Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Coming out of drydock...it's more fun than a barrell of skimmers...

Well there we were...coming out of drydock for only about the thousandth time in new construction. At this point, with about one month underway (on another boat, for quals) and about 2 years on the boat in the shipyard, I figured I was about ready to be qual'ed "YW" ("yard warfare"), but damn if I didn't want to just get this new-con shiftwork long hours in-port-but-never-going-home bulls*it OVER AND DONE WITH.

But I digress...

I was day after on this fine undocking day, but of course I was also on the Maneuvering watch (1st half, this was going to be a long one), so got stuck aboard the boat for the whole damn thing. Tankfully, the EDPO let us day after guys sack it out in 21-man berthing (down just forward of the AMR on a 688) when our watch was done, at least until it was time to hump shore power back on at the pier. God only knows what the guys who didn't have to "ride the boat" over got to do...most of us poor saps that were stuck on the friggin' pig figured they were out drinkin' and wenchin' :)

I'd finished my watch as SRO, and we were just out of the dock (we'd been on the Maneuvering watch since they started draining the dock...a LONG process, and our CO was being anal as hell about it, keeping the boat manned for moving the WHOLE DAMN TIME), and was dozing off in my rack, when I heard an odd tone from 'Ol Blue (our diesel, which was painted a nice deep blue with gold trim). Wow, that don't sound quite right...and the followup 1MC confirmed it with "runaway diesel".

Quite frankly, I was somewhat scared...had visions of gears being flung through the casing, bulkhead, and my skull there in 21-man (of course, I had a bunk right by the AMR bulkhead...don't it figger?).

Well, our ace DG operator was on his game, had 'Ol Blue down and out nearly as fast as the 1MC had been made. And they got the situation fairly in hand, apparently, as I heard it come back up and level off to a normal rumble in a few minutes. I did go back aft to see if I was needed, but there wasn't much for a nub ET2 to do in this case, so I headed back to the sack.

But 'Ol Blue's troubles weren't over. The E-Divvers had been troubleshooting a ground in the IC Switchboard (in the BCP) all day, and were narrowing in on the guilty circuit...or so they thought. Truth to be told, they were shooting blind, but ground isolation in a panel like that is somewhat problematic anyway. So, once everything got to running smooth again, the CO gave permission to continue ground isolation.

Remember the SN circuit? Keep it in mind...it plays a part in the next act of this Greek tragedy.

Our "ace" EM1 (I say "ace" for his driving skill, as he had more speeding tickets than the rest of the boat...combined) was on the job. He was a great guy, nice as hell, give you the shirt off his back. Smart, too...in that nuclear knows-the-book-but-never-give-him-tools sort of way. Know the type? Can quote OP-2 or S&EPM OI201 verbatim from memory, can't shift the electric plant or clean an MG set to save his ass. Kinda makes a good EWS (OK, that was a low blow, but I was qual'ed EWS so I can take a swing at 'em :) Well, EM1 was up by the BCP, ground isolating for all he was worth. Meanwhile, we're snorkeling and doing a low-pressure blow (the good 'ol SN jumper for drydock ops was installed).

What could possibly go wrong?

If you guessed "pull the fuses for SN and shut down the diesel AND the blower", you get an A+. And 24 hours special liberty. Don't get too drunk, 'k?

Yes, he pulled the SN circuit fuses. "Secure snorkeling, secure the low pressure blow on all main ballast tanks, rig ship for reduced electrical" (um...it's rigged, and if it wasn't it is now, sparky). A-Gang (and the Old Man) were not amused. In the least. Nor, I imagine, was 'Ol Blue.

I didn't even bother to rack out for this one...as they'd made the announcement for commencing ground isolation in the IC switchboard only moments before the "secure snorkeling..." announcement, I was pretty sure I knew what happened. But, as luck would have it, the CO wanted to start critiquing as soon as the DG was up and the casualty recovered from...and guess who was the SRO? Yep, the ELPO, and the EM1 and EM2's who'd been ground isolating were, well, not really qualified anymore (funny how that happens), so I got a few more hours of SRO that undocking.

And the whole boat learned SN very well after that. Very, very well. Down to the fuse ratings and wire gauge in the circuit...

And never again did I see any maintenance performed during an undocking...


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Bubblehead said...

I remember leaving drydock at EB for the last time on Topeka; I was topside, and the EMs were divorcing from shore power; the EMs assigned to open the shore power breaker start coming back to the ship from the shore power bunker at a fast trot, as I hear from the 1MC from the Miami in the next drydock over -- "Loss of shore power, rig for reduced electrical". Next thing you know, all these Miami EMs and shipyard workers are scratching their heads around the shore power bunker, trying to figure out how their SP breakers had tripped, when they weren't overloaded or anything. It was almost as if someone had just gone up and tripped them manually...


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