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The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The stinger strikes again!

I know I have spent plenty of time writing about outstanding Gunner's Mates that I have know, worked with, and held in high esteem. It might give you the idea that there are no less than outstanding Gunner's Mates that ever served in the U.S. Navy. We do screen our folks pretty well, but once in a while someone sneaks through. Not that that person is a bad person, or does not try to be all that he can be. I just had to borrow that from our Army brothers. But some folks just don't have the nerve to be in a gun mount or turret that is ready to blow up. I am not being too dramatic here. But it is a fact. One such Gunner's Mate was on a two gun DDG, with MK 42 Mod 7 gun mounts, during the Viet Nam war. His ship was providing naval gun fire support for the troops on the beach, and during that firing, Mount 51 had a foul bore. The gun would not fire. Now let me break in here and explain the MK 42 gun loading system. It was a fully automatic, hydraulically operated, electrically controlled, loading system. Designed to shoot 40 rounds per minute of 5"/54 ammo from a single barrel. It used a two sided gun loading system. everything was electrically interlocked to ensure that everything was in it's place before the next step happened. A pretty neat design if you remember that the gun is cycling at 40 rounds per minute! Again, that's moving a 75 pound projectile and a 44 pound powder charge, projectile stacked on top of the powder, a total of 119 pounds, at a rate of 40 rounds per minute. At this time in the gun's evolution, there was no solid state switching, no circuit cards. The gun loading system used 1492, 115 volt AC, micro switches to monitor the position of every component in the gun loading system. If you were on a MK 42 Mod 1-6 gun mount on an aircraft carrier like the USS Constellation of the USS Kitty Hawk, you had 1496, 115 volt AC micro switches, because they has "Anti-Chucker" Pawls. Someday I will tell you what they were for.

In any case. Mount 51 had a foul bore. Hot gun or Cold gun, I don't know. But instead of checking where the equipment was, and trying to find out why the gun did not fire, this NERVOUS Gunner's Mate used the Stinger to fire the gun and clear the bore. His real problem was that the right transfer tray did not come up and therefore was in the way of the recoiling mass of the gun housing. You guessed it. He turned the right transfer tray, the empty case tray, and most of the components mounted in the slide to scrap metal. One gun down! Not to worry, the ship can continue their mission, they have Mount 52.

Late that same day, the same NERVOUS Gunner's Mate was in mount 52 as the Mount Captain, shooting naval gun fire support. They experienced another foul bore. And this NERVOUS Nellie grabbed the stinger and ..You guessed it. Folded another transfer tray into scrap metal.

Now both times it was the right transfer tray. Which, if you have been in a MK 42 Mod 7 gun mount should cause you to wonder about his competence, since the stinger was on the right cradle guide arc, and you have to lean over the right side of the gun to "sting" the firing pin. I guess he thought it was nice to have all the room, with the transfer tray being down and all.

But it gets better. Later, in the Navy's infinite wisdom, this NERVOUS Gunner's Mate was sent to Great Lakes as a MK 42 "C" School instructor!! He did decide to leave the active component of the Navy and join the reserves. I'll bet there were plenty of MK 42 Mod 1-8 gun mount that breathed a sigh of relief.

Note; It amazes me how I can remember so much about things 30 or 40 years ago, but I can't remember what I had for breakfast. Well, it give me comfort and joy to share these stories with you, while I still can. You should see the smile on my face right now.

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