20 November, 2006


"What the heck is an MG"


"I didn't understand a word you said in that post."

Just a sampling of the scintillating reviews of "Channeling The Ancient Submariner"

Oh Yea from Chris "you may want to tell people what a nuke is, not everyone will know a nuke is someone who works in engineering, most will probably think of the warhead. " - Quite True

Until this weekend I hadn't realized I was a polyglot. I thought I was limited to English and a few sparse phrases of German (who Austrians politely nod to then ignore).

Of course I have now discovered that after a beer and some pseudo self hypnosis I am able to speak in tongues. Now that I think of it it usually takes several beers to get to the incoherent stage for most people. Is this a gift of mine? My own Hero's power? The one Beer babbeling sublinguese guy?

Ok that was cheesy.

Here are some definitions and descriptions to explain the lingo in Channeling The Ancient Submariner and Contrasts - Submarines.

Sea Story - A genre of stories told by bored (and often boring) sailors when either bragging in a bar, (or for the newer lightweights a bookstore), Standing a long boring midwatch or in front of a class of new soon to be real sailors.

While not essential Sea Stories almost always take the following formats.

They start.

"No Really"

"This is a no shitter"

"Ok Ok"

or for the really true to the genre ones all three.

They are frequently interrupted but the teller is never able to hear what the person interrupting has said. (this is doubly true if he is a NUB)

Something bad or stupid or preferably both always happens.

It is never that bad (well almost never) because the really bad things you don't want to dwell on.

There is almost always a moral. Kind of Darwin Awards with a specific format.

Next term

NUB - A NUB is a non useful body. Anyone who is not yet qualified. Think Plebe or Pledge but worse because the other people actually suffer because the NUB is not yet qualified. In RC Division there are only 7 people assigned to each boat. One of these 7 (the chief usually after all we took his tweaker) stands EWS so doesn't count. When underway there are at least 2 watch stations that have to be manned at all times. This is usually done in 6 hour watches. So you get up eat go stand a 6 hour watch (I'll describe these some other time) Eat again. Do Maintenance. Study for your weekly tests. Then if you are luck you get 2 to 3 hours of sleep before you get up to go on watch again. This is with 6 people. If even one of them are not qualified you go port and starboard watches. The Maintenance still has to happen so that cycle usually goes. Watch (6h), Maint (6h), Watch(6h), Easy Maint(1-3h), Short sleep(2-4h), Watch. Repeat. Similar cycles happen for every other group on the boat. So if someone isn't qualified they make everyone else have to pull their weight. So until they are qualified something they are NUBs. Guys that have been on the boat more than 3 years tend to look at everyone that is not fully qualified (every qual complete) as Nubs.

First Run 688 - 688 is the hull designation of the USS Los Angles which was the first boat of its class. They are fast attack boats. That means that their primary job is to do everything that the boomers can't or won't (not that a boomer would do anything that it can't). Basically they hunt other subs and ships and protect carriers. I'm sure they do other things but well... go read Blind Man's Bluff (I think that was based on Freedom of Information Act stuff) As Bruce says "you have no privacy get over it". I can't remember which boat is the dividing boat but the first run 88's have planes on the sail and no vertical launch tubes. There are a few other differences but I can't remember if I can talk about them. For that matter I can't remember them.

Port Vital Bus - Not worth talking about unless you are on a boat. It is an electrical bus on the port side and it is vital (really important). nuff said.

Roving Watch - Actually Shutdown Roving watch. His job is to roam around the engine room when the reactor is shutdown, take logs and make sure nothing bad is happening. Some say his real job is to stop by Maneuvering every so often and make sure the Shutdown Reactor Operator (SRO) is watching his gauges (not asleep real bad juju there) . If he gets caught in maneuvering to often he gets yelled at. But how do I say this... Have you ever been stuck in a place for 6 hours where Nothing Ever Changes . (UPDATE: Oh wait that is a cube) Over and over again for years? Unless he hates the SRO he goes and talks to him every so often. Sometimes even if they hate each other they still end up talking. Some of the greatest mysteries and problems of the universe have been solved by the SRW SRO and SEO (Shutdown Electrical Operator) and no one knows because they can't let anyone know they were talking. Same for underway for that matter.

Eng - Short for Engineer Think Scotty without the accent. In reality they are the 3rd senior officer on board usually at a Lt Cmd but sometimes a Junior one is a Lt. Always intelligent but sometimes you cannot tell because they are under so much stress that most of them freak out periodically. These guys are almost always career guys who want to be XO next time around but if someone sneezes at the wrong time during ORSE it is all over for them. We called my first Eng red because his bald pate would turn bright red when he was pissed which was pretty much all of the time. He liked to throw hard objects but never hit anyone or anything important so I think it was mostly for show. My second we called thumper because if he was aft in Maneuvering and his hand started tapping you knew a drill was about to kick off. We had another guy we called thumper (an a-ganger) but I won't go into how he got his name.

ORSE – Operational Reactor Safeguard Exam.

