Guard ship we were 'blacked out' the only white lights were showing topside was a spotlight illuminating the Ensign and Coast Guard flag. When the Coast Guard guys boarded the other ship they were confronted by people with shotguns. The skipper had quietly called away our 'boarding parties' (12 M-14 rifles, 4 M-60 machine guns, and the normal pair of .50 caliber machine guns all behind a sand bag or two each). The skipper called down to the engine room "when I tell you to light us up like the love boat" (turn on all the white lights topside). He gave the word and on went the lights, the Panamanians were confronted by a fully armed USN guided missile destroyer (with a pair of 5-inch guns capable of 42 71 pound shells a minute). The skipper gets the mike the the 1-MC (PA system) and says "Hi there! This is the United States Navy ship number 5 (you never give your name just the hull number). You told the Coast Guard that they could come aboard and 'inspect' your vessel let them do it! We can put a ton and a half of steel on target in less than a minute at this range and guess who the target is?" After about ten seconds a shotgun flew overboard from the Panamanians, and they surrendered and let the puddle pirates do their thing, when they got done they had found over 3,000 pounds of marijuana and something 400 pounds of coke. When asked where it was all going they replied that it was for recreational use! Must have been one hell of a party where-ever they were going!
Jan 14, 2009, 10:57 AM
CG Bob's Avatar
What's the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story?

A fairy tale starts with the words "Once upon a time..."

A sea story usually starts out with the words "This is a no $hitter..."

Back in 1982, I was a DC1 assigned to CGC CONFIDENCE, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. We were about 3 days into a fisheries patrol along the Aleutian Islands (think of Dangerous Catch). I was in the lounge reading a model airplane magazine, back then most of them had a boat column. A new Fireman Apprentice (new kid in the engine room) comes into the lounge and asks if I seen prop wash. I told him that I thought we were out of the stuff, but I ripped a page out of my magazine and gave it to him. It was a full page ad for an aerosol can containing Prop Wah - used to remove oily residue from your airplane cowl. About 5 minutes later, the 1MC (general announcing circuit) makes the following announcement, "Now, DC1 G-- report to Main Control." I go to Main Control, and the MKC is holding the Prop Wash ad, and laughing. He asks me where I got the ad from, and I tell him. We almost had the Engineer Officer convinced we needed to buy some.

Sending the new kid out for prop wash is one of those useless missions aboard ship; but the Chief never expected the kid to return with some prop wash, even if it was a magazine ad.
Jan 14, 2009, 03:09 PM
Naval gazing
Found a funny one most of ten years ago. My apologies to the US Navy:

(I dont think this link works anymore but I'll post it for thoroughness anyhow):

