Sea Stories
images/ss_crewsmess/crewsmess_01.jpg
Home Address T.S. Eliot Quote - Going too far Brotherhood Religion Churchhill Pirates

This is a no s___ter (Navy speak for this really happened) and as I remember it.

I was the off-going TMOW (Torpedoman of the Watch). It was deep in the middle of the night after mid-rats was cleaned up and the movie probably didn’t interest me at the time.

Being qualified in pretty much everything it was easy to get bored underway. I would usually find myself hanging out in control with the QMOW (Quartermaster of the Watch), often Tom ‘Spot’ Johnson, or in the Equipment Space aft of Radio conversing with the RMOW (Radioman of the Watch), usually David ‘Harry’ Harrison. These two gents were also my roommates in the barracks when in port in San Diego.

Tonight found me hanging in Control and so I had to be either visiting ‘Spot’ or studying to qualify as COW (Chief of the Watch).

As a TM2 I thought it was ridiculous to have to qualify COW as we would never get to stand the watch, so most likely I was hanging out with Tom. The COB (Chief of the Boat) was Master Chief Clyde Zortman and he was currently the DOOW (Diving Officer of the Watch).

Master Chief Zortman was the senior enlisted man on the boat and one of those guys who knew what you needed. If you needed a kick in the pants, he would deliver it. If you needed a confidant, he was the guy; a rare combination of hard-ass and best friend rolled up into one.

Now, I’m writing this for both fellow submariners and the general uninitiated so I’m going into more depth than any of us ‘bubbleheads’ need, hopefully enough for some of the more general population. I’ll do my best to stray into both lanes to make it enjoyable.

Anyway, the DOOW sits behind the two guys driving the boat (Helmsman/Planesman). These guys sit on watch for an hour at one station, then rotate to the next, and interchange with a 3rd guy who is the duty Messenger. I am pretty sure the Messenger during this event was SN Gannon. Other parties in the vicinity are the COW (Chief of the watch) the FTOW (Fire Control Technician of the Watch) and the OOD (Officer of the Deck). I’m not sure of any other parties but I think the OOD was either LT Dreher or LT Reed or maybe LT Ahumada. How’s that for memory?

Ok, as I’m hanging out in Control, the phone rings and the Messenger, SN Gannon, picks up the phone. It’s the middle of the night and the cook, MSSN Richard Toby, I believe, wants to ask the DOOW about anticipated depth changes.

Gannon says, “COB, Toby wants to know if we are going to be doing any angles.”

“Why does he want to know?” the COB responds.

Gannon on the phone, “COB wants to know why you want to know,” he asks Toby.

Listening for a moment, “COB, he says he is putting cakes in the oven,” Gannon reports.

“Tell Toby we have orders for straight and level,” replies the COB.

Gannon relays the message and hangs up the phone.

Control is very quiet. Everyone, including the QMOW, FTOW, OOD, Helmsman/Planesman and the Messenger (oh, and moi, the off going TMOW) are all looking at COB.

Waiting…waiting.

The COB just sits there staring into space with his a cigar. He takes a puff.

Waiting.

The COB takes another puff.

Then another.

Waiting. For what seems like a long stretch of time.

Finally the COB speaks.

“Messenger?”

“Yeah, COB?” Gannon queries.

“I need some coffee.”

“Sure thing, COB,” and heads out of Control.

“Messenger?” the COB asks, before Gannon disappears.

“Yeah, COB?”

“Don’t come back until the cakes are in the oven.”

Some time goes by, and eventually the Messenger comes back with the coffee and says, “Here is your coffee COB, cakes are in the oven.”

Like before, everyone is looking at COB, and the COB is looking at no one. He has that calculating stare and you know he has done this before. Excitement is in the air and everyone, I mean everyone, knows what is coming next. Control almost vibrates with anticipation and in the absolute quiet nobody says a thing.

And then, the COB barks.

“Down twenty!” he orders, directing the Helmsman/Planesman to dive at a 20 degree angle.

Without a second’s hesitation the planes are positioned full down and we go deep.

After a few hundred feet the COB barks again.

“Up twenty!” and the planes go to full rise. The boat rears up.

The sheer joy on everyone’s face in Control, especially the OOD’s, was priceless.

You can imagine the cook, our shipmate Toby, you remember Toby, trying to keep his balance in the kitchen while the boat alternates between down and up angles holding the hot oven door open and trying to keep two or three large sheet pans of cake batter level during all of this.

You could hear an angry scream coming from the Galley, finding it’s way up the ladder and along the passageway to where we were in Control.

After “porpoising” a few times for good measure, we finally leveled out and the ventilation system quickly delivered that distinctive “burning cake batter” smell.

The COB speaks. “Messenger?”

“Yeah, COB?”

“Ring the Crews Mess,” the COB directs, “and ask them what is burning.”

It is important to know the phone is in Crew’s Mess, not in the actual Galley, so the next message must be relayed person to person.

Gannon on the phone to the Crew’s Mess, “Ask Toby what is burning.”

There is a brief pause, and then we heard the second angry scream, all the way up here in Control.

We had the thinnest cake with the thickest frosting the next day for dessert.

2000 Characters left


REGROUPEX 20 Countdown

Fund Sailing List Research!

Help fund SSN–680.org research and recover Personnel Diaries and Quarterly Muster Reports from the National Archives, helping us in our goal to identify every sailor that sailed on the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) and add them to the Master Sailing List.

Amount

© 2020 Brad Williamson
and/or the
USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) Association
or respective image owners
 
All Rights Reserved
 
Permission is granted for not-for-profit reproduction of text and images under the condition that all attribution as to owner and source is included,
and additionally, when republished electronically, a link to is provided.

U.S. Naval Institute News

  • Navy MH-60S Helicopter Crashes in the Philippine Sea off Okinawa, Crew Rescued
    Five sailors are in stable condition following the crash of their MH-60S helicopter in the Philippine Sea, U.S. 7th Fleet said on Saturday. The MH-60S was operating from 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) when it went down about 5:15 p.m. local time, read a statement from the Navy. “Three aircrew were recovered […]
  • DoD Stays Quiet About FY 2021 Funding For Expanding Navy Fleet
    THE PENTAGON — Defense Department leadership is staying mum about whether they think the Pentagon will get enough money to build and sustain a 355-ship Navy while top Navy and Army leaders argue over their share of the budget. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his staff are in the midst of a review of […]
  • Naval Community College Kicks Off January 2021 With IT, Engineering Majors
    TYSONS, Va. – The Navy’s community college will begin teaching its first cohort of students a year from now, with several hundred students studying engineering and information technology as a proof of concept of the value of providing technical education to enlisted sailors and Marines and civilians. John Kroger, the Navy’s first-ever chief learning officer, […]
REGISTRATION