Sea Stories
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Pirates Churchhill Religion Home Address Brotherhood T.S. Eliot Quote - Going too far

Well, it was just another rare day in port and I was standing Below Decks during the mid-watch.  This was a Catch-22, since having to stand watch during the night or early morning could be EXTREMELY boring if there was nothing to keep your mind busy.  On the other hand, at least on the mid-watch you could count on the various daily activities that had to be performed which helped the time pass much more quickly.

I had reached that critical point as a watchstander where you knew everything you needed to know to perform the required duties and had an air of confidence that made you feel that no challenge was too great.

On any given Below Decks watch, I had no trouble blowing San #2, bringing on potable water and checking in with the Torpedo Room security watch every 30 minutes, all while making my normal rounds to record the endless readings on the log sheets. On this particular night, I decided to push the bar a little higher by performing a number of these activities simultaneously.  This wasn't an uncommon practice by the more experienced watchstanders and I felt I was ready to join their ranks.

I had wrapped up blowing San #2 and headed into the void under 22-Man berthing to start bringing on potable water.  Once the water was flowing I headed back out to finish my hourly rounds and stop by the torpedo room to check in with the watchstander there.  Once I made it to the torpedo room, I was able to relax a little after the flurry of activity over the last hour and shoot the breeze with the torpedo room watch over a cup of coffee.

Suddenly, as if struck by a bolt of lightning out of the clear blue sky, I remembered that I hadn't secured the potable water onload yet!!

I made a mad dash into 22-Man berthing and opened the hatch leading into the pump room.  My eyes about bulged out of my head at what I saw.

I had pretty much prepared myself to see water filling the bilge when I opened the hatch, but not this!!  The water was at least 3 feet deep and rising rapidly.  The water was so deep that I couldn't climb down into it to secure the line-up.  I had to lie on my stomach and reach down through the hatch to secure the line up and start the bilge pump.

The water came within inches of reaching control panels fed by electrical cables which is another reason I elected NOT to climb down into the water-filled compartment.

Needless to say I had to perform an unscheduled pumping of San #1 as a result of my brain fart.

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© 2019 Brad Williamson
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U.S. Naval Institute News

20 JUL 2019

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