A Tender Tale

Got your spell on me baby, got your spell on me baby
Got your spell on me baby turnin my heart into stone
I need you so bad magic woman I can't leave you alone...

After one date, 10 days of actually "being together", a couple hundred letters over six months...
June 10, 1972. Yup. June 10, 1997 was our 25th Anniversary.
When it's right - it's RIGHT.

We moved into base housing at Mare Island - with lots of help from some very special people - Chief John Davis - Chief Robert Dibben - ETN3 Wally Morey... Some great friends. We managed to put a few more years into the old AS-19 - new engines in propulsion... new habitability spaces - replaced worn-out air conditioning - new floor tiles and fresh paint - (and NO I don't know anything about that 1,300 gallons of mist green paint that Mare Island shipyard lost)...

Mare Island Security Pass
Mare Island "E" ticket...
By the way - my job title during the overhaul was habitability department supply petty officer - or Procurement PO for short.... I also doubled as an electrician supervisor - running a gang of 15 - 18 men wiring bunk lights and similar stuff. In running that crew - I learned a couple of valuable lessons about "assuming" anything.

Short Sea Story.

In overhaul - everyone gets into just about everything. So you might have someone doing something that they don't know much about - and you should assume nothing. Take Electronics techs. They work with electricity and wires all the time - so it makes perfect sense to use them as electricians - right? Sure. Just make sure that your insurance is paid - and that you are far away! One of the tasks they were assigned was to wire in some new flood lights that had been mounted on the boat deck. A yard electrician had pulled the new wiring to each fixture - all that was needed was to strip the individual wires - and put them on the correct terminals. Nothing fancy. Like I said - these were Electronics techs - Let's see - Three wires - Black, White and Green. Well Black is ground - so it goes to the case. The other two wires must go to the two screw terminals. If you know AC wiring - you probably understand why when a "real" electrician put the fuse back in the AC Main circuit these lamps were wired to - the fuse itself exploded. Needless to say - he was a little pissed. That's when they decided to have someone start supervising these guys - and since I had a couple years in electrical - I was "volunteered."

Mare Island Jacket Patch
Mare Island Jacket Patch
But the major portion of my time was getting materials from the warehouses to the people on the ship doing the work. My assigned vehicle during this time was a 5 ton stake-bed chevy - and more than once I'd come back from a supply run with it sitting on the axels... I got to where I knew all the ins and outs - who was where - when - got pretty good with fork lifts - and did pretty well at cumshaw - that's a polite Navy term for a tip or gratuity - and we were very greatful for many of the things we got for the ship. I never stole anything outright - but some of the trades I made were - well - let's just say everything I got went to the ship and leave it at that. Did I mention most of the berthing areas recieved a fresh coat of Sea Mist Green? Very soothing color. One thing about taking a ship through overhaul - it's a huge opportunity: You can go places on the ship you wouldn't be able to get near any other time. You can see how the "guts" of stuff works - pay attention - and be exposed to every major system - and most minor subsystems - as they get stripped down - checked - refurbished - and re-assembled. The new propulsion system was particularly fascinating to me - I guess because I had been running it on the trip over - and also just the size of everything - One day I was looking down at the pier - and noticed an engine sitting there. a short distance behind it were what at first glance appeared to be toys - full size cars and pickups parked along the way. One BIG engine. Once they got everything installed - they needed to test the generation part - and since we weren't in the water - they couldn't use the motors as a load. So they brought these huge resistor load boxes aboard - I think 8 - each one could dissapate some 1 million watts - and they tested each "engine room" as a unit. Each engine room had 3 16 cylinder General Motors engines (actually there were 5 per engine room - the three for propulsion - the other two AC power generation) - each could develop a couple thousand horsepower. These engines turned generators - each generated up to 750 volts (500 normally) at up to 3000 amps. The three generators were in series - so their added output combined for "normal" running would produce 1500 volts at 2000 Amps. Full power was close to 2250 Volts at close to 3000 Amps - Some 6.75 million watts - or some (roughly) 8500 horse power. And of course - the other engine room could generate the same. Four (big) motors were mounted to a reduction gear - the output shaft of the reduction gear was the propeller shaft. At normal "cruise" (1500V @ 2000A) - the "loop" would power the shaft to about 112 turns per minute - roughly 12 knots. It takes a lot of power to shove 37 million pounds of ship through the water at 12 knots... While they were testing the power system - a yard worker was trying to see something in the works of the main propulsion switching panel - some switch or something wasn't working right - and he was trying to see what it was doing. Apparently - he lost his balance - and grabbed for a hand hold - unfortunately - what he grabbed was live. It reminded us all just how easy it is to give your life in service of your country - and just how fragile life is.

Next page

© 1997 Common Cents Computers