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, February 04, 2010

Duty Van Breakdowns

A reader sent in a picture of the Pasadena's duty van broken down on the side of the road yesterday outside of West Loch:

My best story involving a duty van was previously recounted here. Do you have any good stories about trying to get out to (or back from) liberty?


Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

My favorite story was about the "Guam Bomb" over on the EM-Log. I do miss the updates!!

FWIW, we never pulled into anywhere long enough for the duty van to have broken down on us.

2/04/2010 7:25 AM

Blogger Jon said...

I just remember using the duty van to take confidential material from the Arkansas archives when we were in decom from PSNS down to the burn building at Ft. Lewis. That was a really nice job, because it got me off base for half the day.

2/04/2010 7:40 AM

Blogger The Navy Christian said...

I was in a duty van for liberty on Guam a few months back and we got stopped by the gate guard going on to Big Navy. Turns out, our driver (from my ship) was driving with an expired license.

"Sorry guys," said the gate guard. "You all need to walk from here!" Bastard was smiling too.

2/04/2010 8:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me begin by saying I do not condone any of the following actions. It's a long way from the clubs of Kings Bay to the boats. After a night of drinking, we wandered around the parking lot looking for a ride. I found a Navy van with the keys in it, so off we went. I managed to avoid hitting the deer and the aligators crossing the road. We parked the van in a different boat's parking area and walked down the pier to our boat. Now, please, never drink to excess during a period when you are fixing a submarine, but if you do drink, never drink and drive, but if your judgment is so impaired as to make the mistake of driving in this condition, never steal a Navy van, but if you do steal a Navy van, don't get caught and be sure to sleep it off before reporting for duty the next day. Whew...

2/04/2010 8:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stopped in Guam after 60 plus days at sea on 677 (either Westpac of 78 or 80-81) I had the opportunity to be the duty driver of a 35 foot bus. It was a rolling party on wheels! Going from one bar to another in Agana picking up and dropping off crew members along the way. They let me drive even though I was the sole radioman in the watch section. What a blast!


2/04/2010 8:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its nice to see that fine looking group of soldiers helping the sailors out. Probably not to many sailors who can fix an internal combustion engine on those nuclear boats.

2/04/2010 8:26 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Tied up in Nawiliwili Kauai. Had relieved as XO the previous day. Call at 0600 from Lihui police: "Would you like to get your officer out of jail?"

"Why's he in jail?"

"Accident. He was driving a Navy carryall and hit another car."

"Who'd he hit?"

"Our dispatcher. She was on her way to work.

"Was she hurt?"

"She's in the hospital but just bruised and should be released later today."

I got the lieutenant bailed out, sorted out the story (maybe drinking but no proof - had been returning from driving the old XO back to his hotel; definitely drinking). Talked to the police about squaring this without needing to appear in court and we worked out a way. Told the lieutenant to take a week's leave, stay in Kauai, get square with Barking Sands who had loaned us the vehicle, get square with the dispatcher, the police, and the court, and meet us in Kailua Maui at week's end, all on his personal dime.

He did so. Was the end of such troubles on the boat, except of course the brawl on the pier at Maui and the come-around I had with the Squadron commodore embarked in the ASR serving as our fender at the pier (CO MIA until this got squared away). First time I met Jerry Holland. Fan for life. A gentleman: "Is everything sorted out, XO?" "Yes." "Thank you."

2/04/2010 8:45 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

One more comment on the Hawaii incident(s). In both cases I was on the phone immediately with the TYCOM JAG, an LCDR, who blessed the approach I took in each case. Any CO or XO in this kind of situation: use the JAG available.

JAG went on to become Secretary of the Navy. Larry Garrett. Certified good guy.

2/04/2010 8:54 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I was "fortunate" enough to visit Naples twice in my career. I categorize the two visits as "Pre-Humpty-Dumpty" and "Post Humpty-Dumpty". As I understand it, Humpty Dumpty was a professional lady who patrolled the area between AFSOUTH and NSA Agnano. She was heralded as a maestro of the same technique that Good CAPT Little of NWS Charleston was seeking out, but I have no personal experience. The second visit I made, she was no longer there, I can only assume that after thousands of virtuoso performances, she retired. (But, I digress).

