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.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This Is One Reason Drinking Aboard Ship Is A Bad Idea

Did you know that just being drunk and stupid while onboard the boat, even if you're not on duty, was one of those general Article 134 offenses? A lot of those little rinky-dink General Article offenses seem a little bit silly, but it turns out that there's a reason you might not want drunk people onboard the ship -- even though we've all seen enough guys being hauled down the ladder, or been a little tipsy coming back from liberty ourselves.

Check out this story that purports to tell why the CO of USS Halsey (DDG 97) got relieved for cause earlier this year. Excerpts:
Cmdr. John J. Pinckney Jr. was relieved after a Navy inquiry revealed how he encouraged other officers and sailors – even those on watch duty – to drink during and after the Nov. 2 reception aboard the Halsey for dignitaries in Kagoshima, Japan.
The investigation also indicated that Pinckney changed a report to hide the seriousness of the fire that damaged one of the ship's two main reduction gears, which help drive the propellers.
The Halsey returned to San Diego on Dec. 24 without further incident. But the Navy linked an explosion and fire in the same gear the next month to Pinckney's incomplete account of the first fire...
...Two officers said Pinckney insisted that they drink alcohol even though they told him they were on duty.
“The (command duty officer) and I realized we may be the only sober line officers on the entire ship,” the duty operations officer that day said in a statement to investigators. “I was fed up, and this situation was totally (unsatisfactory).”
Shortly after 10 p.m., alarm bells signaled a fire in a dehumidifying unit of the No. 1 engine room. The duty officers became angry when only about 15 members of the firefighting team responded, several of them too drunk to put on their gear, investigators said.
One officer said he randomly grabbed sober-looking sailors to help out. The blaze was extinguished within minutes, but not before it spread to the main reduction gear.
The duty officers said they had trouble reaching Pinckney, who had retired to his stateroom. Over their objections, he ordered them not to enter the burned area until morning and not to send a report up the chain of command.
While the main problem here was obviously the CO's decision not to inform the chain of command about what really happened, it made me ponder what might have happened some nights on the boat when most of the crew was pretty much unusable. It's probably not something we can fix (unless you tell the crew they can't drink while on liberty anymore unless they have a place in town), but I'm wondering how close to disaster we've come from similar situations. Does anyone have any sea stories they'd like to relate?


Blogger Subvet said...

Not exactly a horror story, but when I was on the USS Omaha (SSN 692) we made a weapons certification run down to Port Canaveral and St. Croix. One of our enterprising TMSN's connived with his buddies on topside and in the torpedo room to sneak a few cases of beer aboard. He took them down to the room, opened a tube (yeah, major nono but no brain surgery involved in the making of this seastory)loaded them in and went off to his rack.

The next morning he woke to the sound of water slugs being fired. As he ran screaming into the room guess what tube the AWEPS ordered to fire.

I didn't see it but supposedly there was an impressive amount of foam by the bow immediately after that.

It all got hushed up, the AWEPS was a really relaxed sort who thought it was too funny to take further up the chain of command.

9/27/2007 3:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless things have changed a lot, the tube is required to be check as being empty before a water slug is fired. More than one weapons gang has been caught ejecting a torpedo from an "empty" tube.

I suspect that this was done and the AWEPs knew what was in the tube and decided to administer a lesson to the young lad. Heck, a couple of case were probably even saved and squirlled away.

Chief Torpedoman

9/27/2007 4:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, what the chief said.


9/27/2007 12:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the late 70's the USS Gutfish SSN665 was test firing TLAM's off of San Clemente Island and mooring off shore at night. We found out they had a club on the island and pleaded with the Captain to let us go ashore, promising of course to be good boy's. He aranged for taxi service to the island where we proceded to talk several newly qualified young men to drink their dolphins. When the skiff brought us back we had about 4 men overboard a couple of them were between the boat the skiff that had just tied up for offload. Luckily nobody was injured. Needless to say we did not get to go ashore again.

9/27/2007 2:51 PM

Blogger Subvet said...

Chief Torpedoman and RM2(SS), I don't know about things changing. But not checking a tube that had been previously verified empty and then padlocked shut was fairly common on the boats I was on.

As I said, this took the collusion of both the topside watch and the room watch (who would have been carrying the necessary keys to open the tube).

9/27/2007 10:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been a long time since I was shooting water slugs, but our tubes in 1975 were not padlocked. If the breech door was opened while in port (and hopefully on the surface :)), then it was not considered breaking "rig for dive".

Padlocked shut or not, I would never allow a tube to be fire without checking the contents first. It would take a direct order from the Weapons Officer (or higher), preferably a written order. The small amount of time spent in checking the tube is well worth the peace of mind.

Chief Torpedoman

9/28/2007 10:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting back to the original post, I just can't believe how stupid the CO was to have his crew inebriated like that and then try to hide it.

It doesn't mention what involvement the XO had in this matter. Being as how the fire started at about 2200, perhaps all but a couple of officers were still ashore. Still makes me wonder about the what the Chiefs were doing while this was going on.

Chief Torpedoman

9/28/2007 11:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The chief's last comment is right on. As a former CO of a SSBN, I have to onder how in the world the CO of a coveted command likw an Arleigh Burke DDG ever got there in the first place, if his actions that night are any indication of his qualifications for command, including his personal integrity as an officer.

9/28/2007 6:06 PM

Anonymous Sildenafil said...

in an occassion I was in a travel through Central America zone, I had to transpoted me from one coast to other, in a moment of travel I felt very thirsty for the heat, in that moment I discover that it's true this, is a very bad idea drink in a boat.

3/11/2011 7:21 AM

Anonymous said...

Of course is not a good idea... i wonder who said the contrary... anyway i always tried to not get drunk in a ship because when i was 15 i did and i fall from the ship.

10/14/2011 2:17 PM


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