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.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Midwatch BS Sessions

Back when I was Eng, I always had to go along with the idea that the best use of your time on the midwatch was for watchsection training -- everyone remembers the EOOW or DOOW monotonously reading from procedures to his captive audience. From the safe distance of retirement, however, I can admit that I always hated that. I much preferred the free-wheeling discussions that would often break out -- whether it was debating about religion and the nature of life, or coming up with "name all things on the boat that have nicknames that are animals", like "white rat". There was something about being in the middle of the ocean, under several hundred feet of water, that seemed to be conducive to deep conversation.

What were your favorite midwatch discussion topics?


Anonymous hamptonplankowner said...

I never remember any midwatch training but i was a mm out running around the engineroom the best discussions were inport between roving watch and the sro, i seem to remember lots of talk about life after the navy and how our chiefs had no backbones im sure this will be a good topic

2/22/2010 5:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

guys dont know what era you guys are BS'n about but I can tell you that on state pier in the earlier 80's it was all about gettin sweet buds. Wether from Mitchell college or U Conn. Purple Haze was all the rage....... Perhaps most on this thread drank the juice and believe that the weirdos that acted like likme homos where not.... Any hoos thank God for the AMERICAN way of working hard and not being in uniform that has propelled the US................ Not the nerdy Academy kid that was hugged more tightly from dad than from MOm.................

2/22/2010 5:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WRT chiefs having no backbone, I once told the M Div chief (I was an EM) that, to regain his self-respect, he'd have to suck-off a herd of goats upon his retirement. He didn't like that one bit. The RO and throttleman howled hysterically.

2/22/2010 5:34 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

I always did the training while the guys were fresh on mid-watch, right after settling in (maybe an hour in). Kept the book out & open to the last topic covered throughout the BS sessions so if/when someone came in (XO/CO/etc) I could immediately re-direct the conversation back to training.

Then we'd knock out any midnight routine stuff (PMS, slide updates, CONO, etc) so we didn't forget it.

That still left 3+ hours of prime discussion time. PD trips and/or mission activity/high contact density & I'd put the kabosh on the BS session.

Popular topics (no surprise):
Pre-service illicit substance use
Name game (bands/artists/actors/movies/etc).

Bitching about the boat or people on it wasn't allowed by me but it happened. If it continued after my warning we'd go back to training. I always said they could bitch, they just couldn't do it on watch - if they wanted to it had to happen on their time.

I also made politics & religion debates verboten, though general discussion was permitted as long as it was friendly (during holiday times for example). I've seen watch sections & relationships ruined from what was supposed to be a healthy debate ended up getting too personal.

On the other hand...
Vicious debates about car manufacturers, sports teams, and girls were also sure to make the watch fly by.

2/22/2010 5:59 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

movie game, name one movie, next guy uses last letter.

Then, one time, during rod testing, the EOOW and I were doing a full recitation of a Monty Python movie...and after half were done found a switch out of position.

Never did that again.

I quit talking about movies when the helmsman said, "My parents hadn't met when Return of the Jedi was released."

While in command I listened on the open mic to all conversations...and never said anything until they were clearly distracted. Awake was best. And we never hit an amphib.

2/22/2010 6:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Will it staple?" always did.

2/22/2010 6:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember we'd play a word guessing game out of the dictionary in Maneuvering (SSN-680). Somebody'd read the definition and we'd try and guess the word. There'd be 6 of us crowded around taking turns guessing. When the Engineer came back and got all pissy about "Non-Tech Manuals in the Engineering Spaces", one of our ROs (you out there DC?) wrote "Word Tech Manual" on the dictionary. My first ENG thought that was funny. It sent the second ENG into orbit, but that's another story.....

2/22/2010 6:28 PM

Blogger DDM said...

On my first boat we once were reading a FLASH when the EWS (an ETCS) came to maneuvering for the EOOW tour. We asked him a question about one of the articles and he proceeded to rip our asses for reading non-nuclear power related material on watch (in a rare gesture of respect, we didn't point out that the article was in the required reading binder).

