Captain’s Mast Afloat

Captain’s Mast Afloat

By Garland Davis

RM1 Jernigan (I know, he wouldn’t mind me using his real name for this story) was my friend. I was a twenty-three old kid, way too young to be a First Class Petty Officer and Claude was a thirty-five old First Class Radioman looking forward to retirement in a couple of years. What the hell, the best way I can explain our friendship, I was a cook and he liked to eat. I’ll tell the story the way he told it to me.

“It was 1949 and I was on a Fletcher Class Tin Can rocking and rolling between Taiwan and China. We had been doing the Formosa Straits patrol for a month before we were relieved. After we took on chow from a stores ship and fuel from a tanker, we departed the area for five days in Hong Kong.

The day we pulled in to Hong Kong was a good day for me. I made RM3 for the first time that day, I had a forty-eight, duty the third day, another forty-eight, and almost three paydays in my pocket.

After the first two days, I stood a duty day and then had another forty-eight. I got my days mixed up and missed ship’s movement. As soon as I realized it, I turned my self into the Station ship which was getting underway that morning.

I rode them for a couple of days until we rendezvoused with my ship and I was high lined across. As soon as I stepped on deck and started taking off the life jacket so it could be sent back across, the word was passed over the 1MC, ‘RMSN Jernigan lay to the bridge.’

That was all the formality of my C.O.’s Mast and the first time I made and lost Third…

…but not the last time.”


3 thoughts on “Captain’s Mast Afloat

  1. EyrishMik Gardiner says:

    Great story. I know it’s true because it happened to one of myshipmates in 61’ on (u guessed it) another Fletcher class. DD561. Not certain of our location but it wasn’t Taiwan Straits (monotonous 8kts north to tip of Taiwan back to southern tip near Kaoshuing) Patrol. Got another story for that boring area of heat and glassy seas.
    Anyway on the night in question. BM3 M. (Initial only he might be reading this and I didn’t ask his permission – but then haven’t heard from in 59 years). and I have the 20-24 on the bridge. I was at the lee helm. Comes time for taps. Alls quiet in the brige, Co’s in His sea cabin other side of bulkhead from the 1Mc. BM3 passes the proper “Now taps, taps, lights out, the smoking lamps is out in all berthing spaces; here’s where he went off script. he then says: “All hands turn into YOUR OWN RACKS! NITEY NIGHT POGS! Now taps!
    Before he could shut down the 1Mc the CO came flying through the hatch into the bridge. The OOD’s mouth was wide open as in oh shit! All of us watchstanders started cracking up until the Captains voice growled: “BMSN M. strike below and remove the crow on your uniforms. You’re relieved of duties as a BMOW. OOD lay to my sea cabin.!
    JOOD, You have the deck and the Conn!”
    The bridge watch in unison hollered. Aye aye sir!
    Sea going justice at its finest.


  2. Pingback: Captain’s Mast Afloat — Tales of an Asia Sailor – On the Patio

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