And She Blew Chunks

14 01 2015

Time for a shanty to lighten your day me hearties


My naval career started out on a 1960’s vintage Mackenzie class destroyer escort named HMCS Qu’appelle DDE264. She was a wonderful old girl, her two propellers driven by high pressure steam that was generated in two boilers. When I first came on board, I really had no idea exactly what a boiler was, nor did I really care. All of that crap was down there, not up on the bridge where I got to hang out. To help illustrate some of the finer points of this shanty, a boiler is essentially a big cylinder lined with bricks into which burning oil is squirted.

Now, with that little bit of engineering, here is the rest of the shanty.

In many movies that feature some sort of warship, you would often hear the phrase “X arriving” where X is the name of a ship. That line signifies the the Commanding Officer takes the name of His ship, the ship and man really become one. It makes sense then that the CO wants to show his ship off, show everyone just how cool it is.

So, there we were, out on Constance Banks, the Qu’appelle, the Mackenzie and the Yukon. We were doing formation maneuvers for a TV crew and this was making the CO happy as all hell. He had the TV types just eating out of his hand. Every signal was sent out smartly and acted on with exact precision (my personal addition to his happiness), every maneuver was executed sharply and without wobbling all over the place, every brass surface was shone within an inch of its life. All was that was good in the world was right there.

Then it happened


The whole ship shook as a huge cloud of black smoke was barfed out the stack. Chunks of firebrick started raining down on the upper deck and slashed into the sea.

Oh Oh, this does not look good, this looks bad, exceedingly bad. (I was a newbie at that time, didn’t really know much about anything, hence my simplistic outlook)

The ship stopped her majestic turn and drifted to a halt while I was ordered to tell the other two ships we were no longer going to remain in formation. I suspect that our sister ships were not all that surprised to hear that signal.

The CO was no longer a happy man, he was decidedly unhappy. He was very verbally unhappy. The TV people were not very happy either. I suspect that a few of them needed a clean pair of knickers.

In very short order the ship was called to EMERGENCY STATIONS and the TV crew was given an unexpectant view of how the navy deals with the minor inconvenience of having boiler spew chunks of brick out of her stack. As it turned out, the ship was brought up to EMERGENCY STATIONS in record time – it is amazing what a real live problem will do for speed. At least this made the CO a bit happier. 5 minutes later is was reported from the boiler room that there was no fire, and no hull breach, no broken bits that would spew flaming death and that the boiler fuel supply had been isolated. “All” that had happened was the port boiler had belched and a few bricks had been shaken free.

Thank god that was “all”. I would have hate to have had something serious.

The CO pointed the ship back to harbour and will chugged back at half power.

All in all the TV folks were very impressed. They got a front row seat on the real thing and got to go home to tell about it.

Me, I got home and got some new knickers




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