The duty van we were assigned was a rental Renault Espace, a smallish mini-van that held about 12 sailors at a time. Huge capacity in a small package. Several of us were loaded into said van for the first trip to NSA, so we could hit the NEX, eat a burger, make a phone call, etc..

As we were leaving the Mollo and entering the lovely Naples traffic, our DV driver mis-interpreted the space neccessary to clear the ornate stone gate and proceeded to ram the side of the Duty Van into the gate. The force of his blow was enough to cave in the side of the van, and cause the sliding door to jam. Several of us had to exit via the front door and literally drag the door open, working it enough to allow entry/egress. For the remainder of the 5 days we were there, the van was parked such that the damaged side was not visible from the boat, and amazingly, the COB, XO or CO never noticed (of course, they had their own transportation). It was not until we departed Naples that the full story came out, in the form of a "Personal For" message to the CO from COMSUBRU Eight. He was not amused.

2/04/2010 9:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite use of the "duty van" was when I was at Squadron while my boat was on the second half of West Pac. My "job" each day was to drive the van to the on base car wash and wash the van. That's it - day over.

2/04/2010 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Annon @ 8:26,

Those are Sailors, not Soldiers.

Nice Picture CS1 Poole!

2/04/2010 10:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those guys are Sailors??!! Damn, what's this world coming to??!! Next thing you know they'll be augmenting Sailors to the Army for duty in the desert!

2/04/2010 11:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

remember the "duty vans" in Rota, mid 70s? We called them cattle carts. They reminded me of the carrages that take you from the parking lot to the gates at Disneyland, only grey and covered in drunk sailor puke......


2/04/2010 11:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy in the photo looks like he's just pulled the dip stick out. My guess is he's an A-Ganger.

Son of Mulligan

2/04/2010 11:39 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Could hardly see those guys - geez that camouflage is effective. Fashion wins wars. Who cares that sailors look like dorks.

2/04/2010 11:43 AM

Blogger Lou said...

Would this be considered an "extended stop" and if so, would this be a violation of the NWU uniform policy?

One of my co-workers saw the NWU for the first time today and asked the poor sailor if he was in the Air Force? The sailor was not amused...

2/04/2010 11:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Westpac 79. I was one of the passengers. What a time!

Thus my duty van story.

CWO3 (ret)

2/04/2010 11:54 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Northern run in '06...had a couple of 12-15 passenger vans in Brest, France. Several trips around town and a few trips up to Normandy and back, and NONE of us zeroed in on the fact that those little white flashes were traffic-cams zapping pictures of speeders. Long story some point AFTER we left, the USDAO got a rather large (~$4000 sticks out in my head) bill from the rental company for all the unpaid speeding tickets which, of course, was forwarded to the ship. CHOP flips out and wants to take it out of MWR funds...COB tells him to stick it. To this day, I have no idea HOW that bill got paid.

Wasn't it the HGR that drove a van off the pier in Tromso (or Bergen?)?

2/04/2010 12:25 PM

Blogger Scott said...

The M-Div MMCS on my boat had a story and pictures of the duty van that he drove into the water when he was on seawolf. I wish I had the picture.

2/04/2010 1:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1976 we were doing a rocket launch (first genration Trident) at Port Canaveral as part of our post shipyard shakedown.

We were doing daily ops for the work up and since this was ENTIRELY a weapons dept evolution, us nukes got to have day trips to Disney World while the boat was out. Engineering had three sections qualified but went to sea P&S.

We had an Air Force short bus (go ahead, make cracks about nukes and the short bus) on loan from Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach.

Any way, we were on our return trip to the the boat, well into the mid watch. Everyone was sleeping except for the driver, me. At a secluded intersection, when the light turned green, I punched it. The bus lurched into the intersection and the engine blew. It rolled to a stop spewing engine coolant and oil and possibly transmission fluid.

After several hours or waiting, some poor no stripes airman arrived with another Air Force short bus and we were on our way.

I enjoyed that.


