Sea Story Break!

January 8th, 2009

If you’ve read my backgrounder, you know I am a former Naval Officer and US Naval Academy grad. That job has a number of perks, one of which is a healthy appreciation for the humor of the men and women in uniform. Under the Sea Stories category, over time, I’ll write a series of short stories about my Navy experience and life in general. Just fun stuff, and a break from work.

This is a story about one of my better screw ups…

Just remember that the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story is that a fairy tale starts with “once upon a time”, and a sea story starts with, “hey man, no sh-t!”.

So there I was. All set to go out on a Friday night. The ship had just pulled into its berth in San Diego; we were shutting down the plant for the weekend. Had to be back underway on Monday. The shorter the break, the more important the weekend.

The week before, the local repair guys, called SIMA back then, had made a repair on 1B main feed pump’s discharge piping. It’s tough duty, about 250 degree water under 900 psi pressure. Well, that weld broke. Just as we shut down.

It was my job to arrange to have it fixed over the weekend. So much for Friday night. I was P.O.’d in a big way. So I wrote two work requests. One to fix the pump, one for my own gratification. Work requests are written in a specific format:

“Here’s what happened” XXX “Here’s what I want you to do.”

The real request was pretty mundane. But not knowing when to leave well enough alone, I wrote a second, private, not intended for anyone’s eyes, work request. My “private” request was:

“A weld you incompetent assholes made broke XXX Request you send a different incompetent asshole down here to fix the son-of-a-bitch. If you can’t do that by Monday morning, I’m personally going to come down there and kick some ass.”

I’ll give you three guesses which work request actually made it to the Fleet Maintenance Center…

I still don’t know how it happened. Doesn’t matter now. Didn’t then either. I got a real good butt chewing from the Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) that ran the place. I got another one from our ship’s XO, and another one for good measure from the C.O. But dammit, they fixed the pump by Monday!!

There’s another part to this story too. About 2 years later, I’m getting out of the Navy. That LCDR was still there. By now we had become friends. Basically, I learned how to work the system quite well, helped improve it somewhat, especially on the computer side, and generally got a real good reputation on the waterfront. I could get things done. I was also running the only overhaul in San Diego that was on time and under budget.

But now it’s time to leave. I walk in to say good-bye to the good LCDR. I don’t have an appointment. He’s in the midst of chewing out an Ensign for his poorly written work requests, explaining how the system works, and impressing upon him the need to give the proper information in these requests. In the middle of this chew out, he opens his left breast pocket, hands a folded up piece of paper to this kid, and says, “Now THIS is how you write a work request.”

Give you three more guesses which work request it was.

Entry Filed under: Sea Stories

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