Flash Forward to next watch when he came in with some evals he was working on. So we asked him what the difference between reading a Flash and working on evals. We get another blast of sh*t so we decide to not speak at all unless required by our duties as watchstanders. Every 15 minutes we would stand up for the RO to take some readings and we would all stand for the hourlies, then sit down in unison when we finished. On the fourth watch of this; for no apparent reason, ETCS just exploded. I honestly thought he might give himself a heart attack he was so upset. We got along pretty well after that.

Later we got a "fast attack tough" EM1 who taught us about the game Pig and Bull. Spent a few mid-watches playing that. The EM1 was really good at it, kinda like Rainman would be.

2/22/2010 6:39 PM

Anonymous laughter in manslaughter said...

Ah, Pigs and Bulls, I miss that game =) I remember we had an EOOW pass out on the firt midwatch, so the EO and the TH opened the door, slipped out and the RO ducked in front of the EOOW desk. Then he cutout the Scram alarm, hit the alarm siren and ducked back down. I have never seen anyone jump that high.

2/22/2010 6:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forward guys had less unmonitored time while on duty. Consequently, we stood midwatches without the apparent abandonment and joys of our nuc shipmates.

We never discussed booze, broads or betting, played word games or engaged in religious piety.

Of course, we had enough to do without becoming bored. Somehow you nucs did a good job despite your innate depravity, submergence into the depths of inattentiveness, and oh, sh__!.

Talk about inattentiveness, I just popped a dog treat from my pocket into my mouth instead of a lemon drop. Ever wonder how good dog treats are? - Rex

2/22/2010 6:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one thing with midwatch that never gets boring is the validity and depth of our conversations in order to pass the time.

Football, Baseball, and Hockey stats have always been popular. Most of us can go round & round on this one in some fairly heated discussions.

Cars, I do and always will defend Ford trucks and Mustangs.
That certain item called PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE seems to help out in life.

Girls, It's always fun to explain to a NUB why a redhead isn't always a true redhead...Same situation with a blond. Sometimes it becomes necessary to explain to the younglings why the drapes don't always match the carpet down below.

Guns (Small arms) Why is Beretta better than Colt? Colt made it through three wars, but the stats for Beretta show most guys are able to shoot straighter with a M9 rather than a 1911A1. Simple ballistics can will side with Beretta. Yes I am a Colt man, but Beretta has gotten fairly serious in recent years.

Uniforms, Why the hell can't we go with a two piece Poopie suit? The damned Coast Guard does it...why the hell can't we??? They can wear theirs in public, why the hell can't we???

Politics & Religion, umm...I'll leave those alone. All we end up doing is pissing each other off on those two topics. Plus, both of them bore me considerably so I keep my distance.

History, why did we allow Russia to own the eastern half of Germany in 1945? We would not have allowed them to be involved in the invasion of Japan if we'd not dropped in on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Anyway, these are some of the heavy topics and vastly important discussions I've found myself involved in more than once in life while passing the time and waiting to be relieved. Does this attribute make us a Think Tank worthy of national attention and consideration? No I didn't think so either...Lol. But it is a nice way to pass the time on occasion.

MT1(SS) WidgetHead

2/22/2010 7:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed catching a couple of Zzzs as the SRO on the midwatch only to be rudely awakened by a system low pressure alarm after my PZR heaters tripped on me.

2/22/2010 7:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's pigs and bulls?

2/22/2010 7:55 PM

Blogger reddog said...

Inventing different rationalizations that the Welfare and Rec committee or the Nav could use to hire a few prostitutes aboard for long deployments, keeping in mind that WWII boats often went on patrol with "laundresses" aboard.

I liked fresh water conservation technicians, who would get in the shower with you, scrub you down and rinse you off, with a bucket and sponge, using no more than two gallons total. Paid for by the Nav, of course.