Transcribed by Jerry Proc
(From an 1993 article by Kit Bonner of the Sacramento Bee)
From November 1943, until her demise in June 1945, the American destroyer 'William D Porter' was often hailed - whenever she entered port or joined other Naval ships - with the greetings: 'Don't shoot, we're Republicans!'. For a half a century , the US Navy kept a lid on the details of the incident that prompted this salutation. A Miami news reporter made the first public disclosure in 1958 after he stumbled upon the truth wile covering a reunion of the destroyer's crew. The Pentagon reluctantly and tersely confirmed his story, but only a smattering of newspapers took notice. Fifty years ago today, the Willie D as the Porter was nicknamed, accidentally fired a live torpedo at the battleship Iowa during a practice exercise. As if this wern't bad enough, the Iowa was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the time, along with Secretary of State, Cordell Hull and all of the country's WWII military brass. They were headed for the Big Three Conference in Tehran, where Roosevelt was to meet Stalin and Churchill. Had the Porter's torpedo struck the Iowa at the aiming pointy, the last 50 years of world history might have been quite different.
The USS William D Porter (DD-579) was one of hundreds of assembly line destroyers build during the war. They mounted several heavy and light guns but their main armament consisted of 10 fast- running and accurate torpedoes that carried 500 pound warheads. This destroyer was placed in commission on July 1943 under the command of Wilfred Walker, a man on the Navy's fast career track. In the months before she was detailed to accompany the Iowa across the Atlantic in November 1943, the Porter and her crew learned their trade, experiencing the normal problems that always beset a new ship and a novice crew. The mishaps grew more serious when she became an escort for the pride of the fleet, the big new battleship Iowa.
The night before they left Norfolk, bound for North Africa, the Porter accidentally damaged a nearby sister ship when she backed down along the other ship's side and her anchor tore down her railings, life rafts, ship's boat and various other formerly valuable pieces of equipment. The Willie D merely had a scraped anchor, but her career of mayhem and mishaps had begun. Just twenty four hours later, the four ship convoy consisting of Iowa and her secret passengers and two other destroyers was under strict instructions to maintain complete radio silence. As they were going through a known U-boat feeding ground, speed and silence were the best defence. Suddenly a tremendous explosion rocked the convoy. All of the ships commenced anti-submarine manoeuvres. This continued until the Porter sheepishly admitted that one of her depth charges had fallen off her stern and exploded. The 'safety' had not been set as instructed. Captain Walker was watching his fast track career become side-tracked. Shortly thereafter, a freak wave inundated the ship, stripping away everything that wasn't lashed down, and a man was washed overboard and never found. Next, the fire room lost power in one of its boilers. The Captain, by this point, was making reports almost hourly to the Iowa on the Willie D's difficulties. It would have been merciful if the force commander had detached the hard luck ship and sent her back to Norfolk. But no, she sailed on.
The morning of 14 November 1943 dawned with a moderate sea and pleasant weather. The Iowa and her escorts were just east of Bermuda, and the president and his guests wanted to see how the big ship could defend herself against an air attack. So, Iowa launched a number of weather balloons to use as anti-aircraft targets. It was exciting to see more than 100 guns shooting at the balloons, and the President was proud of his Navy. Just as proud was Admiral Ernest J King, the Chief of Naval Operations; large in size and by demeanour, a true monarch of the sea. Disagreeing with him meant the end of a naval career. Up to this time, no one knew what firing a torpedo at him would mean. Over on the Willie D, Captain Walker watched the fireworks display with admiration and envy. Thinking about career redemption and breaking the hard luck spell, the Captain sent his impatient crew to battle stations. They began to shoot down the balloons the Iowa had missed as they drifted into the Porter's vicinity.
Down on the torpedo mounts, the crew watched, waiting to take some practice shots of their own on the big battleship, which, even though 6000 yards away, seemed to blot out the horizon. Lawton Dawson and Tony Fazio were among those responsible for the torpedoes. Part of their job involved ensuring that the primers were installed during actual combat and removed during practice. Once a primer was installed, on a command to fire, it would explode shooting the torpedo out of its tube. Dawson, on this particular morning, unfortunately had forgotten to remove the primer from torpedo tube #3. Up on the bridge, a new torpedo officer, unaware of the danger, ordered a simulated firing. Fire 1, Fire 2 and finally Fire 3. There was no fire 4 as the sequence was interrupted by an unmistakable 'whooooooshhhhing' sound made by a successfully launched and armed torpedo. Lt H Steward Lewis, who witnessed the entire event, later described the next few minutes as what hell would look like if it ever broke loose.
Just after he saw the torpedo hit water, on its way to the Iowa and some of the most prominent figures in world history, Lewis innocently asked the Captain, 'Did you give permission to fire a torpedo?' Captain Walker's reply will not ring down through naval history.. although words to the effect of Farragut's immortal 'Damn the torpedoes' figured centrally within.Initially there was some reluctance to admit what had happened or even to warn the Iowa. As the awful reality sunk in, people began racing around, shouting conflicting instructions and attempting to warn the flagship of imminent danger. First, there was a flashing light warning about the torpedo which unfortunately indicated it was headed in another direction. Next, the Porter signalled that it was going reverse at full speed! Finally, they decided to break the strictly enforced radio silence. The radio operator on the destroyer transmitted 'Lion (code for the Iowa), Lion, come right. The Iowa operator, more concerned about radio procedure, requested that the offending station identify itself first. Finally, the message was received and the Iowa began turning to avoid the speeding torpedo.