2/04/2010 2:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Port Canaveral, 739 Blue Crew DASO, 1993. Reported to boat as E-1 None-rate, 19 yrs old. Not qualified to stand watch yet, I got the job of duty driver. It was definately a job to look forward to. Every evening on my route were the strip bars, including Teasers. While in my dress uniform, I would get out of the van and walk in, the door guy would wave me through, and I would walk around looking for guys off the boat and asking them if they were ready to leave yet (there were ALWAYS guys there!). I would always take my time and be very methodical, even asking the guys getting lapdances if they were ready to go.

I went in one time and was questioned by a guy saying he was an Air Force officer, telling me it was inappropriate for me to be in there in my uniform. I respectfully told him I was on duty performing an official function, and told him to call the boat if he did not like it. Same night, another round through Teasers, the guy was still there, waived me over, and said I THOUGHT I told you to stay out of here. I told him again to call me command if it was that serious. Never heard anything about it.

2/04/2010 3:05 PM

Blogger Bearpaw said...

In St. Croix, we hijacked the duty Ford Fairmont wagon and took it 4 wheeling in the mountains. The local Rastas back off the beaten path were looking at us a little strange. We made sure we left our mark on it by sideswiping a couple yellow poles. Notso, Flange, Taco, Cho and myself had a blast. Returned it during a lull in the pier traffic and nobody was the wiser.

2/04/2010 3:07 PM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

San Jaun, PR and I was the DD and took the van and the rest of the Wardroom to the Black Angus. It is not a steakhouse in PR. Quite humorous to have the Navy Van sitting in that parking lot.

2/04/2010 4:13 PM

Anonymous Pops said...

It is too hard to figure out the seriousness of the breakdown with everyone wearing the NWU. Back when the Os and the chiefs wore kakhais, you could tell how serios it was just by the number of kakhis present.
One kakhai casuality or five Kakhais casuality, etc...

2/04/2010 4:56 PM

Blogger Patty Wayne said...

My boat was in shipyard at PSNS and we had qualified for small command flag football playoffs in Oak Harbor. The command had been actively involved in all of the intramural sports, allowing us time during duty days to go play games, swapping duty days, etc. When we made the playoffs we were granted the duty van and they managed to secure us housing at Whidbey.

In the last two games before the end of the season I pulled both ham strings so I had no reason to go. Fortunately for me. The van was used as a party van and the guys inside were BA'ing people and as it turned out one of those people was CO Whidbey Island NAS's wife. She got the license and van ID. It didn't take long to find the offenders.

Amazingly they let them play in the championship game the next day and we won. Mast came quickly for the driver and the senior guy in the van (MM1 nuke).

2/04/2010 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks to me like the guy with his arm up is saying "Here's your problem, the rubber band has come undone!"


2/04/2010 7:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

677 pulled into Vallejo in '88. There for a week. They put us up in some dumpy barracks, but it had showers so we were set. The command acquired a van to shuttle us around wherever we wanted to go running pretty much non-stop.

One evening a bunch of us were milling around waiting on a few others before the duty driver was to haul us around. We soon noticed that someone had vomited all over the cargo area of the van the night before. The following was the A-gang conversation witnessed:

MMFn: MM3, bet you won't eat a piece of that.

MM3: How much?

MMFn: $20

MM3: Let someone hold the money and you pick the chunk.

MMFn hands over the Jackson and picks the most disgusting morsel he could find.

MM3: Picks up the chunk, eyes it for a bit, then gobbles it up and gets his $20.

Numerous versions of "You are one sick MF" were heard for weeks.

2/04/2010 8:42 PM

Anonymous Former Squadron Rider said...

On the boat one night, up in the goat locker, about 2230 or so. Phone rings, I answer.
"Heyz Chief. Uh, thish izz the Chop."
"Do youz haff the Captain's shell phone number?"
"Uh, I can probably get it Chop. Why?"
"Uh, well they're putting the COB in the ambulance right now."
"Why are they putting the COB in the ambulance Chop?"
"Uh, well, see...he got thrown off the mechanical bull and caught one of the mounting bolts in the back."
"OK, Chop. Anything else?"
"Uh, yeah. The COB was our designated driver and the rest of us are pretty hammered."
"Ok. Do you need me to send the duty driver to pick you up."
"Well, no. No, that's a problem. See, the COB drove us out here in the duty van and it's parked right in front of the bar and, uh, I think we need to move it."