Good personal hygiene and extreme water conservation. Operationally sound, politically correct and cost effective and very discreet. Sailors that wanted their pipes cleaned need only ask, those that didn't could just enjoy a good bath. No one need ever know who was which.

Who has a better idea?

2/22/2010 8:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We would draw pictures of our wives/girlfriends/whores (most of the time, they were one in the same) vaginas on the Sunday midwatch every week. The COW would collect and hold them.

It was amazing to see the differences in drawings after the 10th week at sea.

Most conversations would always turn to sex, no matter how ugly, fat, old or young the "ladies" were.

In the control room, we kept a red and green velcro'd dot near the open mic. Red for no-go and green for go.

Of course, the midwatch was the time for the roving watchstanders to bring freshly baked snacks to the watchstanders.

Also pictures of an empty control room with clock and other identifying sources of time. Watchsections would compete on where the best places to gather the whole watchteam in a picture. On a Trident, we had the entire control room, AEF/AOW, TMOW and Sonar watch teams in Nav Center with the door shut, eating a cake so graciously provided by the midnight baker.

The midwatch cowboy OOD had to be a team player or he usually wouldn't last long.

2/22/2010 9:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you remember those topside midwatches? All alone, colder than a witches t#@...sitting over the weapons shipping hatch from time to time to keep warm even though you had full on green foul weather gear, wintertime in San Diego...


2/22/2010 9:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


No laundresses onboard WWII boats--period. On the other hand fairly common for ladies to stay aboard smoke boats in out of the way liberty ports like Nawilliwilli Kauai, Keelung Taiwan, and Papeete Tahiti. Great liberty, no security issues with Fairbanks Morse Diesels and Exide Batteries. In fact the girls used to run drinks back to the charging engineman and electricians in maneuvering. Lots of hookie-dookie in after battery.

Smoke boats crews were pretty thin on surface where we spent most of time. Control had COW Forward EM and AUX of watch. Conning tower was helmsman and QMOW. Couldn't hear anything in enginerooms with engines running, and just senior and junior controllermen in maneuvering. One TM on watch in both Torpedo rooms. Bridge had OOD and two lookouts with lookout positions aft of bridge. With only 65 EM, 8 CPO's, and 8 O-gang, not a lot of time to have mid watch BS.

On smoke boat spec ops, focus throughout ship was on mission. Snorkel time to charge batteries at night lot of attention paid to avoiding detection.

BS sessions more common on inport duty nights and ashore at boats "watering hole" Sonny's Rialto Bar on Hotel Street in Honolulu when I was on SS-348 and the OLD Oceans' Eleven at Makalapa when I was TMC on SS-580 in early 70's.

The best of times for sure............

Keep a zero bubble


2/22/2010 9:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the usual midwatch OOD late in my JO tour, I played a lot of Hangman and "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" with the Ship's Control Party. I connected our COW (the TMC) to Don Knotts in five moves (the TMC was an extra in "Pearl Harbor"). And there were plenty of conversations about who knows what with the QMOW.

Back aft, one of the EO's actually had a stack of Trivial Pursuit cards that the EOOW's would turn over to each other at the end of watch, and then ask the questions to anyone in Maneuvering during downtime. And then of course there were the political discussions, and the usual griping about the CO/XO/COB.

2/22/2010 11:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a JO on a 688 in the late 80's. Back then the fire control system had a crude mapping overlay program (think Google Earth, but using "Pong" technology). To reposition the cursor, we would have to twist the vertical and horizontal knobs, and then wait for the map to redraw.

During midwatch submerged transits, to overcome the boredom, we'd play "world golf" on the fire control system, where the challenges would be things like: get from our current position in the Atlantic to Hawaii, in four redraws (making it a par 4).

2/22/2010 11:33 PM

Blogger DDM said...

"What's pigs and bulls?"