Meanwhile, on the Iowa's bridge, word of the torpedo firing had reached FDR, who asked that his wheelchair be moved to the railing so he could see better what was coming his way. His loyal Secret Service guard immediately drew his pistol as if he was going to shoot the torpedo. As the Iowa began evasive manoeuvres, all of her guns were trained on the William D Porter. There was now some thought that the Porter was part of an assassination plot. Within moments of the warning, there was a tremendous explosion just behind the battleship. The torpedo had been detonated by the wash kicked up by the battleship's increased speed. The crisis was over and so was Captain Walker's career. His final utterance to the Iowa, in response to a question about the origin of the torpedo, was a weak, 'We did it'. Shortly thereafter, the brand new destroyer, her Captain and the entire crew were placed under arrest and sent to Bermuda for trial. It was the first time that a complete ship's company had been arrested in the history of the US Navy. The ship was surrounded by Marines when it docked in Bermuda, and held there several days as the closed session inquiry attempted to determine what had happened. Torpedoman Dawson eventually confesses to having inadvertently left the primer in the torpedo tube, which caused the launching. Dawson had thrown the used primer over the side to conceal his mistake.
The whole incident was chalked up to an unfortunate set of circumstances and placed under a cloak of secrecy. Someone had to be punished. Captain Walker and several other Porter officers and sailors eventually found themselves in obscure shore assignments. Dawson was sentenced to 14 years hard labour. President Roosevelt intervened; however, asking that no punishment be metered out for what was clearly an accident. The destroyer was banished to the upper Aleutians. It was probably thought this was as safe a place as any for the ship and anyone who came near her. She remained in the frozen north for almost a year, until late 1944, when she was re-assigned to the Western Pacific. Before leaving the Aleutians, she accidentally left her calling card in the form of a five inch shell fired into the front yard of the American base commandant, thus rearranging his flower garden. In December 1944, she joined the Philippine invasion forces and acquitted herself quite well. She distinguished herself by shooting down a number of attacking Japanese aircraft. Regrettably, after the war, it was reported that she also shot down three American planes. This was a common event on ships, as many gunners, fearful of kamikazes, had nervous trigger fingers.
In April 1945, the destroyer was assigned to support the invasion of Okinawa. By this time, the greeting "Don't Shoot, We're Republicans" was commonplace and the crew of the Willie D had become used to the ribbing. But the crew of her sister ship, the USS Luce, was not so polite in its salutations after the Porter accidentally riddled her side and superstructure with gunfire. On 10 June 1945, the Porter's hard luck finally ran out. She was sunk by a plane which had (unintentionally) attacked underwater. A Japanese bomber almost made entirely of wood and canvas slipped through the Navy's defence. Having little in the way of metal surfaces, the plane didn't register on radar. A fully loaded kamikaze, it was headed for a ship near the Porter, but just at the last moment veered away and crashed along side the unlucky destroyer. There was a sigh of relief as the plane sunk out of site, but then it blew up underneath the Porter, opening her hull in the worst possible location.
Three hours later, after the last man was off board, the Captain jumped to the safety of a rescue vessel and the ship that almost changed world history slipped astern into 2400 feet of water. Not a single soul was lost in the sinking. After everything else that happened, it was almost as if the ship decided to let her crew off at the end.
Jan 14, 2009, 04:00 PM
Registered User
windwarrior6682's Avatar
I always enjoyed sending the tenderfoots out to get some dehydrated water tablets. You know the ones, just added water. Or sending the tenderfoot to look for a left handed smoke shifter to keep the smoke from the stack off of you while soaking in the sun while on deck. Or tell the cook to use the bacon stretcher so the bacon wont get wrinkle while cooking. And if the cook asks where to find the bacon stretcher, simple tell him it's in the pantry to the left of the stove in Davy Jones locker.
Last edited by windwarrior6682; Jan 14, 2009 at 04:20 PM.
Jan 14, 2009, 04:12 PM
Capt.Crash's Avatar
That William D Porter story is unreal!

We had several favorites...relative bearing grease, 50ft of chow line, the golden rivet, and overhead buffer, but my favorite was when the Captain would set the "Mail Buoy Watch" over the 1-MC for the new sailor making him wear a helmet, life jacket and carry the mail buoy hook while stationed up forward so the bridge had a clear view...
Jan 14, 2009, 04:35 PM
Retired for now
Can't hardly blame the Porter for all those mistakes. She just had more than the normal compliment of crazies. Shot up her sister ship? Sure the Porter did it. Ha!
Good story there and probably way more than 20% truth. Pete
Jan 14, 2009, 05:10 PM
Registered User
tghsmith's Avatar
we use to send the boots out on B one R D watch... or wait till the first time they were underway and hand them the phone telling them they have a call from their mother...I did hear of a boot sent out to get ten feet of chow line, he came back with five other sailors and asked where do you want it!!!
Jan 14, 2009, 06:39 PM
Registered User
steveciambrone's Avatar
Originally Posted by Hoghappy
That William D Porter story is unreal!
but my favorite was when the Captain would set the "Mail Buoy Watch" over the 1-MC for the new sailor making him wear a helmet, life jacket and carry the mail buoy hook while stationed up forward so the bridge had a clear view...
We did the Mail Buoy watch on the Submarine also, but the young Seaman or Ensign seemed very terrified when we told them that we would not surface to get it.

Jan 14, 2009, 07:11 PM
Naval gazing
Originally Posted by steveciambrone
We did the Mail Buoy watch on the Submarine also, but the young Seaman or Ensign seemed very terrified when we told them that we would not surface to get it.

