16 September 2006

Watchstanding III

When I was on the target, I normally stood watch as JOOD on duty days. My main job was to stand behind the lectern at the head of the brow, inspect the ID card (and liberty card, if appropriate) of anyone wishing to leave or board the ship, grant (or deny) permission to do so, and make sure they remembered to salute the ensign on the way by. This watch was stood by PO1s and PO2s, but shortly after I reported on board a PO2 put a round into the overhead during watch relief, and all PO2s were immediately disqualified. (Most of them thought this was rather unfair, especially since not long after this event the guilty party was CAP’d to PO1 and was therefore permitted to stand the watch again.)

Watch relief was rather more formal on the skimmer than it had been when I stood POOD on my first boat. In those days, the offgoing POOD would draw his pistol, check it clear and lock it open, unbuckle the pistol belt and hand it over to his relief, wait while the relief counted the ammo, and then hand over the pistol. A quick review of the log (mainly of draught readings), a report on the whereabouts of the CO, XO, and COB, and that was pretty much it. Some people would simplify turnover even more at night, by simply unbuckling the belt and handing it over, with the .45 still in the holster.

On the tender, the procedure went something like this:

1. Oncoming watch reviews the log and gets a turnover from the offgoing watch.
2. Oncoming goes to the OOD (the chief or above who was the on-watch supervisor, stationed behind the counter ten feet or so from the JOOD’s lectern), salutes, and requests permission to relieve the JOOD.
3. OOD grants permission.
4. Oncoming goes back to the Offgoing.
5. Offgoing hands over the body armour (if it was being worn*), draws the .45, checks it clear and locks the slide back, and hands over the belt. Oncoming dons the belt and counts the ammo. Offgoing hands over the .45; Oncoming checks it clear, closes the slide and holsters it.
6. Oncoming salutes and says, “I am ready to relieve you.”
7. Offgoing returns the salute and says, “I am ready to be relieved.”
8. Oncoming says, “I relieve you.”
9. Offgoing says, “I stand relieved.”
10. Oncoming (now the JOOD) takes his position behind the lectern, while the Offgoing goes over to the OOD, salutes, and says, “Properly relieved by Petty Officer Lizardlips [or whatever his** name was]. Request permission to lay below.”
11. OOD returns the salute and grants permission, and Offgoing departs the quarterdeck.

Much too complicated a procedure for me.... So after standing the watch a few times, and getting to know the chiefs and JOs who normally stood OOD, I developed a somewhat streamlined procedure which I used from then on. The first five steps were the same as in the established procedure, but the remainder of it went like this:

6. Offgoing salutes and says, “I had it, you got it.”
6a. (Optional) Oncoming returns salute.
7. Offgoing goes to OOD, salutes, and says, “I had it, he got it, I’m gone.”
8. Offgoing departs the quarterdeck.

Much easier and less complicated, for all involved.

One night I stood watch with a young Supply Corps ensign who was standing OOD by herself for the first time. By this time I had been standing JOOD for a couple of years, so when I was relieved I just walked up to the counter, saluted, reported my relief, and left, without waiting for her to respond. Which was just as well, because when I glanced back at her I saw that she was just standing there staring at me with her mouth hanging open.

(One of the problems I always had with the Navy was that I function much better on a first-name basis. For that reason, even though I would never have dreamed of addressing this ensign, or of referring to her, by her first name, all I can remember is that it was Tracy. Haven’t the slightest clue what her last name might have been. But a week or two later my flatmate stood a midwatch as rover with her. I’d told him about her reaction to my casual attitude toward watch relief, so when he went to report his relief he saluted and said, “Properly relieved by XXXXX, and penguins have taken over the garbage barge.” And walked off, also leaving her with her mouth hanging open. But I digress....)

The target being a submarine tender, there were a lot of other submariners on board, but of course most of the crew were skimmers. One of those who stood OOD frequently was a TMC (named Terry something-or-other), who really should have been a bubblehead. At least once per watch, when the roving watches*** came up to him to make their hourly all-secure report, he would interrupt them to ask, “Any fire, flooding, faggotry, fornication or fraternization going on on board my ship? Can’t have any of those nasty F-words, you know.” This was usually good for a laugh, especially if one of the rovers had never stood watch with him before.

Watch this space. More on watchstanding to come….

* We always had to wear it under CAPT Crahan. One of the first things CAPT Riffer did after taking command was tell us we could just keep it under the lectern, ready for use if needed. We JOODs loved him for that.
** We had plenty of females in the crew, and some of them may well have stood JOOD, but I don’t remember their doing so.
*** Sounding and Security Watch, I think, was the official title; the job was similar to that of the BDW on subs. There were always two, one male and one female, because one of their duties was doing wake-ups at night, and that way one of them was able to enter any berthing space to accomplish this.

No comments: