Friday, April 24, 2015

U - Underway

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Yay!  Much later than usual, but at least it's posted on the correct day!

You can't have a bunch of sea stories without talking about getting underway!

On the Canopus, I worked in deck department.  We were in charge of making the ship look pretty - chipping & painting.  We also did sea & anchor detail.  In this old photo (grabbed from the AS34 FB page), these people are all working sea & anchor on the foc'sle.  This is where I was (and I also painted this area many a time).

The Canopus had 2 anchors on the bow (front) and one aft (in back).  While in port, those huge chains were attached to buoys in the bay.  Shorter chains were attached to a padeye on deck and held the anchors in place.  To prepare for ships' movement, those chains had to be shifted.  A shackle attached to a another padeye was clipped onto the long chain to hold it in place while one of the links was taken apart and reattached to the anchor chain.  Thus the anchors were usable.  The chain looped around giant windlasses and went down the keyhole shaped opening into the chainlocker below decks.  Then the fun part happened!  2 brave souls stood near each shackle with a sledgehammer.  When the word was given - they would use those sledgehammers on the shackles and pop them open.  The long lengths of chain would make an enormous racket as they slid out of the bullnoses and into the water. The ship was free, a whistle would blow and an announcement made of "Underway, shift colors"  Meaning the flag at the rear of the ship was brought down and another raised on a more prominent area on a mast.  A different process happened in back at the pier, but since I never worked back there I never saw it.

I got to break the shackle once!  The light colored part of the foc'sle was silver paint and I'd stood out there at the ready, the hot Georgia sun getting me from above and reflecting off that damn silver paint, for a good hour while we slowly made our way up the river to Kings Bay.  When the moment of truth came along and one of the tough guys thought he was going to take the sledgehammer from me!  I don't think so buddy!  So bets started being placed if I, a little 19 year old girl, could break the shackle with one blow!  Pride and bragging rights were on the line!  So I swung that sledgehammer with all my might and knocked the hell out of that shackle!  It would have been more impressive had we been leaving port, but I was happy with the less spectacular incoming sea & anchor.

Coming back into port was a lot more work.  Those chains lying on the bottom of the bay had to come back up onto the foc'sle.  Ropes with small buoys were attached to the end so it could be found again. Heavier ropes were attached and wound around the windlasses to pull those chains up.  Once they were in place, the shackle would be attached to the anchor again, a link broken and reattached to the muddy, barnacly chain.

Underway was a lot different between the 2 ships.  The Canopus, being smaller, was tossed around on the waves a lot more than the Lincoln was.  One incident comes to mind involving a door and my face!  I'd been out on deck painting and was sent to get more paint.  My friend Laura, that I've mentioned in several other posts, worked in the paint locker. As I waited for her to stir a 5 gallon bucket of haze gray for me, I sat on the bottom of the door to chat.  The ship hit a wave and rolled enough to make the (loose) handle like the one seen below, swing down and hit me!  I had been wearing my glasses and as I picked them up off the deck, I wiped what I thought were pain-tears from my eyes.  Then I noticed it was blood!  Anyone who has had the smallest cut in their eye-area knows that you bleed like a stuck pig.  I just stood there and stared as Laura freaked, then she grabbed me and drug me thru the ship to medical.  I didn't know where I was bleeding from, so I honestly thought my eyeball was hanging out of my head!  I ran bent over with my hands cupped over my eye, but blood still dripped off my elbows along the way.  As we flew thru the door into medical, the corpsmen reacted quickly, one of them yelling "Eye Injury!!" and put me over an eyewash station.  Once they got the story from Laura what had happened, they had me lie down until the bleeding stopped enough for them to see if I needed stitches or not.  Luckily, I didn't.  I got to spend some time with the nice corpsmen, since I went into a mild shock and was just shaking.   Laura got yelled at for leaving the paint locker unattended and I got yelled at for not bringing the paint back out before going to medical!

Closed & locked quick-acting watertight door.  The handle should be tight!

The Lincoln was much less eventful.  I worked in the post office by then and didn't have anything to do with sea & anchor detail.  Getting underway was pretty mundane for us.  Our working hours were much longer, since we added evening hours to the time the window was open for postage sales & stuff.  And we also had to work on the flight deck, loading and unloading mail from planes and helos.  It was not uncommon for us to be sorting mail until well after midnight. 

door source

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