Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A certain amount of cockiness....

"The Navy believes in putting a man in a position with a job to do, and let him do it - and give him hell if he does not perform. We capitalize on the capabilities of our individual people rather than make automatons out of them. This builds the essential pride of service and sense of accomplishment. [And] if it results in a certain amount of cockiness, I am [all] for it."

Admiral Arleigh A. Burke


Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert.

A newly rated First Class FTG reported aboard a Destroyer in Sept. 1962, and found he was the senior FT on this Destroyer and that his ship the USS William R Rush (DDR 714) was to be heading to GITMO for underway training. Having just completed a major overhaul her crew was relatively untrained as a team, The first time the ship went to GQ at GITMO a young Ens. showed up in Main Battery Plot to be Plotting Room Officer, it was not his fault the Gunnery Officer no doubt sprung it on him at the last minute without having any choice but to assign this job to an inexperienced Junior Officer. This First Class Petty Officer had been trained by a hard nosed FT Chief in the previous years on another Destroyer and he had been required to learn nearly every job that the Gun Fire Control Division did on a Destroyer. The training folks at GITMO had no tolerance for this inexperienced Officer and appointed the Petty Officer who was the Range Operator on the MK 1A Gun Fire Control Computer to take the job of the Plotting Room Officer as well as being the Computer Range Operator. This young First Class was able to complete Underway Training successfully for the Gunnery Department as Fire Control Officer of Main Battery Plot. In fact on the long range surface shoot (10,000 yards range) as Range Operator and Plotting Room Officer he managed to set the record for the long range surface shoot with main battery 5 Inch 38 Cal guns by getting 48 rounds off in one minute or less and having 48 hits or near misses.

There was a Royal Navy Admiral observing the long range surface shoot from the tug towing the target and he radioed the CO of the Destroyer Rush to congratulate him, saying that he had never seen a Navy ship shoot that well. The CO, of course, called the Plotting Room on the 21 MC, to congratulate the Plotting Room Officer. The Destroyer passed her ORI and that First Class was a pretty cocky Sailor from that time on. And for the next 18 years he remained with that attitude of confidence and dedication to his Navy job and his country. When the crew referred to this little FT as Guns rather than twigget or other fond names that were common, it made this Sailor even more cocky.

Very Respectfully,

E. A Hughes, FTCM (SS)
US Navy (Retired)

BostonMaggie said...

Love this post!

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

To complete this story please allow a full explanation of the events. One of the jobs of the Gunnery Officer on a Man-of-War was to provide offset spots to the
computer range operator in Main Battery Plot for effective target impact of the main battery. The young First Class Fire Control Technician just prior to the long range surface shoot received the spot of add 500 yards to target range on the MK 1A computer from the Gunnery Officer. The range operator applied the required spot to the computer. And the practice run commenced. All 48 rounds were fired in less than the required time but there were no hits on the target as announced by the Captain over his sound powered phone circuit. There was nothing but silence on the sound powered phones after that. The word was announced over the IMC was that the next firing run would be for the record. The USS Rush made that long turn to be in the required position for the firing run. The entire Gunnery crew seemed despondent as they reported their station readiness over the sound powered phone circuit to Main Battery Plot. This young First Class took it upon himself to remove the range spot that the Gunnery Officer had required, because he felt that it was incorrect, he now had zero yards as the initial range spot for rounds to impact the target. The normal rocking ladder that is applied to 5 inch naval guns is first rounds on target then add 100yards for the next rounds, the following rounds are on target again, then the next rounds are subtract 100 yards from target range, then the following rounds are on target again. This is also referred to as straddling the target. The range operator felt he knew where the rounds would impact so he fudged just a little by using a rocking ladder of on target, 25 yards over, on target, 25 yards under, then back on target for the entire exercise. Range to the target was provided by the standard MK 37 Fire Control Director that utilized the MK 25 radar whose accuracy is considered to be within a few feet. As pointed out in the previous post all 48 rounds were hits or near misses. And the English Admiral did report to the Captain of the USS Rush that he never saw a Navy ship shoot as this Destroyer did. When the Captain of the destroyer called Main Battery Plot and said Plotting Room Officer, Petty Officer Hughes what did you do to shoot this well, he answered him “Captain I only removed the initial spot for cold guns that the Gunnery Officer had applied” and the Captain replied “ well done, Petty Officer Hughes”.

He was a hero for some time and fairly cocky but before his Destroyer could depart from GITMO this ship and many others found themselves very involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis of Oct 1962. And as the events unfolded for the next couple of weeks there was much anticipation and anxiety, but we as a ship and crew felt we were ready for whatever may happen.

Very Respectfully,