Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Shore Story Urban Legends

The Navy, like every other organization, has its own collection of "urban legends" that get passed around. One of my favorites came from Nuke School.

For those unfamiliar with the culture of Nuke School, it's a place where it's easy to screw up. Not only are there academic pressures, it's very easy to get busted at Captain's Mast. When Nukes graduate from their "A" School, they automatically get advanced to PO3 -- this is much earlier than most people in the miltary make it to E-4. Back when I was going through the pipeline before Nuke Field "A" School, nuke MMs could be an MM3 within 6 weeks of leaving boot camp. Because of this, most Sailors felt that the enlisted Nukes hadn't really "earned" their crow. (Those Sailors, of course, were right.) Since it was relatively easy for the Nukes to make E-4, the COs at the school seemed to be of the opinion that it should be easy for them to lose it as well. As a result, everyone who went to NJP at Nuke School could expect to be demoted to E-3 as a minimum.

The urban legend I heard going through the school was about one such Captain's Mast where the smartass Nuke knew he was going to lose his crow, so he decided to make it memorable. He took his rating badge off his uniform, sewed his E-3 insignia on, then put his crow back on loosely connected at the five corners. When the bored CO, looking down at the charge sheet, announced that he was reducing him in rate, the Sailor dramatically ripped off his crow. The CO looked up and, without missing a beat, continued, "And since I see an E-3 standing before me, I'm reducing you to E-2".

As with a lot of urban legends, even if it's not true, it should be. What are some of your favorite Navy urban legends?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always heard the threats, "If you mess up, you'll get sent to the fleet to chip paint." Well, I made it through and guess what, I went to the fleet to chip


8/09/2007 10:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word was that if you failed to qualify in the two alloted patrols (Boomers), or got busted out of the submarine program other serious violations, you'd be sent to an oiler stationed at Norfolk.

Anyoen else ever heard that one?


8/09/2007 11:38 AM

Blogger Mr. C. said...

Teaching O-EE at Nuke School in Orlando was the best shore-tour I had as a Nuke.

8/09/2007 12:08 PM

Blogger Dale B said...

I thought that the maximum punishment at NJP was reduction in rank one grade and/or loss of one months pay and/or one month in the brig. It should be in the manual of court martial (name??).

I was in a similar program in avionics. You completed A school, extened for two more years (six total), got E-4 on the spot, and went directly to B school. Total school was about a year. We heard the same chiping paint threat althought it was only about flunking out of school. I never heard of anyone in school going to mast.

We had one guy flunk out of B school. He lost his E-4, kept his six year obligation, and got orders a helicopter squadron deployed to a supply ship. I don't know what he ended up doing on the ship. He was not happy.

8/09/2007 1:07 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I downloaded all 10MB of the MCM, and found that E-4s and below can be reduced all the way to E-1; E-5 and E-6 can only be reduced one grade. Here's the quote:
"reduction to the lowest or any intermediate pay grade, if the grade from which demoted is within the promotion authority of the officer imposing the reduction or any officer subordinate to the one who imposes the reduction, but enlisted members in pay grades above E-4 may not be reduced more than one pay grade, except that during time of war or national emergency this category of persons may be reduced two grades if the Secretary concerned determines that circumstances require the removal of this limitation;"
{MCM, Part V, Para. 5.b.2.(B).(iv)}

8/09/2007 2:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in Power School right now and it's almost a joke. I had a buddy get masted for drunk in public on his 21st Birthday. The truth, and I was there, is that he was drunk at the dive and heading to his buddy's car. . .

It's as if mil. div. starts getting undermanned and the masts increase just to get them up to strength. In fact, we had 7 or 8 people from my class get masted in less than a month, and some for ridiculous reasons.

8/09/2007 5:03 PM

Anonymous Roy said...

When I was serving on the boats - 1970's - getting kicked off submarine duty was called the "IBM" program.

