"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Ya ever seen my house?

Ya ever seen my house?
Neither have I Ted! You douchebag.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Friday, June 21, 2013

...The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

What the hell does that mean?
The matter at hand: The day, spoken of in the title, January 17, 1950, actually stretched out to over two terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad weeks before all the ducks were back in a row but first; let's look at an innocent bystander of said two weeks
May I present: The last of the Iowa-class battleships, one USS Kentucky, BB-66 near the end of her career.
And what a career it was.
Keel laid in 1942, construction halted for one reason or another until, still uncompleted, she ended up being "parted-out" to other - actually launched - Iowa-class battleships (Her bow went to USS Wisconsin - for example - and I'm sure she was happy to give it).
In 1958 she was scrapped.
Of course, in the meantime, she'd been shuttled to and fro while grand schemes were devised to utilize her, increasingly irrelevant self but to no avail.
We'll be getting back to her.
This is about her famous older sister, USS Missouri, whose monumental fuckup in early 1950 is what sealed Kentucky's fate.
 Big Mo had spent December of '49 in Norfolk getting some work done and, when finished, went forth with a new skipper, Captain William D. Brown.
Brown was an academy man with thirty-years in, lots of that time spent captaining ships.
But that had been way back during the war, five-plus years earlier, and those ships had been little ones, pigboats and destroyers.
This was his time to shine. His first time driving a big rig.
He took her out on a spin up the Virginia coast just to get the feel of it then went back to Norfolk for orders.
On January 17, she headed out of Chesapeake Bay, bound for Gitmo with a full complement of supplies and ammunition and fuel tanks that were 95% full.
Here's where it gets complicated. First of all, Cap'n Brown had his route out of the bay all laid-on. No one ever got creative leaving this harbor - in-and-out of which boats had been sailing for centuries.
But, four days before leaving, the ship received a request from the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. It seems the techies wanted some help in an experiment they were running.
The big brains were trying to figure out how to identify a ship by its prop signature. To this end they'd laid out a row of sonar sensors on the way out of the bay and asked would Missouri mind using that particular route... Please.
This same course had been run by merchant vessels for the past year so the route should have been clear. 
This detour was completely optional but, due to some untimely communications, bad communications and a captain new at the job, the ship had agreed to it without the command structure even being fully aware.
The XO didn't learn of it until the course changes necessary to run by the buoys were called for.
And, just because Cap'n Brown hadn't been screwed-over enough already, one of the pair of bouys meant to mark the beginning of the experimental run... had been removed.
Henceforth, courses were charted, backs were patted, mistakes were made.
So, here we see her: Big Mo, with the bit in her teeth, showing the bay who's boss, at fifteen knots.
That's about seventeen and a half miles per hour. Not blistering but... 57,000 tons takes some slowing down.
But slow down she did - and right suddenly.
Being that she had been zipping along somewhere parallel to the channel she was supposed to be in, she'd run onto a mud bank.
By the time she'd lost all that wonderful, fifteen-knot momentum she'd traveled over half the length of the mud bank itself.
Next photo: Her stern, post-grounding, showing just how far out of the water her mass had carried her.Cap'n Brown has really put his foot in it.
Of course, then the engines were reversed along with an assortment of I-can't-really-be-this-stuck shit that anyone would have done had they put one of the nation's strategic assets, worth multiple millions of dollars onto a mud bar at high tide.
After the nautical equivalent of jumping-on-the-rear-bumper-while-gunning-it had failed there remained nothing to do but call for a tow.
In the next photo, see all the helper boats. Pretty embarrassing.
It's deceptive though. Those ships in the background are just passing through and are a lot farther away than they look thanks to the wonders of zoom-lensitude.
The bad news is; that was only four days into the mess.
The next day, the 22nd, an Army dredge came out and sucked out a bunch of mud from around her hull, then scooped out a channel behind her.
Meanwhile the crew had been busily off-loading all those stores and ammo we mentioned earlier as well as pumping out all that fuel.
In the end they left one anchor aboard to force her to list hoping they could lessen the friction somewhat.
It was assumed that since this had occurred during a high tide, one equally high would optimize chances.
What the hell. As soon as all the prep work had been completed they hooked up all the tugs and all the available warships in the vicinity and pulled.
And nothing happened.
The tide was supposed to be right on February 2 but they managed to pop her free on the first.
From the oracle of Wiki:
"On 1 February Missouri was finally freed with the assistance of 23 vessels. Five tug boats pulled alongside, six pulled astern, and three swung to the bow to facilitate movement. Additionally, two Gypsy-class, salvage vessels, Salvager and Windlass,  and seven yard tugs, helped keep the other vessels in place"

Well shit! Bit o' drama, innit?
So, the stage venue chosen for the closing act of WW2 ended up being stuck in the mud right out in front of God and everybody - for a long time.
The Russians, our brand-new - former-allies-but-not-to-be-trusted-anymore - enemies thought this all quite comical, as it indeed was.
Captain Brown... (Let me pause to say: You will never in your entire life be as incompetent, stupid and bone-headed as you feel you are on the first day of a new job.). With this poor SOB. it was on the first month - and last - as it turned out.
The Skipper was found guilty of negligence and so he didn't get to drive the boat anymore. or any other - US Navy - boats either - ever.
But, just so he'd not be left without hope, they only moved him down the promotion list a few spaces. Two-hundred and fifty of them.
The classy way to say: "put in your time but don't expect anything but the LGSD (Large Gray Steel Desk).

And Mo. Remember her?
She did okay having slid half a mile on her keel. but in the pulling back out, she picked up something extra.
Initially it was thought that she'd snagged an old anchor but it turned out to be a chunk of wrought iron from God-knows-where.
Mystery notwithstanding, this random junk gouged a breach in the hull more than thirty-feet long so, even though she was just out of the shop back she went.
But, there was no room at the inn so out went the perennially unlucky, never yet commissioned, USS Kentucky.
That's her being wheeled out on a gurney above.

Now turn that frown upside-down. here's Kentucky when everyone still thought she'd be a ship.

"And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually"
James Marshall Hendrix
101st Airborne
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