Two Potentially Contaminated Engineers
So there I was... underway on USS Seawolf (SSN 21) sometime in late '97. I was the Eng on PCU Connecticut (SSN 22), and they sent me out to watch Seawolf's ORSE work-up so I'd have more experience seeing what a Seawolf could do at sea. I knew what a pain in the ass it is to have riders from other boats onboard, so I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible and just followed their Eng around. We were getting ready to run the second drill set of the day, and the Eng got called up to the forward part of the Engine Room to check out some water they found on one of the valves up by the RC bulkhead. I went with him, and sure enough, there was water in the driptray for this valve... then we saw water in another valve driptray, higher up... then we saw the water was coming from the deck above us... then we looked down around our feet, and noticed we (the 21 Eng, the 21 EDMC, and I) were standing in puddles of water.
For those of you who aren't nukes, water coming out of pipes on the forward wall of the Engine Room is rarely a good thing. There are some systems that really do have "contaminated" water, and others that are only "potentially contaminated"; being nukes, we treat them as if they were contaminated until we prove otherwise. (This water was coming from an overflow line from a big, big flask -- you nukes know what I mean.)
Anyway, we were standing around in the water, and slowly it hit us... all of us were potentially contaminated with radioactive water. Being good nukes, we knew we had to call away a spill. (As an aside: Who remembers the immediate actions for a spill? I still do, because of the acronym "SWIMS" -- Smile, Walk away, Ignore It, Make up a story, Stick by your story.) The word gets passed to Maneuvering, and they passed the word to Control, so then the whole ship knew: "Spill in the Engine Room, the Engineer, the EDMC, and the 22 Engineer are potentially contaminated."
Now this surprised the CO, who was sitting in the wardroom. It turns out that the first drill they had planned for the drill set was a spill in the Engine Room, and he wondered what the hell the Eng was doing starting the drill without his permission!
I got frisked out of there right away, and went up to tell the CO what happened. It turned out, of course, that it wasn't a big deal -- there were no "counts" to be found, and they torqued a valve to stop the "leak". And the drill set went off only a few minutes late...
And then there was the time on Connecticut where we had a real leak in the middle of our spill drill... but that's another story (and one I can't tell here without violating some sort of "Restricted Data" rule). All I can say is that the EDMC and I knew there was something wrong when we all of a sudden saw about 10 guys start running away from the spill area at the same time...