Instant Boatswains Mate

8/09/2007 5:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I went thru Sonar "A" school back in the day, the skimmer ST "A" school was only 6 weeks as well, so there were guys who still had their boot camp suntans putting on a crow. Then, after their "A" school they went to BE&E, and then back to "C" school. Submarine guys did it all backwards; BE&E, then BESS, then "A", then "C". This longer path threatened to not only kick you off subs but turn you into an IBM as well.

As for the crow thing, I heard that in "A" school about some guy there at the ASW base. And I heard it at NTC, and I heard it in BESS. Sometimes it was held on by threads, sometimes velcro - and always the skipper would say "Lets see you do that again!"

Also, E-5s and above can't be busted more than one paygrade at a time, true, but I've seen a skipper hold back-to-back masts on a 1st Class who went UA, stole a buddy's motorcycle to go find his wife who had left him. And before you feel sorry for the dude, he was cheating on her.

8/09/2007 5:37 PM

Blogger Subvet said...

Boy, these stories really bring back memories!

My favorite urban legend concerned carriers. According to the tale; it seems they were doing a shipyard overhaul on the USS (insert the name of your favorite birdfarm here) and by tracing wires found an entire machine shop that had been inadvertently sealed off from the rest of the ship. Supposedly the shop was fully stocked with tools & equipment too!

The first time I heard it, I was on a boomer doing a Posiedon conversion in Newport News and the USS Wasp came in for decomm. I bought the story hook, line & sinker then. The last time it came up I was stationed on the Orion in La Madd and the story concerned the USS Carl Vinson. At that time I just grunted and went back to reading Navy Times.

8/09/2007 9:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite sea story is about a guy that is sitting on the messdecks one day and the growler rang, He picked it up and said, "What the F**k do you want?"
The person on the other end said, "Do you know who this is?"
The first guy says, "No".
"This is the Captain speaking"!
The first guys asks, "Do you know who this is?'
The Captain says, "No".
The first guys says, "Good Bye"! and hightails it out of there!

8/10/2007 12:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! I have a similar story. JO buddy of mine was standing EOOW and he's on the MJ talking to the ENG. Someone growls while he's talking and he says "Line not clear a$$hole!" the response "This is the Captain, who the F%^# is this???" my buddy hung up.

8/10/2007 1:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an East Coast sailor, I heard all the stories about the other coast and how it was much more easy-going. When I went to the NYC in Pearl and kept hearing the tale from my division about "its different here than what you're used to" because they didn't like that I made them actually do PMS and such. Then I went to Tunny in Pearl. The East vs West montra didn't work any more, so those guys tried telling me that "its different on a 637 than what you're used to." I didn't buy that either.


8/10/2007 6:48 AM

Anonymous bullnav said...

Rickover stories.

I have heard many. He was gone by the time I had my interview in '88 but you can still hear stories.

Stories about guys getting put in the closet during their interview or one guy urinating on Rickover's desk during the interview. Then there was the famous chair with the front legs shorter than the back legs...

8/10/2007 6:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the former S1C Nuclear Prototype Training Unit ("NPTU") in Windsor Locks, CT, the feedstation watch was trying to trace wiring in the overhead to see where it went. Shortly after he yanked on one of the wires, his exploration was cut short by a 1MC announcement of "reactor scram." The resulting critique was unable to determine the cause of the scram. The next day, he was again trying to trace the same wiring and, upon yanking the same wire as before, he heard "reactor scram" again on the 1MC. After that, more than one such reactor scram cut short the ever-popular Friday morning field day. I don't believe the powers that be ever caught on.

8/10/2007 11:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had an Ensign named Mr. Jinks. He had the biggest ears I've ever seen. He could wiggle them like no one else.

He told us that during his interview, Rickover asked him just one question, "Can you wiggle your ears?". Jinks responded that he could. Rickover asked him to perform the wiggle. Jinks did. End of interview.