Each guy picks a four digit number using 0-9 with no duplicate numbers. Try to guess each others numbers in the least amount of guesses. A correct number in the correct position is a Pig. A correct numer in the incorrect position is a bull. For example, my number is 1234. You guess 1749. You got 1 Pig and 1 Bull.

2/23/2010 3:03 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

We would invent new derivitives of "What Would Chuck Norris Do". On occasion, as DOOW, I would give the order to "Ingest 5". COW would casually say "Chuck Norris doesn't ingest, he urinates into Depth Control." Stupid sh1t like that. We would also replace "Chuck Norris Facts" with those of other boat figures (For example, "ANAV Facts"). Making up new songs was always a biggie. Think Black-Eyed Peas: "No no no noooo, don't funk with my charts", or Toby Keith: "Ooh ooh ooh, I love these charts." Yeah, more stupid sh1t! Then there was, of course, hearing a "Snoop Dogg" radar over the early warning receiver (Think George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" here). Loved a good midwatch, but have no wish to relive them!

2/23/2010 3:07 AM

Anonymous Rob-Natty said...

Who would win in a fight, a Zuni Bear or a Unicorn?

There are 2 RC ETs on my boat that have's of a Zuni Bear (Look it up) and the other has his college frat's crest which has a unicorn on it. Both a point of mocking and ridicule, but the answer that came best was from the guy with the unicorn tattoo...

"Unicorns would totally kick a Zuni Bear's ass. Everyone knows Zuni Bears don't exist."

2/23/2010 3:10 AM

Anonymous AC said...

In maneuvering, the longer a watch or series of watches goes on without a casualty or significant event, the probability of the conversation turning to buttsex approaches 1.

Adding to what reddog said, we came up with how to "integrate" prostitutes in the Navy- we came up with something like this: whore would become a new rate (let's say WH)- each boat would have about 9 WHs (say an WH1 as LPO, 2 WH2s, 4 WH3s, and 2 WHSNs). Each QUALIFIED crewmember gets one "session" with a WH each week (each WH will have to deal with 1 or 2 sailors each day)- extra sessions could be used as motivations for various kinds of good performance, and you could lose your session for a week or more as a punishment at Captain's Mast. It would also provide some extra motivation to nonquals to get theirselves in gear.

Undoubtedly some WHs would be more in demand than others, so perhaps the "sessions" could be required to occur in a dark space, or the sailor is blindfolded...

We had a few variations on this idea, but it was a popular topic.

2/23/2010 6:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what the designator would be for the "WH" rating....

2/23/2010 7:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't realize you had time for shooting the shit since the EDG and battery were so screwed up all the time...

2/23/2010 7:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Midwatch? What's that?

RP, HMCM(SS) Retired

p.s. Just kidding.. that's when I'd do my water testing and hear all those stories.

2/23/2010 8:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'd harass the messenger every time he came back to the engineroom. We'd just ask him a series of leading questions. The first question seemed sexually innocuous all the way to the point where we'd get him to admit that it's OK to suck another dude off and not be gay. At which point we'd call the COW and tell him that his messenger doesn't have a problem in personally sucking some dude off.

2/23/2010 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with sucking some dude off?


2/23/2010 11:29 AM

Anonymous AC said...

Nothing's morally wrong with sucking some dude off, anonymous, but in such a male dominated, machismo driven culture as the submarine world, a young man will likely be mocked if it is said that he likes to suck off dudes.

2/23/2010 12:37 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

... or he just might be an RO!

2/23/2010 2:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best midwatch BS sessions on my boat were in the Torpedo Room. I was fortunate to be one of four qualified "Room" watchstanders. We were in 4 section my last two patrols, and I had the mid.

There always seemed to be at least a couple of off watch guys hanging around. We'd sit along the raised deck, port and starbord of the center aisle (634 boat). Danny Lacasse, Wolffy, Hick, Charlie Dahl, Al Armstrong, and even a few JOs.

