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

Friday, June 5, 2009

We have to get this one over the side!

Late in my first tour on USS Stein, most often, when we were shooting, I would man the EP2 panel in the carrier room. That was the panel that controlled the entire MK 42 Mod 9 gun mount including all gun loading system operation and the movement of the gun. My Chief, Chief Mowery, someone who should be familiar to you by now, would be in the carrier room also. On day we were shooting and the right lower hoist malfunctioned. Chief Mowery went to the magazine, one deck below the carrier room, to see what was wrong. That left me in the carrier room to answer the onslaught of questions I have talked about. It did not take long for the Chief to call me to the magazine scuttle. He said, "we have some severely damaged ammo down here and we have to get it over the side, quick!" So, I called this GMG3 down from the gun mount to open "Water Tight " doors for me Now this GMG3 was a small, slight gentleman. He was an individual with a BA in English, who joined the Navy to "Beat" the draft! Macho he wasn't. Normally, he could not open a quick acting water tight door that was completely dogged down with both arms! But, he was the best I had. So, I told this diminutive GMG3 that he needed to get me to the Port boat deck, quick. With that, I got down on my knees and Chief Mowery passed this mangled projectile up to me. Let me describe this projectile. It seems the projectile drum rotated the same time that the lower hoist raised. It jammed, with 1500 psi of hydraulic pressure, the projectile into the one inch thick top of the loader drum. The projectiles nose fuse was broken off the projectile, hanging by wires, The projectile was cracked all the way down the side, to the rotating band, and layed open, Oh, did I tell you this was real combat ammo. Explosives, designed to sink ships? Yep. The real McCoy.

So, I cradled the broken round in my arms, and stood up and turned around slowly. It was that time that the GMG3 got his first look at this mess. His eyes got as big as saucers!! He ran for the door in the carrier room and opened it up with one arm in one motion, and did the same, on a dead run, through the ship, up a ladder, and not only to the Port boat deck, but all the way to the fantail!!. Of course, I stopped and threw the projectile over the side from the Port boat deck. Then I went back to the gun and got an equally smashed powder charge and did the same thing. Them I went to the fantail and told a panting, scared, GMG3 that everything was OK now. I never saw him open door like that again, but I am glad he did so well that day.

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