An Oldie But A Goodie
As I'm sitting here working on a long "philosophical" post (and wondering when I'll get time to write a post about the latest news items about Iranian submarines, here and here) I was going through some older posts to link back to, and I ran across this one I wrote in June 2005 that I really liked. So, since I don't have any new content ready to post tonight, you get to read this old sea story (updated for clarity and new link):
So there I was... standing Officer of the Deck on USS Topeka (SSN-754) the day after we finished a port visit in Phuket, Thailand, just before Christmas 1992. Seems the off-duty portion of the crew was hanging out in Crew's Mess, swapping liberty stories. Someone mentioned all the monkeys that the various vendors had to draw attention to their wares, and one of the Nuke electricians said something along the lines of, "Yeah, and they had really sharp teeth." The Doc was listening in on this shoot-the-sh*t, and grabbed the guy, verified that he had been bitten by a monkey, and went to see the CO. About five minutes later I get a buzz on the Conn: "Make preps to come to PD and establish comms with SubGroup Seven."
You see, our Doc had warned us during the pre-liberty briefings to avoid the wildlife, since rabies was a problem in Thailand. Next thing we knew, we got new water to head towards Diego Garcia; the USS Ranger, the flagship of our Battle Group (which was heading towards Australia after supporting our initial landing in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope) was the nearest source of rabies vaccine; they flew an S-3 to DiGar to deliver it.
We did the PERSTRANS, dropping off our potentially rabid nuke, along with one other crew member. (He had joined the boat in Bahrain about a month earlier, and apparently decided that submarine life wasn't for him; he had chosen to use the excuse that got a guy out of the Navy faster than anything else... you military guys out there all know what I mean...)
Anyway, it looked like we were down one throttleman for our upcoming end of deployment ORSE. I remember talking with my watch section about the potential pros and cons of having a rabid member of the Maneuvering watch team. On the plus side, some casualties would become non-events: "These throttles aren't stuck!" he'd shout, as he used his superhuman strength to overcome whatever resistance to throttle motion the drill monitor at the Aux SPCP could provide. On the other hand, I could just imagine the kind of comments we'd get: "Training value was lost when an obviously rabid Throttleman (TH) became enraged when the Engineering Laboratory Technician (ELT) brought a bottle of water into Maneuvering. Additionally, the same rabid Throttleman attempted to bite the Board members, contrary to Paragraph B.2 of the ORSE Precepts Letter."
Our lesson learned from the whole situation: Don't let Thai monkeys bite you -- unless you want to spend a month at home in San Diego with your family while your shipmates are out doing an ORSE workup.
(Epilogue: The guy ended up rejoining us in Pearl, and rode us for the last week of the deployment; we used him as a drill monitor. We kicked ass on the ORSE.)