Jan 14, 2009, 10:53 PM
Registered User
used to love when we would get the middies (Naval and NROTC midshipman) and have them go get us 50 feet of centerline! Another favorite (depending on your individual level of sadism) was to send the middie down to a machinery space (all Machinist Mates (MM's) and have them get a BT punch 12. The MM's would punch the middie in the arm 12 times and say 'oops this is a MM punch, you need a BT punch! and then send them down to one of the boiler rooms. Getting a bucket of magnetic bearing grease was another favorite.
The penultimate for us on my first ship (the DDG) was when the skipper's god daughter was aboard for her middie cruise with her room-mate (this was the 80's and women weren't normally allowed aboard combatant ships and he pulled lots of strings to get them aboard). One of the junior officers told her casually that the CO was less than loved and that all the zero's (Officers) would be watching his back. The skipper had demanded that all the middies learn about each department and her turn was in the gunnery dept.. They were teaching her about being the gun captain and were doing t-checks (transmission checks to verify that the gun mount could move as needed) with her in the gun captain's station (the gun houses were manned then). The gunners let her move the mount under her (local) control, then inconspicuously changed the mount to remote control from the carrier (gun machinery) room, they then trained the mount up the bridge wing where the CO was catching a nooner in his bridge wing chair, furthering her panic they flipped on the shell hoists causing her to think that they were loading the gun preparing to assassinate the Captain. The female jumped from the mount, screaming, scaled the O-1 deck and was trying to clamber up the side of the bridge wing when her screaming finally awoke her god father. It took a couple of seconds and then realized what about half his crew had done to the poor woman, and about died laughing. When she finally left he did jump a few selected butts about it, but by then we had all had more than a few laughs about it!
Jan 15, 2009, 12:16 AM
It bwas not Navy nor Coast Guard. It was Air Force basic training in August 1966.

It was a hot Sunday evening in San Antonio Texas when Training Instructor Tech. Sgt. Blood lead two fights of basic trainees to the mess hall for their dinner meal. (As soon as the basics were fed and returned to the baracks, he was free to leave. Thus, he had an incentive to get this over with as saoon as possible.)

Now Sgt. Blood was tall and lean with a tanned leathery face and a parade ground voice. He did not hesite to use his name to intimidate new basic trainees.

For one reason or another, it seemed that we were one of the last flights to arrive at the mess hall. Sgt. Blood was p , or so it seemed.

He paced back and forth and suddenly stopped, as if recalling a forgotten memory. He turned and said in his pparade ground voice: "Petrowitz, front and center". Airman basic Petrowitz snaped to attention and replied: "YES SARGENT" and paraded up to sargent Blood.

Now Petrowitz was a short, dumpy 5'7" guy in Air Force basic fatigues standing inches from 6' 3" Sgt. Blood in his immaculately starched training instructors uniform. And Sgt. Blood said to him: "Petrowitz, I understand that you are a champion hog caller."

Petrowitz replied: "Yes sargent, I placed second in the nationals last year".
"Well then" said the sargent, "I want you to call me a hog!"

Petrowitz was standing there no more than 4 inches from Sgt. Bloods chest. Without looking left or right, Petrowitz bellowed out in a manor of a champion hog caller: "YOU'R A HOG SARGENT"

Even Sgt Blood lost it!

There is another story about Sgt. Blood but that is for later.
Jan 15, 2009, 01:11 AM
Registered User

rules for working (on anything no matter what scale)

True story but sound like a sea story;
I am a carpenter by trade; the first day I ever worked (I was working under the table @ 14 years old) the guy running the crew taught me the three rules for dealing anything mechanical on a job site (he pointed this out with four fingers on his left hand):
1) don't hit the pink things (fingers)
2) Don't cut the pink things.
3) Always make sure to go home at the end of the day with same number of pink things as you started the day with.

Seems like pretty common sense but if you think about them and follow them! it definitely makes life a lot easier (not to mention a lot less painful) I temporarily forgot rules 2 and 3 and tried to remove my right forefinger with a Skillsaw, just before Christmas 2007. Ironically the boss and I has just had a discussion about his workman's comp insurance had lapsed and he had no coverage until after Christmas. Fortunately some good bandages for a week or so and new glove (thank goodness for cold Idaho winters, I was wearing them) and I was fine. Got a good notch in the finger to remind me of the rules though........
I have worked on any number of different jobs over the years and if you follow the rules it works!
Last edited by fooman2008; Jan 15, 2009 at 01:20 AM. Reason: highlighting enhance the points
Jan 15, 2009, 08:12 AM
Registered User
tghsmith's Avatar
you always had to be careful, I new a Seaman that was picked on and ridden by a BM1 for no just reason(beyond the normal, the BM1 was a jerk)time passed, the seaman went off to yeoman school, the BM1 made chief. I got a call late one night while on watch, it was the seaman telling me he passed school and was at his new billet, then he said " I'm holding that *%##< payrecord in my hands "
Jan 15, 2009, 08:48 AM
Registered User
always wondered how some of the paper shufflers resisted temptations like that!