The pain of learning

24 02 2015

As a young naval signal I had a lot of time to practice my arts. The ship I was posted to was a part of the training squadron, that meant we did a lot of training. Young officers came to our squadron to learn how to manouever ships, navigate and generally be a useful member of the Royal Canadian Navy. Part of the training they went through involved the signalmen aboard passing signals between ships.

We did manoeuvres, lots of them. We did them during the day, in the rain, in the snow, in the fog and at night.

Doing manoeuvres was a specific choreographed exercise in boring repetitive actions.

The CO told the Yeoman where he wanted the ships to go

The Yeoman told the navsig on watch what signal to pass to the other ships

The navsig on watch wrote the signal down in the tactical log and passed the signal out to the other ships.

count 2, 3 and do it all again.

Well, here I was, the most junior of the junior in the navsig department. The Yeoman was of the opinion that the only way to learn was the TRIAL BY FIRE method. As such, I was sat down at the radio and told to listen and make signals. It began.

CO told the Yeoman, the Yeoman looked at me and told me to create the signal. I made the the signal and held it up for the Yeoman to check. The Yeoman said it was correct, pass it out. I wrote the signal down in the tac log and passed it out to the other ships.

The CO said Make It So and I did, then the ships started to move. All was going just ducky until it was clear that one ship was going somewhere unexpected. It was going somewhere really unexpected. The CO looked at the Yeoman, the Yeoman looked at the tac log and all looked good. Then the CO picked up the radio and said “WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING? to which the reply of where your signalman told me to. After a few moments of unpleasant radio exchange, one of the senior navsigs came up from below and quietly told the Yeoman that I had sent the signal out incorrectly.

The Yeoman told the CO

The CO looked at me and shook his head

The Yeoman waited until the CO had turned away before he applied the back of his hand across the back of my skull with the words of Wake The Fuck Up.

As a sailor, you are entitled to make one fuck up. I had gotten mine out of the way very early in my career

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