2/05/2010 12:39 AM

Anonymous ex-ET nuke said...

Heard about this when I got to the boat, so I can't verify the truth of it.

Boat pulls into Groton to get a new nose following an ice incident up north, so they get a duty van to haul guys to the barracks on upper base. Duty driver doesn't have a lisence, but doesn't tell anyone, and while heading up the hill to the barracks runs into the STOP sign in the middle of the road and rips up the trans and breaks the rear axle. Duty van was not replaced, and a lot of pissed sailors had to walk to/from the barracks for the duration.

2/05/2010 2:25 AM

Blogger Denis Kaufman said...

This does not involve a stolen duty van; rather a stolen local, privately owned boat.

At LaMaddalena in 1979, two sailor on the USS H. W. Gilmore were on liberty risk (meaning their ID cards were confiscated) and wanted to go ashore anyway. So they conceived plan. They wrapped the civvies in plastic bags and put them in garbage bags they took from the mess decks. Then, masquerading as mess-cooks, they carried them to the garbage barge. They were not checked for ID when they crossed the Quarterdeck (mess cooks seldom were). Once off the ship they changed clothes, boarded the liberty barge and headed for La Maddalena.

Once ashore they realized the flaw in their plan. They were able to get off the ship and onto the liberty barge with their ruse, but would not be able to get back on a barge, or certainly cross the quarterdeck.

Hence the stolen boat. The rest of the story is easier to imagine if you have been a drunk sailor. They stole a small row boat from the waterfront in Ka Maddalena and drove it across to Santo Stefano Island, around the tip of Santo Stefano and down the coast towards the Gilmore, with the intent to approach the anchor chain and climb up it to the bow (The Gilmore was med-moored).

Somewhere along the way they ran out of gas and had to row. They rowed as far as a fuel pier which was operated by the Italian Navy and festooned with signs that warned trespassers off with threats of deadly force, etc. As the approached the pier, they were hit with a spotlight, some commands in Italian which they ignored because they couldn't understand them, and then a few well placed rounds which sank the boat. The two sailors were not injured, but they were dunked in very cold water. The Italians plucked them out of the water, called the Gilmore, and warmed the two up with grappa.

The Italian Navy did not press charges. The sailors had to pay for the boat, and I am told the XO couldn't keep a straight face when they went to XO Mast.

2/05/2010 4:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Threads like this one are the reason I read this blog.

Brings back memories of being drunken passed out on the curb in front of the Dallas Lounge in Guam waiting for the duty van to take me back since I had run out of money, and nobody seemed to want to take my credit card for anything.

2/05/2010 5:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 5:56

Running out of cash on liberty is the worst...

2/05/2010 6:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

American Express-Don't leave home without it. Cashed out $500 in Pusan. Money well spent !!! Don't remember what the statement said, but no questions.
Gotta love it !


2/05/2010 9:24 AM

Blogger Denis Kaufman said...

By the way, love those uniforms in the picture. A friend calls them "James Bond Adversary Uniforms".

2/05/2010 1:01 PM

Blogger Bill Lapham said...

Who is the man in charge? The guy with his hands on his hips? The guy holding up the hood? The man working the casualty? Or is it the man in civilian clothes? It couldn't possibly anybody else; they're too distracted. Geez, this is a big problem!

2/05/2010 3:34 PM

Blogger DDM said...

We were in the PI and it was raining like a monsoon. The CO offered to let his driver take us to the Barrio. On the way there we passed the XO with a couple of other officers. Duty driver asked if he should stop. We told him since we didn't have room for everyone, not to stop. A few bars later we were in the car at a stop light right behind a Jeep-knee with XO sitting in the back, dripping wet. He was not pleased.

Then there was the time when our duty driver got brought back to the boat in handcuffs. Turns out he got a DUI.

2/05/2010 4:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duty van? You guys don't know how lucky you are. Ever wonder what it was like before duty vans?

How about a duty stake truck? That's what they gave us in Norfolk. Held about 18 standing and at least 5 recumbent sailors.

Weather cooperated until the base commander kicked us out. Seems we were getting too rowdy, or something. Imagine that!