The topics (how attractive an ugly girl could be on first liberty) were the same as those mentioned above. The tricks played on the night baker in order to swipe a pan of sticky buns were the same as those played on a thousand midwatches on every boat that ever intentionally submerged. The BS and the trickery made the time pass a bit easier.

And Mulligan probably did suck off a few guys, but not in the room while I had the watch.

2/23/2010 2:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Midwatch BS sessions about to become much more PC

2/23/2010 2:55 PM

Blogger SJV said...

It doesn't make you gay when you're in international waters. DUH!! I thought it was on the MOOW qual card anyway. Graded by the ST's. Some guys had to practice...a lot.

2/23/2010 2:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some years ago when standing OOD, I had an MM3 who sat the sticks. He really couldn't help himself but every conversation was rapidly turned by him into something being stuck in someone's ass. It was really an amazing ability that would make me blush before I or the DOOW told him to shut up (turned out to be a full time job keeping him quiet). Although a pain in the ass (pun intended) he really was the guy you wanted on the sticks when in a tight place.

Fast forward sometime post- deployment. He sees me walking down the pier a runs over to introduce his new fiancee. God help me, I tired to be good, but could stop my mind from reaching down into the gutters of those overheard midwatch conversations....

2/23/2010 3:35 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Anon @ 0912 sez: "At which point we'd call the COW and tell him that his messenger doesn't have a problem in personally sucking some dude off."

Yeah, that's gonna be a hoot the first time Suzy Non-Qual comes back aft.

As for us, it was either, "Who would you rather do" or, (dating myself here) what cities would you nuke with the TLAM-N's, and whose wife would be the first Westpac Widow to get caught (M-Div chief was one 'Pac.) Those seemed to be a couple of the more popular ones, along with the usual who's going where on the next Westpac port visit.

2/24/2010 9:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's this "Open Mic" bullshit? Were there microphones throughout the boat that the CO could selectively tap into? This sounds like "Big Brother" stuff. If the boats I served on in the 70s had open mics, I was totally unaware...

2/24/2010 11:30 AM

Anonymous LT L said...

Fast forward sometime post- deployment. He sees me walking down the pier a runs over to introduce his new fiancee. God help me, I tired to be good, but could stop my mind from reaching down into the gutters of those overheard midwatch conversations....

I had a throttleman who talked non-stop about giving his wife the hot-hard-one in the poop-chute; so much it really was the only thing we knew about his wife. It was a very awkward ship's picnic.


2/24/2010 4:15 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

What's this "Open Mic" bullshit? Were there microphones throughout the boat that the CO could selectively tap into? This sounds like "Big Brother" stuff. If the boats I served on in the 70s had open mics, I was totally unaware...
The open mic allows the CO to hear conversations going on in Control (& any MC announcements also heard in Control) when he's in the Wardroom or COSR. Sound quality varies depending on the position of the mic (basically a regular microphone left on hanging in the overhead on the CONN) & operations in progress, but it gives him the opportunity to realize things are going well (or badly) without actually being in Control. The Control open mic also allows the OOD to speak with Sonar & Radio while on the scope w/o having to grab a mic, because he can just loudly acknowledge or request information without pausing in the dark.

It used to be the Control open mic was only on during certain evolutions (like at PD), but more and more it is left on at all times (the same way Sonar's open mic is always recording in the shack). Control open mic is generally not recorded (except as ambient noise heard 2nd hand through the Sonar open mic).

A new system (forget what it is called) being tested (in place already on some skimmers) as a CNO project also allows any of ~15 stations to monitor any circuit (JA/2JV, etc) or act as an open mic. GREENEVILLE has it now.

Each station has a handset & a speaker, so they double as a usable phone in port (very handy, though the lines are in more use since there are more phones to use)
or as a monitoring/communication station of its own. Circuits can even be cross-connected, so you could listen to the JA/2JV/X1J on speaker from Sonar, TR, , Goatlocker, WR, or anywhere else there is a station. Made informal communications over phone circuits very easy to be corrected, and gave the crew alot more flexibility (primarily forward, can't remember very many stations aft) in doing things. A mixed blessing, the benefits outweighed the 'big brother' drawbacks in my opinion. The stations are programmable, which gives the system the capability of using any of them to serve as a 1/2/7/27/etc MC.