8/10/2007 12:25 PM

Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/10/2007 12:38 PM

Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

The word was that if you failed to qualify in the two alloted patrols (Boomers), or got busted out of the submarine program other serious violations, you'd be sent to an oiler stationed at Norfolk.

We had a guy fail out of SETTs (Submarine Electronics Technical Training) back in '82; he did go to an oiler, but I think it was on the West Coast somewhere.

8/10/2007 1:00 PM

Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Another one I heard years ago was about an E5 who was awarded (love that word!) a suspended bust at mast, but was then permitted to be frocked to E6.

Shortly after the frocking, he ended up before the captain again. The recommendation for E6 was pulled, thus cancelling the frocking (E6 to E5); the suspended bust was activated (E5 to E4); and then the sailor was busted again for the new offence (E4 to E3). E6 to E4 in one captain's mast....

8/10/2007 1:05 PM

Blogger geezernuke said...

The stories about being placed in a broom closet during an interview with Rickover is not an urban ledgend. I can personally attest to even the smell of that closet.

8/10/2007 1:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An officer at the S1C prototype in Connecticut decided that he didn't want to complete his Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) qualification. He told that to his shift supervisor, the CO, and Admiral Rickover.

Although the Navy was short on funds at the time, there's always enough money for a highly motivated 4-star admiral to screw one guy--he was transferred to Turkey to be the officer in charge of moving household goods out of Iran (the Shah had recently been put out of a job).

8/10/2007 4:03 PM

Blogger Chap said...

I heard that story too--I think we went through NPS about the same time.

One of my classmates flunked out and went to the surface fleet as a conventional EM and was in the wrong turret on the Iowa. That was a bit of a shock to us at the time.

8/11/2007 9:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've been in Navy too long when you know people that have been involved in all of the collisions, groundings, etc.

In knew people who had been on boats such as Barbel, Bonefish, Guardfish, Sargo, Swordfish, and Tullibee during some of their more infamous exploits.

I even served with a guy that had been on USS Chopper (SS 342) when they had their famous 75 degree down angle, immediately followed by an 85 degree up angle--glad I wasn't there!

8/11/2007 12:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re. Subvet's story of the missing machine shop - it was the Enterprise. I worked with a guy who served on her at the time.


8/11/2007 9:33 PM

Anonymous ExNuke95 said...

In my NNPS class we had a RO who had a running 3.95 GPA. He was arrested one night for drunk driving, disorderly conduct, and ended up UA on top of it all.

I don't think it even went to XOI much less mast.

The guy washed out in prototype and ended up being a conventional ET. Last I heard, he was still in.

I ended up on a west coast target out of California. One of the EMs was doing a C&I on a 4160V transformer. He completed his tagout, pulled the covers on the transformer, and then was heard wondering why the transformer was still humming before trying to test it dead with the standard Fluke probes attached to his DVM.

The fireball vaporized the probe leads up to his fingers. He had 3rd degree burns on all exposed skin (did I forget to mention that he failed to wear his PPE) and the concussion from the explosion threw him backward so hard that he broke a rib on the thumbscrew holing the panels on the 4160V transformer behind him. Needless to say he was helo'd out to SD for medical care.

He came back about 3 months later, but he got out under DADT... Guess he got his polarity switched...

8/13/2007 9:59 AM

Blogger Daniel said...

Great story on S1C and scrams. The funny thing is, I don't remember any loose wiring in the overhead there.... (still a good story :)

8/13/2007 10:39 AM

Blogger bothenook said...

every submariner worth his weight in GDU sinkers knows the story of the floating wire trailing the boat, with a 1/4 mile of seagulls resting on it.

me, i'd like to see the seagull that could hold on to a wire zipping through the water at 10 knots...

8/13/2007 6:22 PM

Anonymous Wingnut said...

The story went that a guy (nuke of indeterminate rate)one day started picking up papers stating: "That's not it." This went on for a few months with many psych evals in which he exhibited the same behavior repeatedly.

