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Following The Rules To The Letter

, , , | Working | October 26, 2020

I am the watch-stander in Damage Control Central on the midnight watch on April first. Damage Control Central is the primary communications point for any emergency aboard the ship and is manned around the clock. As a result, the watch-standers routinely get sailors wandering in at all hours to ask some extremely stupid questions, like, “What time are eight-o’clock reports?” and, “What deck is the weatherdeck on?”

Since it is April Fool’s Day, I decide to try to limit the Stupid Question Parade by putting a sign outside the door suggesting we’re busy with an emergency situation. In an attempt to avoid getting in trouble for false reporting, I make sure the sign is totally accurate but misleading to anyone not paying attention.

All is well — and blissfully Stupid-Question-free — until the Chief Engineer happens to drop by DC Central to print out a report he’ll be needing first thing in the morning. He is less than thrilled about the sign and yells at me, but he acknowledges that the sign is both accurate and pretty funny.

The sign I posted says, “DC Central is dealing with seawater intrusion in the firemain system. Emergencies Only!”

For non-Navy readers, the firemain is the system that provides fire-fighting water in the event of a fire. On Navy ships, the firemain is constantly pressurized with seawater.

I receive some mild punishment from my Division Officer, but I follow it up the next April Fool’s Day with a different sign: “DC Central is dealing with a Class Bravo Fire in #2 Boiler. Emergencies Only!”

A “Class Bravo” fire means the fire source is a flammable liquid. The ship’s boilers burn diesel fuel, so there is always a “Class Bravo” fire in the boilers when they’re running.

I get in trouble again, of course. For the rest of my tour aboard that ship, I am specifically prohibited from standing any watches on April first.

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