Belay ‘that’ Order! By STS-3 (SS) Kyle D. Lloyd, USN, Retired

I swear this actually happened
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Belay ‘that’ Order! By STS-3 (SS) Kyle D. Lloyd, USN, Retired

Post by Board Admin » Wed May 13, 2015 4:32 am

Back in the Winter of 1979, I received orders to report to my ship duty station, U.S.S. James Madison SSBN 627 (Blue Crew). Upon arrival to the
duty station at Charleston, SC Submarine Base Command Center I learned the Blue Crew was winding down their liberty rotation and the submarine was presently out to sea with the Gold Crew manning it. It would be coming to port in a few weeks.

There were things to do and ‘turn two’ on for new ‘swabbies’ joining the crew though. I was instructed to begin indoctrination immediately and
begin working on ship’s qualifications and to press full steam ahead to finish the ‘qual’ card and get those boards passed ASAP. Two 4” binders
were thrust into my hands and I was told these are the ships manuals, “best turn two and commit as much to memory of these as you can!”

For a few weeks I was housed in barracks on the base, but as soon as the sub docked and the Gold Crew disappeared (pretty rapidly for some reasons unknown to me as a ‘newby’). I bet it wasn’t more than 3 days (foggy recollections) after the sub was docked that I received a berthing
assignment and stowed all my gear below decks on the “Jolly Dolly”.

In the next two weeks I began to get acquainted with the crew members I’d be going to sea with and be more or less married and buried with
essentially (subs are tight quarter vessels & best be able to get along with others or tolerate others or misery will be your lot). In those two weeks we were fixing as quickly as possible all the maintenance hit list items generated from the prior running’s with the Gold Crew. Blue Crew members had a knack for making it sound like they turned over a flawless craft to the “Goldies” and always got “Dolly” back as a barely limping cripple boat with a laundry list of repairs caused by carelessness, neglectfulness, and slough.

I lost count of the number of tender runs (as a ‘go-fer’; go for this / go for that) I made with chits in hand for repair parts. Many times I
returned to the Submarine empty handed as the Tender was clean out of “fallopian tubes” or “testicle adapters”. During the course of all this
busy work week, I was given direct orders that I would have to secure cable bundles in the ‘trim tank’, but another member on the sonar gang would assist me and show me what needed done.

Unfortunately, the day came to cast off lines before the convenient time came for this other member of the sonar gang and myself could secure these cable bundles. And in the whirl of details, duties, stores loading parties, etc. the little detail slipped through everyone’s memories collectively somehow.

A tug was pulling us out across Charleston sound and about the time we were abreast of the Fort Sumter National Monument my Sonar Chief barked out, “Petty Officer Lloyd have the cable bundles in the trim tanks been bandy tied securely?!” My reply, “Uh oh, what?!”

Well, now I had to do something that was very daring and not at all comfortable either. But I was able to take along the partner of the sonar gang that was supposed to show me what needed doing, too. So, two of us sonar gangers climbed into day-glow orange body harnesses and clipped
ourselves to lifelines. We had to go topside open an access cover to climb down into the trim tank with our hands full of these nylon slip ties to
secure a cabled bundle. The other thing we carried were flashlights as this was being done after dusk in the early evening. And the Captain of the ship was itching to call the command for “Dive”. Our heads were wrapped up to in these headphones and speaker things that made one feel
like a field spotter calling in coordinates for air-fire ground support. All the while I was trying to secure cable bundles and not loose footing to slip off into the frigid black water already inside the tank with us, I was hearing a lot of command chatter in the phones. And the footing was a sure
as a butter slathered frying pan.

Occasionally the word “Dive” crept into the dialogues I was more or less eavesdropping on. One time it got too nerve-wracking for me and I had to speak up saying, “Belay that order; we’ve got two men working the forward trim tank for sonar cables…” Then the Captain came on the phones and got word of our task and an estimated time to completion. This was one of the most frightening and unexpected experiences I ever had in the Navy and yet survive to tell.

The moral to the story is to never leave some task un-done that could put bite marks in your britches if procrastination happens. "Procrastination” and “castration” are similar sounding words for very good reasons.

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