At least every year a bunch of Naval Reactor Experts visit every boat (and ship but who cares about skimmers). The audit they do makes a SOX review look more like a homeless guy getting his taxes reviewed by a social worker from San Francisco.

If a boat fails an ORSE the Engineers career is over and the CO's is in jeopardy. Most of the Officers and many of the enlisted personnel might never advance further in their Naval career's. At the very least they will have to pass another one very soon and forget about shore leave or seeing your family. (I always get irritated when the people on "Survivor" complain about missing their family. For god's sake it is only a month suck it up. Try going 4 months wihout even knowing for sure that they are alive let alone being able to talk to them or see them. Put a submariner on your show Jeff. Sorry sidetrack.) Failing an ORSE is Bad other people come to take over and lots of people either loose their job or might as well have. Never happened on a boat I was on but saw it afew times.
The ORSE Board looks at every single piece of paperwork done during the year. If a t isn’t crossed and an I isn’t dotted you get hit (litterally). If you use the wrong color ink you get hit. enough hits you (you is the whole boat for these) fail. If a calculation is wrong on maintenance paperwork (or heaven forbid an ECP) you might fail.
Every Nuke has to take three or four tests a month. If they fail they go on remedial training which means no free time and if in port less time at home. If they fail twice they might be disqualified so they become NUB’s again which is far worse than remedial training.
The ORSE team makes sure the average score on the tests hovers around 3.2 out of 4 and that they are hard enough that some people fail them. They don’t grade on curves so if the people taking them get better the tests just have to get harder. Some of these people have been taking variants of these tests for over 20 years. These tests cover hydrodynamics, Material sciences, Nuclear Physics, electronic fundamentals, plant design, control systems designs, chemistry, basic calculus, other advanced math, casualty response, and most of the time combinations of all of these in one question. There is no multiple choice.
If your training group messes up on grading the tests the ORSE team hits you. If you loose the tests (the physical copies) you get a hit.
They then take a sampling of your questions combine them with some of their own and give every nuke the test to take. If people do poorly on questions they did well on in the past the whole boat can fail the ORSE. While all of this is going on other ORSE team members run drills. These take a number of forms. Sometimes they simulate certain events then monitor how you react. Sometimes they break things in a carefully controlled way and monitor how you react. They take what they learned from your tests and logs they have reviewed and use that to create scenarios of the drills that see if you learned from the mistakes you made in the past. (We did many many electric plat shifts in different plant conditions in the ORSE after the incident I mentioned in my earlier sea story) All of this is done over the course of 3 to 5 days. During those days no one gets more than an hour or 2 sleep in total.

So if you are ever hiring a nuke ask him what station he stood during his ORSE’s. If it was anything other than Drill Monitor (we put the people we were worried about there) he will handle stress alright.

Nuke – Slang for engineering department staff on a sub. Not Nuclear Weapons which don’t talk and I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of on any boat I served on. Nukes were generally considered to be the RC Div (Reactor Controls) E Div (Electrical Division) M Div (Mechanical Division) and ELT’s (Engineering Laboratory Technicians)

RC Div’s responsibility was taking care of and operating the controls systems for the reactor. This included level control system, pressure control systems, the electrical and electronics portion of valve and pump controls, and nuclear instrumentation. Primary underway watch stations for RC div were Reactor Operator (RO) and Reactor Technician (RT).

E Div was responsible for all power generation and distribution systems. This included the Turbine generators (TG) Which are large 3 phase electrical generators powered by steam from the reactor plant. Each of these is big enough to power a small town. Motor Generators (MG’s) convert AC to DC power and vice verse when needed. They are large heavy motor generator’s spinning at a high rate sufficient to power a large subdivision. They were also responsible for all of the other switching and breaker systems. (Except for a few controlled by RC Div). Primary Watch stations were Electrical Operator (EO) who controls the Electric Plant from Maneuvering, Auxiliary Electrician Aft (AEA) who gets coffee for everyone.

M Div – Was responsible for all piping, pumps and valves. No long descriptions here because I didn’t mention them much in the story. The Roving Watch is usually an M Div guy.

ELT Div is responsible for maintaining the chemistry of the reactor and secondary plants. They are also responsible for anything that involves radioactive exposure or contamination. They do more paperwork than anyone on the boat and other than RC Div they spend more time than any other Division in school and taking tests. (Officers excluded of course) ELT’s often stand Engine Room Forward watch for a number of reasons. We liked to tell them they were just radiation sponges.

EWS is the engineering watch supervisor they are the senior underway enlisted watch station. Most of them are Chief’s (E-7 and above) a few are First class and a very rare second class sneaks in (usually trying to make first).

The EOOW is the Engineering Officer of the Watch. They are the senior engineering watch station. They sit in Maneuvering and direct the actions of all of the other watch stations.

CO is the Commanding Officer – The Captain of the Ship.

PD periscope depth – In the North Atlantic without ventilation it is close enough to the surface to get everyone sick.

That took longer than I thought. If you got down and are actually reading this last line you must be really bored. Next time just get a babblefish.

Translation complete.

1 comment:

Buck said...

My son is an M-div MM3, and I can appreciate the translation! Thanks for the great post.