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The Lie: Evolution
 

U.S.S. Wright


Number One “Deep Sink”

Part of Navy life for a lowly unskilled enlisted man on a ship involved duty of extremely long hours and hard work on the Deck Force (the real sailors) or the Mess Deck (the chow hall of a ship). As soon as I came aboard the USS Wright I was assigned to the latter. To multiply the misery, the ship was involved in a Navy worldwide competition for the best mess (food service). Shortly after starting as a mess cook I got into a fight and was “sentenced” to the galley deep sink. Some would say that was worse than the brig. Imagine, scrubbing pots and pans for a crew of over 1000 guys! There I stayed for 76 days and qualified as the best “Deep Sink” in the U. S. Navy because we won the coveted Ney Award for the best large mess afloat category.

References:

USS Wright (history)
http://www.navy.mil/navydata/navy_legacy_hr.asp?id=63

and

“Award Winning Ships and Stations”. All Hands. November 1968. 18-21
http://www.navy.mil/media/allhands/acrobat/ah196811.pdf

During that time, I wrote a letter to the captain asking him to get me a Postal Clerk A school. To the consternation of my petty officers, I got called to Officer County and was interviewed by the XO. I got to go to the school!

I did some other things while connected with the Navy. Someday I will write about the adventures of a Mess Cook and other shipboard activities.

Some examples:

Seeking Shelter in a Hiding Place.

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After Mess Cook Duty I was assigned to the ship’s laundry. Although not nearly as bad as Mess Cook duty, it was hard work. I was on the night shift and was forced to work some days (after working all night) because of Stores on the Pier. Eventually, I figured out a way to avoid doing “stores on the pier” work. I had been sent to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital to have some dental work. When I returned to my ship, my appointment sheet was not taken back by the personnel office. I kept it in my locker. Whenever the announcement STORES ON THE PIER sounded, I quickly wrote in an appointment for that morning and used it to leave the ship. I hung out in a local Locker Club until it was safe to go back. Locker Clubs were businesses near the naval base that sold memberships. A membership allowed sailors to store civilian clothes in a clocker (Civvies were not allowed aboard ship.), use a sauna, swim in a pool and just hang out.

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One day I entered the laundry area and noticed that all of the liberty cards were on a shelf. I took and destroyed all of them except for mine and my friend’s. It did not hurt anyone except for a petty officer who had to get them replaced. In order to leave the ship, we had to wait on Liberty Call in the afternoon. My friend and I would leave early by putting our uniform shirts and white hats into a bag that looked like it was trash. We had t-shirts and wore mess cook paper hats which made us appear to be mess cooks. Behind the dumpster, we put on our white hats and uniform shirts and left the base using the liberty cards.

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One place for R & R was a locker club just outside one of the base gates. Sailors were not allowed to have civies aboard ship so, for a fee, we had a private locker and access to pool tables, a television, a pool and a sauna. One day I left the sauna and jumped into the pool. No one else was there. The sudden temperature change almost made me pass out. It was scary.