So it was finally determined that he was, in fact, crazy and he would be given a medical discharge. The day arrives to sign the papers and the presiding officer pushed the DD-214 to the hapless sailor who subsequently picked up the DD-214, loudly declared: "THAT'S IT!", quickly signed the DD-214 and obtained his discharge.

And that's a no-sh!tter.


8/15/2007 9:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have any other nukes heard of the 807 legend? I was on the JCS and it was all you heard about from disgruntled nukes.

My favorite humor item (and there were several) was the yoda statue in the RC during an entire pac you could see from the periscope by the RC door.

9/10/2007 6:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also loved the model ship floating around in the RAR bilge and the E.T. hidden in the scalar in nucleonics (yes im an ELT)

9/10/2007 6:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

807 was on USS Carl Vinson... A book in the plant was hidden, and nukes on watch started a list of reasons they hated the place. Reason number 807 was "This place sucks" and it stuck... Also heard of a guy at nuke school who whigged out and began driving a pretend motorcycle everywhere he went, noises and all. He got a psych release, rode the motorcycle outside the gate, put the kickstand down, and walked away LOL

6/18/2008 7:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...found an entire machine shop that had been inadvertently sealed off from the rest of the ship. Supposedly the shop was fully stocked with tools & equipment too!"

I always thought that was an entertaining legend, until I was assigned to replace an exhaust fan. Behind a bolted hatch, we found a large compartment about the size of my living room, with a full complement of tools abandoned by the last "work party".

9/10/2008 5:39 AM

Blogger mimmy said...

Well I made it through and guess what, I went to the fleet to chip pain lol.
California Dui

9/16/2008 8:19 PM

Blogger synjones said...

I have gone through the above article its interesting.

California Dui

9/17/2008 10:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unexplained scrams must have been fairly common over the years at the S1C Prototype. When I was there as an ELT instructor, there were 2 RO nukes, a husband and wife, who participated in Nuclear Instrumentation testing on night shift for 2 nights. They were both students, but had complete quals and were conducting the routine testing.

The first night, a plant scram occurred during the NI testing performed by the husband. The resulting "Green Table" (the conference table had a green finish) evaluation failed to identify the cause of the scram. The next night his wife was repeating the same test procedure, and again the plant scrammed. Another trip to the Green Table revealed the fluke they used in both tests was defective and actually sent a fault signal to the NI protection system, resulting in a reactor scram.

2/12/2009 9:13 PM

Blogger Jon said...

I remember a story about reenlistments... the story was that when it came time for you to reenlist, you would sign a DD-214, then sign a reenlistment paper. Between those two signatures, you were effectively out of the Navy.

The story was that a sailor of indeterminate rating signed his DD-214, then said "See ya" and walked out. This was much more effective for those that decided to STAR reenlist, of course.

12/21/2009 11:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Would you like to ship over STAR,
Carry pro-pay home in a jar;
Ride to B-School in a new car,
Or would you rather be a Nuke?

A Nuke is an animal with too many ears,
He signs up with every thing he hears..."

Circa 1970, sung to tune of "Wish on a star."

Anybody know the rest?


8/22/2011 3:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never heard of the 807 legend but while on the Halibut we had the "FROG LOG" back in Nucland. The bitches, gripes and poems (yes poems) in it were really funny.

1/04/2012 8:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the cavalla 684 we had the book of dowell a book of dumb or funny comments heard thru the years. One day a 17 yr em1 wood turned off lube oil to the tg's causing a delay in orse training. He was so upset he destroyed the book. I also remember the crazy motorcycle guy story. Was any one in a school fall of 90? Remember two guys in my a school class got some pop tried to hijack a plane from the little airport came back to ase and tried to kill a fireman. Was standing PowerSchool watch when two guys jacked off on someone's pizza.

1/21/2012 5:22 PM

Blogger . said...

It was the USS Long Beach. I spotted the bird and the cable floating next to the ship, and it wasn't a seagull.

8/07/2013 3:41 PM


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