The See-Everything-and-Sweat Tour

[from the vaults, 2007]

April 4

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.

working on a fuel leak

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) bow prop room 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.).

CWO Andy Molnar in aft steering Munro in dry dock PO Eric Childers in the Snake Pit

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 Vise Gang

The last photo Andy took last night and sent it to me along with this explanation:

engine room repairs

“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.


Check out
ENS Dan Schrader’s photo essay of our patrol

Click here to order a copy.


Dana View All →

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16 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dear Dana,

    My son, Eric Golder (LTJG) is in two of the pictures that you posted today, 4/05/07, regarding the engine room.

    Do you know of any way that pictures can be copied and put into a computer so that they can be printed? It was so wonderful to see him.

    Thank you.
    Carol Golder

  2. Dear Dana,

    I figured out how to download the pictures into the computer. Right click the mouse, then choose “Save Image as” then choose the directory/folder that you want the picture to go to and save it into that. That works!

    The pictures are now in my computer, printed out in 8-1/2×11 paper and taped to the side of my desk. Now to get to Staples and get that size photo paper for good quality photo prints.

    Have to review what you’ve said about your speaking/book-signing engagements. If you’re in the Seattle area at any time, or in Juneau around Christmas time, would love to meet you. You’ve brought so much sunshine into my life by bringing news of my son.

    Again, Thanks.
    Carol Golder

  3. Thanks again, Carol! Engineers are shy creatures (“Oh no, there’s that woman with the camera again, please just go away and let us do our jobs!”) but they stood up manfully under the attack yesterday, and turns out they’re pretty photogenic.

    As for the photos, clicking on any one of them should take you to Flickr, where all the photos are posted in an “underway on the Munro” file. All the photos are public, and are downloadable in different sizes, you can order copies, you could have them made into a calendar if you wanted, and a bunch of other stuff. I have the account set so that any Flickr member can do so. You have to join Flickr, which is fairly painless, and you need a credit card. Have at it!

  4. Thanks so much for the pictures in the engine room, my husband PO Childers looks great! It was a nice surprise to see him.Our Daughter Sara Rose got a kick out of seeing daddy she thinks his famous and can’t wait to tell her friends at school.Thanks again Dana for keeping us close to the Munro.

  5. Thaks again for the story of theMUNRO uderway I look forward every morning to seeing what happened the day before in the life of our Grandson, PO3 Duncan.

  6. I was a Navy Engineer for 23 years. The main engine looks looks a Fairbanks Morse. My first ship was a Icebreaker and that is the first engine I worked one after diesel school.Then we were called Engineman.
    Brings back memories of long hours and working during libertycall.
    Wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
    Engineers(Practical Type) have always been a proud group.

  7. Dana, Thank you for the two stories on the engine rooms tours. I have been down there myself (though not at 120 degrees). I recognized several of the crew from your great photos. Those engineers and mechanics are kinda like offensive lineman who protect the quarterback but don’t always get the credit.

    Judi Hernandez

  8. Dana,
    Thanks for taking us on the grand tour of the engineering deck. It was awesome to read and learn about the “heart” of the Munro. The pictures were great too! I now have a better understanding of why my son gets so excited about his job! Sweat, diesel engines and oil leaks. Yeah! That’s right up his alley and my son has always liked being a grease Monkey! I have to agree, they are a special breed. I can understand why he’s been so enthused about becoming an engineer Coastie! Thanks a bunch for the insight and all the sweat it took to get it done. Great job!

    With much regard and blessings to all the crew,

    Proud Coastie MOM – Lou =)

  9. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information you have been passing along to the families. You have made the last 3 weeks fly by. I hope you can come back and spend more time with the cutter.

    Kris Molnar
    Munro Ombudsman

  10. Dana – I’m sure that all would agree that the USCG chose well in giving you access to the officers and crew of the Munro who seem to have given you ample access to a wide range of experiences and much material to work with. The fact that you are encouraged to extend your stay or return if possible speaks for itself – they are obviously not rushing you off the ship as it seems you have made yourself a welcome guest. High praise I’m sure, from what is a serious-minded group with a serious mission.

    Your accounting of life on a 378 is inspiring to the family and friends that love and admire their coasties – you have given us more detailed reasons for that being the case by sharing this daily chronology with us. I trust that our coasties are possibly more enthusiastic but certainly no more grateful than their families, for having their commitment and talents documented this way.

    It will be difficult for all of us to say good-bye when it it is time for you to go. We have become accustomed to daily updates of the latest goings on of the Munro. Likewise I can only imagine that the crew has developed a sense of pride in having you report on their activities knowing you are generously sharing them with all of us.

    I could not have imagined possible, an even deeper appreciation and respect for the officers and crew of the Munro than I already had. You’ve provided all of us with a unique and treasured experience – one that will be sorely missed. Thank you for sharing their world with us in a way that is so much richer and more real than anything that I could imagine.

    Happy Easter to all – enjoy your feast and sunset mass. We as always, are thinking of you, sending our love and prayers to you and trying not to miss you too much!

    Sincerely, Lynn L

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