Updated as at 24 June 2017: From Solitary to Pod Prelude - caution swearing
From Solitary to Pod
– Caution swearing
I walk out of the base annex with the paperwork I need for my temporary transfer to the Dam Neck military base and smile. I was requested by a Missile Tech Chief “Smitty” Smith, who is a friend of my Commanding Officer in New London, Connecticut for the past 6 years, to come here and help with his sub. I love the Navy, its men and other submariners. I rub my dolphins’ badge. This shows I have gone from N.U.B., or a non-useful body, to having a Submarine Warfare Qualification which is symbolized by the dolphins’ insignia. We’re known as the Silent Service and have access to some of the highest confidential information in the military. We are trained and are awarded with our dolphins which symbolize this select group who are to be trusted without fail. The systematic duties and responsibilities my days on base and while at sea give me, coupled with the dolphin’s brotherhood, make me feel satisfied.
I report to MTC "Smithy" Smith at his office. He made me think of NCIS, one of my favorite shows I watch when I get the time. I can see the character Gibbs in him. While there I met another MT2, or Missile Tech Petty Officer Second Class, named Macky. He was a tall, skinny and very young man with the same military cut as me but dark brown hair with dark silky satin eyes and very white skin. We acknowledged each other with a nod. Smitty tells Macky to do the walk through qualification before being able to help with the problems. The walk through is a requirement for each new sailor on a ship or boat no matter what rank. The sub couldn't be used until the problems are fixed which had to be done ASAP.
We did the walk through that’s required for new people on the sub, and then we went below to the maneuvering room where many of the systems were. It was a small room with computer screens, various buttons and levers all over the walls with men standing shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the room which you could measure by taking only 2 small steps to cross it. There were computer screens, levers and buttons you needed for it. The sailors, who were shoulder to shoulder, were performing checks for the problems - until they saw me. Then everyone went quiet and stopped what they were doing. You could tell they were frustrated and annoyed originally because of the problems but now there was an uneasiness because of me.
Macky addressed the sailors. “This is PO “Squid” Fish. He is here to help us as per Chief Smith.” His voice and the body language of were mirrored in the other sailor’s communicated me they were NOT happy about this.
I let them know I’m friendly and one of them by using my voice and body language “I come from the New London base and here to help. What are the problems and where are we with them?” I was trying to reassure them.
The sailors mumble not so nice comments under their breath. You could tell Macky agreed by his crossed arms, feet and how he leaned against the Tomahawk missiles with a blank look on his face.
I realized they were not going to accept me and I would have to change this. On the other boats we were always like brothers as this is what the dolphin brotherhood was about. The brotherhood to me was a substitute for my own family. I was separated from them when I was 3 and put into the foster system due to abuse and neglect from my parents. When my aunt and uncle took me in, I was fully accepted and loved me for me. They taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to and encouraged and supported me throughout my life. This was mirrored into the Navy's brotherhood - until today.
I looked at everyone and knew being nice wasn’t working, so I pulled rank. “Well?” I said with a authoritarian voice with eyes to match. Silence.
“I’m here to help fix problems with the sub. Now I’m starting to think there're problems with communication too?” I say as I walk over to a small group of sailors who are lower ranking and look them in the eyes and they mumble in soft voices “No Sir”.
“Care to repeat that?” I said in a strict voice.
They stood up straight, looked right at me and said at once “No Sir! We know how to communicate!”
I nodded my head once and thought that’s better. “Now, the problem?”
The guys start listing the many problems as Macky stands by watching with a weary look.
I look at Macky. “What are your findings?” Macky has the same rank and he should know and have at least done the basics by now. He tells me in a low voice that he doesn’t know where else to look. I put on a blank face even though it surprised me, because at our level he should’ve known what to do. I realize he must have less than 4 years in and even less within his milestone or rank or whoever was teacher did a really bad job. It doesn’t matter so much but I had better show him what needs to be done to keep this rank so he knows what his job entails.
“Ok guys, this looks like it’s going to be a long night ahead of US!” I say as I exhale and start to roll up my sleeves and got started.
By early morning, we had checked all systems including the advanced electronics & electric, mechanical systems and repair on the missiles and launching systems and still haven’t progressed on the problems. I could tell the guys seemed shocked I was still there and patient with them.
I happen to look at the screen and notice some code on it. "What's this?" I ask another MT standing nearby.
"Dunno. It appeared after the last software update. It’s been there awhile and everything was acting normal when it appeared" He responded.
I close my eyes, sigh and just shake my head as it’s NOT normal or an error. It was THE error that was probably causing all the problems. An update was the one thing we hadn’t checked. "Everyone do an update to your software systems - Stat!" I ordered.
There was a flurry of activity; cursing and they immediately began to report back. We found the software version numbers were probably the cause of the problems.
In a loud, confident voice “I would say this is what they call the 7 P’s type of situation!” In naval sub speak it means Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance which is exactly what’s happened with having a sub down because someone either forgot, weren’t trained to handle things, or didn’t plan properly. I would say on this sub it was due to training.
I turn to Macky, smiled and asked him in a kind voice “Would you like to continue from here?” By the look on his face, he was stunned. We went into the hallway.
“Macky, I’m here to fix problems. These are your MTs and post right? You can handle this. I’m not here to take over. Did you notice what I was doing to fix the systems? No matter what, you follow the protocol to see what’s wrong and it’ll come to you. One of the procedures I had assumed was done, and it hadn’t been. The error was in updates not being applied and that comes from a processes not being followed” I tell him in a kind friendly way. It seems like Macky was not trained properly which was not his fault. He nods and I slap him on the shoulder as I pass as encouragement and confident he could handle it from here.
The next day I was told to report and arrive at the sub at ten hundred hours or 10am. I decided to go for a run and was finishing my drink when my cell phone rings. I answer it to find the guys from New London, my old base and I greet them. We’re always joking around during downtime which is what I would have been doing if I were there instead of here. After a few other lewd suggestions and many laughs the phone was put on speaker phone. “Did you guys butt dial me again or did you want to talk about something?” More laughs and then one of the guys yells “No butt dialing, but we wanted to see how you went.”
I laughed as the butt dialing was always a joke within our group, after someone who was on leave had done that as they were having sex and someone patched it into the sub internal speaker system for us all to hear. “It’s all good. I’ve checked in, reported in to the CO, and found the problem.” I look at my watch to see what time it was as it was nearing time to head to the sub. The call ends with a promise to stay in contact. I head off to get in my uniform for the day.
I walk into the maneuvering room again. It was a repeat of the day before, but with the exception when they saw me. This time I was greeted with back slaps. Systems are up and running without problems and everyone has a grin on their face. It seemed whatever problem they had with me was gone.
MTC Smith’s voice is heard over the loudspeaker “I believe I can once again say “Air in the banks, shit in the tanks, ready to submerge below…sound the diving alarm!” and we all start to laugh and agree.
Testing has begun or so it seems…
Note to the reader: This is a work in progress and is currently being updated. You may have read this but it may change to enhance your reading enjoyment.