Hands to Bathing Stations

26 02 2015

On board any ship, there is a big push to be clean. Clean the deck, clean the heads, clean the galley and for Gods sake give your pits a good scrubbing while you are at it. Two hundred men, in a floating can, in the middle of nowhere and nowhere to go. Be clean, or at least as much as the water supply will allow for. The first ships I served on were stream driven, thus were constantly in need of desalinated water, no water and the ship no go. That water was supplied by two evaporators in the boiler room. Once it was produced, that water was dished out in the following priorities

feeding the engine

feeding the crew

cleaning the galley

cleaning the rest of the ship

cleaning the crew

Notice where the crew sits? Sometimes water would run a bit low so the first thing to go would be daily “showers” for the crew. The quotes come from the concept that a shower was supposed to be 5 seconds of water to get wet, off water, soap up, 15 seconds water to rinse off. Anyone caught using more water than that would be condemned to watching the evaporators for 4 hours – that meant 4 hours in the boiler room with the grimies – er the engineers.

Funny thing thou, the cooks never seemed to have that restriction. They always seemed to be permitted to shower.

Bathing stations was a rather interesting event that happened when the water was warm. The CO would decide that the crew was rather on the ripe side so he would order the ship to be stopped, the engine intakes shut and the buffer to break out the emergency supply of soap. Each man was issued a bar, marched up the the upper deck and told to take a long walk off of a very short gangway. It was a long way from the end of the gangway to the water.

Now, for all of you who are concerned for the well being of the crew, fear not, safety was first and foremost on the mind of the CO. Land was only a mile away, anyone can swim that in warm water. Of course that mile was usually just beneath your toes. Not only that, the CO was always up on the bridge wing, keeping a close eye on his crew. Usually that eye was watching through a rifle sight. I bathed well knowing he was watching me for I knew his hand was steady and his aim was true. Should any shark think about coming too close I knew the CO would hit the target – it was a good incentive to ensure the CO was not pissed at you that day <g>.

Bathing stations was a pretty neat evolution, a bit freaky but what is life without a few seconds of blind terror?

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