SSN sailor

2/05/2010 4:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not the duty van but the base bus.
When La Jolla pulled into Rosy Rhodes there were two bus systems. The Base Bus and the SeaBee’s Bus.
We were across the pier from the Narwhal after midnight watching a movie when someone slamed down the ladder saying “Some SeaBee hit Toby in the face with a shovel”.
Two submarines were unloading on the pier and running for the head of it looking for the fight. It took some real cool heads to keep it from turning bad. As it was one of our Aganger punched the QMC in the face as the QMC was trying to pull him off of someone.
Turns out the drunk sailors got on the first bus they saw, the SeaBee Bus. That was not looked upon nicely by the SeaBees on the bus and they said something about bubbleheads and Toby said something about one of the SeaBees looking a lot like his son and wanted to know if his Mom remembered him and that started it.

To whomever mentioned Black Angus it Puerto Rico, I remember it well.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa.

2/05/2010 5:31 PM

Blogger Bearpaw said...

The Black was "off limits" for us. Uh, yeah!

2/05/2010 6:10 PM

Blogger SJV said...

Pulled into Rotterdam once. Duty van ran rented by boat ran on diesel fuel. It must have been some kind of super hybrid design, because somehow the boat never had to spend any money on fuel that port visit. Hauled us around a few at a time so we could go to the bars or the train station....where we could get on the train to Amsterdam and see the tulips.

2/05/2010 7:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pulled into Ford Island right after the bridge was built. It was so awesome not having to worry about catching the last Merry Pt. small boat or sleep on that bench waiting for it to start running the next day. Anyway, after a night of liberty in Waikiki the duty van picked up a bunch of us a we headed back to base. We ended up right begind another van (the supply van) right at the left turn to get onto the bridge. We (me and the other slightly intoxicated passangers) started razzing the driver a bit about how he couldn't "take" the other van before reaching the guard shack on the bridge and what a pu55y he was. Anyway, the driver, who was a member of my division who will remain nameless took the challange. We freaking squeeled away from the light headed across the bridge and got around the other van and were able to stop BEFORE the guard shack. The guard, a E-5 was not impressed with our E-4's driving ability. So much so that he detained our party of three E-6's and three E-7's while he read our driver the riot act. All in fun we got behind the responsible E-5's assesment and told our driver that he should be more careful (unable to keep a straight face) and that we would deal with it on the ship. The dutiful E-5 was very professional and released us so we could get back to the ship (figuring that was probably the best place for us). We all got back, had some hot pockets and laughed our asses off while braggin about being the first people to ever drag race across the new Ford Island bridge.

2/05/2010 9:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on the Pasadena and help us all if the guy in civilian clothes is in charge, he shouldn't be in charge of anything. The guy checking the dipstick is an LS and in my opinion it was all staged so they could stop for breakfast, show up late and not get in trouble.

2/06/2010 5:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an officer posted that last comment. Eng is that you?

2/07/2010 6:18 PM

Anonymous ET2/SS (Nav) said...

The Mighty Monty was in Faslane Scotland, halfway through her first nothern run, and are only 2 duty vans are sent to the airport to pick up the second half guys. Both duty drivers allow one of the second half guys to drive back. With both duty vans get back they are dented all to hell, with smashed in fenders and doors. Both second half guys couldn't figure out how to drive on the other side of the road. I forget how long we didn't have the vans, but atleast the bar on base was within walking distance.

2/08/2010 12:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymou at 2/05/2010 9:26 PM,

The duty driver was my QM3 and I was his QMC. And your right, one minute it was "Gookin, faster, faster" and the next minute it was "Gookin, I told you to slow down"!


And for the record DDM, I did a 3-year shore tour as an MP in Subic Bay and never saw a stoplight out in town.

2/10/2010 10:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Duty van brokedown on me mid way through a fried rice omelet sitting in the PHNSY parking lot. Damn those things were good.

2/22/2010 7:49 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Well, there was the one time on lower base in Bangor (we were there for DNP workup) when the YN3 duty driver was being a smartass thinking he was going to bag ass as I was trying to catch the van back to the barracks. Of course, he was so fixated on screwing me over he didn't see the forklift right behind the van. Whoops.

2/24/2010 10:39 AM

Anonymous Port Canaveral Transportation said...

Such a nice post i love it.

5/20/2011 8:04 AM


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