2/25/2010 7:07 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

LtL--imagine the EO talking about shaving his wife downstairs and after we get back, she can't figure out why everyone is going, "Chi-Chi-Chi-CHIA PET!!!"

2/25/2010 7:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deepest mid-watch conversation? Ever?

Easy. It was a major philosophical convesation: could, or could not, the Electrical Operator get a Coke can inside his mouth without crushing it in some way in order to make it fit?

We debated this for some time, and I'll admit I was much in doubt...but he did it.

Now, not fully, mind you...but well over half-way. And dhat met the success criterion.

2/26/2010 8:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW great topic. Brings back alot of BS Sessions.

One was outdoing a topper. No matter what, he had a better story. One STS1 told him about how he gave it to his wife in the butt with no lube right after getting back from deployment (of course made up). Of course topper came up with a better one. He tried the wife butt thing an needless to say, he was sleeping on the boat on non duty days for a while!
Others were the typical topics. We did one on the 718 of who could eat the nastiest stuff on board and have the nastiest farts... As the sup, I had all my guys wearing EABs the next midwatch. When the CO thru the curtain open and the "aroma" hit his ol'factory senses, he said I was disgusting and closed it up. Later I went crop dusting in control!
In port, Friday or Saturday duty days standing the midwatch. Great conversations! Liek said before, love the memories, but I have no desire to stand another midwatch.


P.S. - I have learned the difference between the civilian world and military. No one talks in the bathroom!

2/27/2010 7:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the largest animal a man could kill with his bare hands? We drew the line at cow.

2/28/2010 5:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our midwatches in the Sonar shack of a Sturgeon class stretch were generally disturbing. We would discuss beating off and civilian life. If there was a nub on watch, we would quickly determine what topic bothered him the most and then discuss it at length for the entire 6 hours. Sometime's we would start getting those "tired chubbies". When you get a hard on for no apparent reason other than you are physically and emotionally exhausted from the days events, similar to a "wake up woody". When you got a tired chubbie, you would raise your right hand. If two or more hands went up, then we had a chubbie measurement contest. We would take the Sonar Chief's aluminum ruler to the back of the shack and proudly announce the length. This usually followed with at least two hours of discussion about whether you should measure from scrotum, or center ball or ????

2/28/2010 8:23 AM

Anonymous Squidward said...

{If two or more hands went up, then we had a VAGINA measurement contest.}

There, fixed it for you. You are talking about sonar, yes?

3/01/2010 12:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is prudent that while the open mic is on to NEVER discuss the CO's daughter's relationship with any crewmember. Especially regarding a JO dumb enough to date her.

3/02/2010 6:24 AM

Blogger Old Salt said...

One previous boat we went up and over the North Pole. Sometime in the middle, the cooks ran out of butter. After that, we decided that if we were to run out of food, we had better have a list of who to eat first based on size and relative watchbill worth. We would then tell people who entered maneuvering where they shook out on the list...

3/02/2010 5:47 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

Hey Anon 2/22 @ 5:34pm... I remember an EM1 telling the M-div Chief... Were you ever on USS Drum?

3/02/2010 5:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The topside watches in Norfolk at midnight on the submarine piers used to have contests throwing the old Navy (spill line cups) at Jellyfish and the MSs and Chop never seemed to figure out why so many would disappear. There were more jellyfish than available cups.

Also, we had an RO who had been disqualled and put in a holding pattern and they had him standing sentry. One midwatch he was climbing the sail external ladder (637 class) and his shotgun failed the float test after it slipped off his shoulder into the drink. The divers went in the water in the AM to locate the shotgun.

3/02/2010 7:10 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home