Monday, June 27, 2005

Monkey-related PERSTRANS Story

(Cross-posted by Bubblehead from Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished)

So there I was... standing Officer of the Deck on USS Topeka (SSN-754) the day after we finished a port visit in Phukett, Thailand, just before Christmas 1992. Seems the off-duty portion of the crew was hanging out in Crew's Mess, swapping liberty stories. Someone mentioned all the monkeys that the various vendors had to draw attention to their wares, and one of the Nuke electricians said something along the lines of, "Yeah, and they had really sharp teeth." The Doc was listening in on this shoot-the-shit, and grabbed the guy, verified that he had been bitten by a monkey, and went to see the CO. About five minutes later I get a buzz on the conn: "Make preps to come to PD and establish comms with SubGroup Seven."
You see, our Doc had warned us during the pre-liberty briefings to avoid the wildlife, since rabies was a problem in Thailand. Next thing we knew, we got new water to head towards Diego Garcia; the USS Ranger, the flagship of our Battle Group (which was heading towards Australia after supporting our initial landing in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope) was the nearest source of rabies vaccine; they flew an S-3 to DiGar to deliver the vaccine.
We did the PERSTRANS, dropping off our potentially rabid nuke, along with one other crew member. (He had joined the boat in Bahrain about a month earlier, and apparently decided that submarine life wasn't for him; he had chosen to use the excuse that got a guy out of the Navy faster than anything else... you military guys out there all know what I mean...)
Anyway, it looked like we were down one throttleman for our upcoming end of deployment ORSE. I remember talking with my watch section about the potential pros and cons of having a rabid member of the Maneuvering watch team. On the plus side, some casualties would become non-events: "These throttles aren't stuck!" he'd shout, as he used his superhuman strength to overcome whatever resistance to throttle motion the drill monitor at the Aux SPCP could provide. On the other hand, I could just imagine the kind of comments we'd get: "Training value was lost when an obviously rabid throttleman became enraged when the ELT brought a bottle of water into Maneuvering. Additionally, the same rabid throttleman attempted to bite the Board members, contrary to Paragraph B.2 of the ORSE Precepts Letter."
Our lesson learned from the whole situation: Don't let Thai monkeys bite you -- unless you want to spend a month at home in San Diego with your family while your shipmates are out doing an ORSE workup.
(Epilogue: The guy ended up rejoining us in Pearl, and rode us for the last week of the deployment; we used him as a drill monitor. We kicked ass on the ORSE.)

Going deep...


At 11:12 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Those mock "comments" were GREAT. And "potentially rabid nuke"...that could describe many an EM I've served with :)

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Bubblehead said...

If you've got to have one rabid person on a boat, though, I'd probably choose an A-ganger; harder to tell the difference from their normal behavior, and the superhuman strength would be best used in AMR...

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Alex Nunez said...

I believe that particular monkey has just been sighted in Kentucky.

No word on whether or not an S-3 has been dispatched with the vaccine, though....

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Gus Van Horn said...

"Don't let Thai monkeys bite you -- unless you want to spend a month at home in San Diego with your family while your shipmates are out doing an ORSE workup."

This reminds me of what one unhappy fellow JO said once when we were getting ready for an underway and some A-Ganger got out of it with a dental-emergency-from-hell. "Some people get all the good deals!"

Well. I guess that's what he got for obsessing over dental hygiene.


At 11:42 AM, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Rabid nukes, OMG.

Of course, "These throttles aren't stuck!" reminded me that the nuke in question need not be rabid for fun to ensue. And so, since I am too lazy to put a new post up, a give you a mini-TINS:

After an unfortunate incident a few years prior to this story, my boat had banned M-div'ers from standing throttlemonkey. Let's just say that answering an Ahead Flank Cavitate while trying to simultaneously swat the AEA does not mix. Anyway, time has passed, and we have a new EDEA, and he decides the mechanics need the experience of standing a Manuevering watch prior to trying to qual EWS. That and we had just lost two E-div guys for various reasons, so we were short wire rates, but fat on mechanics (insert tubby mechanic joke here).

Enter MM2 Melonhead (yeah, name changed - he is still in, no need to embarass the boy). There he was, standing his very first throttleman u/i. The EDEA (Engineering Dept. Enlisted Advisor - senior nuke on board. Usually with the attitude toward the pointy end of the boat that Rickover displayed toward the CNO), with the ENG and CO ok, decides to run a quick stuck throttle drill on him, just to see how he would react. To ensure he was not tipped off, it would be just the EDEA holding the throttles in the engineroom, and no one else in the engineroom would be in on the drill. Now, this EDEA was a relatively big guy, about 6'1" and right at 210 - yeah, I know this because we both always got roped and choked together. MM2, however, was a strapping 6'2" and all muscle. We can see where this is going. The OOD changes the bell per the CO's direction, and Melon tries to move the throttles. He grunts a little. The mocking in Manuevering begins, "Sheesh, can't a big guy like you get a little wheel like that to move?" Then, suddenly, it does. MM2 smiles triumphantly at us, just as we hear over the 4MC, "Injured man in the Engineroom! Doc report to Engineroom Upper Level!" Yup, MM2 had sent the EDEA sailing into the mains next to the aux SPCP. The EDEA got a nasty bump and a lesson in how to properly run a drill, we got a good laugh, and MM2 was a hero for a good month. Gotta love the wrench turners.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Reminds me of this big MM student we had at prototype in Charleston. This guy was least 6'3", all muscle, spent 4-off's lifting weights every day.

Now being an MM at prototype, he didn't qual/stand throttleman, but he was about twice as strong as anyone (staff or student) that did. For his time at prototype, he was the stuck throttle drill prop. And no one sent him flying...the throttles didn't even twitch when he was holding them at the SPACP :)


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