Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Life At Sea

I was watching an old movie about the US Navy and life at sea. It is amazing how they depict life on a Navy ship. And for you landlubbers (except for a submarine) they are called SHIPS. A submarine is called a boat from tradition. Anyway, I watch the movie and noticed that everyone walked normal. No one swayed, staggered or held on to object as they move around the ship. Coffee cups were laid on the tables and desk without support. Curtains (on a Navy ship?!?) did not swing to and fro. The only time I ever saw conditions like that was when we were in dry docks.

There are two things that are constant on a ship; movement and noise. Even on a calm day, which is rare, the ship is still moving up and down and left to right. With three foot swells you are walking up hill leaning to the right then down hill leaning to the left. During a storm or typhoon (especially a typhoon) a wise seaman will go from uncomfortable to petrified in a matter of seconds. The ship I was on (USS Frank E. Evans DD754) could take a 45 degree roll and still recover, but if a wave hit her again while at this angle, she could role on over. Many have. So, as a cocky 18 year old, I see a man with many years of sea experience turn white and swallow hard, it is pretty obvious that I should be concerned. But those were the extremes.

On normal sea duty you eat, sleep, work and relax on constant noise and movement. You learn to eat with one hand while holding the food tray with the other hand trying to keep it level. You stand with you legs spread wide and knees slightly bent to absorb the jolts and swings. If for some reason you wake up and it is totally quiet, you don’t ask what’s going on. You get your butt topside and on the main deck as soon as you can. If everything is okay, you can go back for your clothes later. If not, then you have a better chance of survival than being trapped blow deck (like 74 sailors, one my friend, did when the Evans was cut in half in 69’ and the front half went down in under three minuets.)

Despite the danger and all, it was still a pretty good life. There’s danger in everything we do, so you don’t dwell on that aspect. So the next time you watch a movie about the Navy, remember it’s just a movie. If you want to know what it is really like, talk to a sailor (and thank him/her for serving while we slept safe and comfortable.)

As the saying goes, "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet."

10 comments:

Marni said...

Great post! I was getting sea sick just reading it... :)

Beth said...

Thank you for serving, sailor.

Beth said...

Huh. A month goes by without another post ...

DJ Andi said...

Excellent quote. Living in and working in Cobb, Georgia I worry about the longevity of English.

Thank you for serving. I don't think we can thank the veterans enough.

C. said...

Interesting perspective...and funny about the movie. I've always noticed when they are driving in those old movies...1. they don't look at the road...2. their hair/scarf, whatever, never flies all over the place like it would in real life.

Coffeypot said...

OMG! Someone besides my daughter and niece commented on my blog. Does this make me a professional author?

Andi, thank you, but I don't need to be thanked. All I did was serve. But there are those who have gone through much worse conditions than I went through. They need the thanks. But if you ever want to hug a veteran, well, I’m available for that.

c! Movies are funny to the extreme sometimes. Ever notice silencers on a revolver? The sound would come out of the cylinders, not the end of the barrel.

Beth, I am so busy reading and commenting on all the people on Marni’s blog that I forget to post on mine. But you know me. I’m not a very politically correct person, so I would probably piss off everyone on the net.

Erin said...

I spent a few years living by the Navy Base in Mayport, FL. This gave me a whole new perspective on the military and what's involved for those that serve.

It was exciting for me (being from upstate NY) to go aboard a couple of the ships.

Hello, BTW, I came over to your blog from Beth & Marni's.

Chris said...

Thanks for the mention of the Frank E. Evans. Every mention honors the 74 lost even though they remain excluded from being on the WALL with the rest of our vets who lost their lives in Vietnam. I was there below decks in the forward half when DD-754's bow went down in 3 minutes. You don't want to know what went on in those 3 minutes ... nothing dishonorable ... just the face of doom impending.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Well, thanks, Sailor.

Interesting.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

And I came over from Erin's & Nadine's blogs.