[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Today I got another tour of engineering and all things related to making the boat go, this time courtesy of MPA Andy Molnar. All respect to EO LT Todd Raybon, I think he was a little afraid I might possibly perspire. Andy suffers from no such inhibitions; this was the see-everything-and-sweat tour.
I saw it all (except for a couple of places with the word “sewage” in their names he said I didn’t need to see and I was happy to be guided by him) from the bow prop room where the bow prop and its controls are (see photo) to aft steering, aka DC storage, where you see the massive shafts that control the rudders (see photo, and see also photo of the Munro in dry dock. See the guy between the propellers? The photo of Andy in aft steering is right over those rudders.).
I took a bunch of photos of engineers along the way for your viewing pleasure. My personal favorite is of the Vise Gang in Repair Locker 3. They look so, I don’t know, so kick-ass.
The last photo Andy took last night and sent it to me along with this explanation:
“The engineers in the pictures are working on the number 1 main diesel engine. A oil leak developed and was dripping under the exhaust shielding onto the hot exhaust manifold. As the oil drops would hit the manifold they would flash off into a very small flame. This was all shielded by the cover and all you would see was a flash of light coming from under the exhaust shielding. The engine was stopped and allowed to cool. Repairs to the engine were made by MK3 Dereck White, FN Guy Walkner, MK2 Warren Grimes, MK1 Eric Childers and LTJG Eric Golder. Working in this area of the engine room is very hot, usually between 120 and 130 degrees. The repairs started at about 2130 (9:30pm) and took about 4 hours to complete with numerous breaks due to heat stress conditions.”
I like the use of the phrase ‘heat stress conditions” here. I like how nonchalant it is. “Yeah,” he could have said with perfect truth, “we were sweating like pigs and totally dehydrated ten minutes into a four-hour job.” But he didn’t, because, hey, that is the job, that’s what engineers do.
I suffer from no such inhibitions. Just so you know, the first thing I did upon returning from the tour was put in a load of laundry.
About engineers, here’s the view from the top:
“On all six of the ships I’ve served aboard, the engineering ethos or culture hasn’t changed a bit. They remain an intensely prideful group who seem to take a broken piece of equipment, regardless of how minor, as a personal affront. They are often uncomfortable in the limelight, preferring to simply do whatever it takes to ensure we can execute the mission. The hours they work, especially right before we sail, often mean little downtime if there are maintenance issues that have to be resolved.
“When we pull into ports for a break, they typically spend the first six to eight hours refueling while others are headed for cold refreshment (the cooks & mess cooks, helped by the duty section are also commonly loading stores as we may be recalled if needed so we have to get back up to 100% ASAP). On top of that, we always have equipment that, if it’s not at 100% but operating (for example, the evap that makes our water or the steering system), it’s during the holiday routine that comes with a patrol break when the engineers have the access to conduct maintenance or repairs on vital systems.
There is an expression, “Choose your rate, chose your fate” that is bitter but true. Like you said the other night, our engineering systems are the heart of the ship. To accurately describe the immense value of a devoted, professional group like the engineers to our ability to be Semper Paratus for all threats and all hazards takes a lot more than a few sentences, but I think you get the picture.”
–Captain CB Lloyd
I think I do. There is a poem by Rudyard Kipling called “The Sons of Martha.” My dad was a master mechanic, and it was his favorite. Mechanics, engineers, the people who make things work don’t as a rule do poetry, they’re way too left brain for that, but they should do this one, because it’s all about them.
And maybe I wrong them. This evening Andy grabbed me up by the scruff of the neck and hauled me out to the fantail, where our propellers were boiling up a froth of luminescent wake so bright it looked like we had a big spotlight mounted on the stern. SN Alex Trimble was there, too, and he told me the story about the WWII aviator whose radar was out and the luminescence was so strong in his carrier’s wake that night that he was able to follow it home.
ENS Dan Schrader’s photo essay of our patrol.
Click here to order a copy.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.