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Nautical rivalry

September 24, 2020

There is a longstanding rivalry in the two military sea services (USCG and USN) that transcends even their long inter-service rivalry. That is the rivalry between deck force and engineering. It exists in both and has been present for about as long as each of the two services has existed. Perhaps this will resonate with some of you.

Long ago the First Engineer spake unto his engineerlings thusly: “Screw not with Deck Force. For though we maketh the ship to go, that we be not stuck at the dock and be mocked by others as we whine ‘are we there, yet’, Deck Force maketh the ship to not leak like a sieve, taking on water and sinking into the briny deep and joining Davy of the Jones clan and all his tiny fishies, and they navigate the ship that we runneth not aground upon some rock in the New World but declare ourselves to have reached the East Indies. And both fierce and fearsome is Deck Force in its wrath. And if you forget my words, be warned that in the day you screw with Deck Force, their overwhelming anger shall bloom forth and you will find the battle too wearying and you will tremble as with ague. Then you shall remember my words, but it will be too late to save you from their fierce vengeance.” And the engineerlings said “far be it from us, as far as the stars are from the earth, that we should forget such a thing.”

Now the sea services runneth on two principles, Pride and Tradition, which harken back to the First Ship and its crew. And the rivalry between those who maketh the ship to not leak like a sieve and navigate that the ship runneth not aground, and those who maketh the ship to go is part of both (and there be other forces on the ship as well, but they be not true sailors for they merely twiddle with little circuits, and besides they have but lady parts in their nether regions). And when the days of the First Engineer were passed, behold there arose another generation of Engineers who remembered not the words of the First Engineer and the bitter lesson he had learned at the hands of Deck Force. And when Deck Force painted the decks that lead to one side of the engineering spaces, and informed Engineering of the necessity of taking the long way around, the Engineers did spare themselves the extra 30 seconds it would have taken to use the other passageway and instead walked upon the freshly painted deck while it was yet tacky. And Deck Force began to grumble. And lo, though Deck Force did warn them before it again painted the deck, the Engineers did again walk upon the freshly painted surface. And the grumbling that had been quiet and reserved became louder. A third time Deck Force took the deck down to bare metal and primed it and warned the Engineers this third time saying “be not fools but wise and walk not upon the freshly painted deck while it is tacky, and if you walk upon it before it is dry it will not end well for you.” But the Engineers heeded not the warning of Deck Force, nor did they remember the words of the First Engineer who said “Screw not with Deck Force.” And the grumbling of Deck Force reached the ears of the Chief Boatswain’s Mate, also known as the BMC, and he smiled cruelly, for he had A Plan. And he had Deck Force knock off early that day, with only those on watch working or training past 1600 and he bade them to hit the rack immediately after the evening meal that they might get their sleep. And Deck Force heeded his words, for he was he not the Chief and was his word not Law? The BMC shared his plan in the Chief’s Mess with the other Chiefs. Even the Chief of Engineering chuckled when he heard it saying, “my flock has forgotten the words of the First Engineer, so do unto them as you will, only leave them not unable to do their job of making the ship to go albeit with great effort and pain.” And the BMC agreed and the entire Chief’s Mess agreed that it was a Good Plan.

That night, upon the Third Watch, the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch, known also as the BMOW, did awaken Deck Force as he made his rounds. And he giggled as he awakened them, for the Chief had shared his Plan with him that he might understand the necessity of awakening Deck Force. And lo, there was a bulkhead that needed to be taken down to bare metal. It was in sad repair and had areas of penetrating rust, and on the other side of it was the berthing area of Engineering. And Deck Force did bring to bear their chipping hammers and sanders and that mightiest of weapons for the making of noise, the Needle Gun. The racket was loud and echoed throughout Engineering berthing, but when the Engineers burst forth and demanded to know why they were awakened from their childlike slumbers and their dreams of pink unicorns they discovered they faced not a mere seaman nor a BM3, nor even a BM2 or a BM1, but the BMC who mocked them saying “this needed to be done now for my men of Deck Force had to waste their time painting the deck that led the short way to your berthing spaces not once, not twice, but thrice because you heeded not their warning. Now, this bulkhead must be taken down to bare metal, though it be accomplished with loud noise for the remainder of the night.”

The engineers did threaten the BMC, saying “we will go to the Chief or even the EO and complain,” but the BMC spake thusly, saying “I have spoken your Chief and he laughed mightily at my plan, but feel free to go to whomever you wish for they will then realize you are but as those who twiddle with little electric circuits and have but lady parts in your nether regions.” So the engineers went back to their berthing area and covered their heads and ears with pillows, pursuing a sleep that was not to be theirs, for the volume of the sanders and the chipping hammers and the Needle Guns was overwhelming. And later that day, as they went through their work and watches, wearied with fatigue, they began to shake and tremble as with ague. Then did they remember the words of the First Engineer when he spoke his words of warning, “Screw not with Deck Force.”

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2 Comments
  1. OldNFO permalink

    Good one, and there is ALWAYS payback!

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