Boiler Technician’s Revenge
In the U.S. Navy all who serve aboard ships, know the engineers work the hardest and keep the ship moving and supply many needed items and services. The Boiler Technicians supplied all steam for all purposes, and fresh water too for the whole ship. Among the many things, the engineers do supply by way of their steam, are heaters for all spaces on the ship, which are controlled by valves in the plant. So no matter what, a naval ship is dead in the water and cold as ice without the engineers.
One of the problems with being a Naval Engineer of any kind is, the work and long hours one must put in to be efficient at your job and maintain and operate the plant itself. Naval engineers must know how to operate each piece of equipment, how to safely shut each down, and how to save the plant and ship in a crisis or event of an attack or battle. So we lived in high temperatures, and under fluorescent lights, for more than three quarters of the time we were at sea and underway. We traveled the world of course, doing missions that protected our own country and many others along the way.
But once each year we faced the drills we all hated no matter what. And they always took place in the heat and humidity of Gitmo Bay, Cuba. Engineering drills, practices, for all kinds of possible damages to the plants. We have the drills and procedures always there on the deck plates and ready to go, we had to. Engineering Operational Procedures and the drilling processes were created to prevent loss of lives and equipment. And the Navy drilled us once a year on them bringing Engineering Causality Control Teams aboard ship to grade us and watch, us run them.
Onboard one ship I was on, called the U.S.S Pounce, an LPD out of Norfolk, Virginia, we ended up going to Cuba for drills twice in one year. Engineers are a hearty bunch and tough and we can take and do a lot, but even we hated the heat and humidity of Cuba. And we had a saying, we do anything, with nothing for so long, we can do everything with nothing and get it done! That was the way we worked and kept going.
Anyway we ended up in Cuba twice that year in the scorching heat and humidity and, we engineers blamed the Captain, not ourselves of course. We bitched moaned, argued and fought our way through though and ultimately made it to a passing grade on the second attempt. But we were not happy engineers at all.
Upon our return to Home Port, we found we had three months in port before our next underway period and we tried to enjoy being home. Before our next mission and underway period came up for us. What a variety we faced on this one, we went from the heat scorched hot temperatures of Cuba up into the North Atlantic Ocean and the cold.
Not thinking we would ever face more engineering drills again that soon, was a wrong idea for us engineers. The Captain decided at some point, we engineers needed more drilling. Well he started the drills in the Atlantic Ocean in the cold and we knew we had no choice but to do them. But a bunch of us got together and decided to get even with the Captain, unbeknownst to him or anyone else. Once the drills started we remembered who had control of the steam for the heaters in the cabins cabin. Revenge was about to come into play.
During a break in the drills, we decided we had enough of the drills time to stop the damn things. We came up with a solution, that the Captain didn’t like but we did and he never found out what happened.
We sent a guy into the overhead of the fire room, walking along the pipes and all. Had him close the valve to the Captain’s heaters in his cabin up top and then remove the reach rod that hung down to open and close the valve. A reach rod is a long pole attaches to the valve wheel and hangs down so you can turn a valve from the deck plate level.
The North Atlantic gets cold in winter months. Once closed we had the guy hide the reach rod and no one said a word. The next thing we got was a call from the Chief Engineer, what happened to the Captains heat? We told them we had no idea, it was working fine. The Captain was getting cold now.
As the cold increased in the Captain’s cabin and on the bridge the drills slowed to a halt in the engineering spaces. The reach rod couldn’t be found for sure and the Captain wasn’t a happy man. He had the Hull Technicians redesign a new reach rod and make one up, and bring it to us. His order was get it put on and that valve open. We of course took our time doing so. And we told the guy putting it in to do so loosely on purpose. So, when the Captain decided to restart the drills the valve would suddenly get shut off and the reach rod would disappear. We all were threatened with Captains Mast and being busted for it all, but you can’t bust a whole division of engineers and survive at sea. And of course no engineer would talk or say who did it. In the end we won the competition and the drills stopped on the cruise. We heard about it for months from the Officers and were warned if it happened again well, you get the picture. But the reach rod always had a way of falling off and disappearing no matter what! You may drive your engineers and work us to death Captain and make us sweat but in the end we got even yet. In the end we learned a lesson and so did the Captain, he learned not to overdo and we learned he could get back at us too. But the drills did stop for the time being. Which is what we wanted anyway!
For all, the above is a true naval tale, the ship names is changed and no dates are given for protection of the sailors who lived it.