Steamin’ BT

Steamin’ BT

An embellishment of a story told by Jim ‘Hambone’ Hampton

He was from New Orleans. His name was S. E. Thompson. That’s all just the initials S. E. When you asked what they stood for he would tell you nothing, Just the letters.

Many years later and another ship he told me this, “My Mama was a Hippie who never grew up. She made a living by selling hand-painted greeting cards to the tourists on Bourbon Street. She didn’t work on Sundays, that was the Lord’s day. Me and my brothers and sister went to church every Sunday. My Mama had five kids, The last one, my sister was the only one born in a hospital. Pregnancy to my Mama was nothing and delivering a baby was just a little uncomfortable. Her Mama was staring at a vase of roses when she was born and named her Rose. Mama believed in tradition. She named my big brother Side Walk. She stopped to smoke a cigarette before she went into the hospital and had him right there on the sidewalk. She was on the way to the hospital with me but stopped at the Seven Eleven for a Slurpee. She delivered me right there in front of the Slurpee Machine. She named me Seven Eleven. As soon as I was old enough I went to the judge and changed it to S. E. She said if I had been a girl she woulda named me Slurpee Jane. The brother after me is named Bluebird Cab and the youngest brother is named Pinot Noir. She had him in the Liquor Store because she stopped for a bottle of wine for dinner. My sister is named Elizabeth Bob after the delivery room nurse and doctor.”

But to get back to the story. S. E. ended up in my fireroom. The recruiter had assured him the Navy had a shortage of Chaplain’s Assistants and he would let the Training Center know that he was a lay preacher in his church and highly qualified for the position. Although he decried the wrong perpetrated by the recruiter, he was game, shrugged it off as the Lord ’s will and turned to, working to be a good BT.

While the rest of the division was running the streets in Olongapo, He stayed aboard and studied his bible or went to volunteer for one task or another at the Chapel Center.

The other BT’s planned his downfall during the next Subic inport period. They took up a collection. The first-night inport, they worked out a deal with the Mama in their regular bar. The BT’s and Mama picked out the youngest, most innocent looking girl in the bar.

A couple of others came up with a story to lure him out the gate. They told him it was a BT party and he would disrespect them if he didn’t attend. Reluctantly he let them lead him to the slaughter.

When he arrived at the bar, all the BT’s were at a table, each with a girl. He refused a beer, by saying, “I don’t drink.”

BT1 said, “Of course, I forgot, Bring him a Mojo.” and to S.E., “It’s a kind of Philippine Kool-Ade.”

About the time he hit the bottom of his drink, the chosen girl walked up to him, took him by the hand and led him to the stairs. We were waiting for him to come running down the stairs and make a dash for the ship. But he was up there for over an hour. Then he came down, ordered a pitcher of that “Kool-Ade, talked with mama, Gave her some money, picked another girl and went back up. By the time to go back, he had been up there with three girls. Mama told me the next day that she had to give them the day off to rest up.

After that, you wouldn’t know him from any other steamin’ BT.

I asked him those many years later why he went with the girl and gave up his religious beliefs. He said, “Oh I still believe as strongly as I did then. But, I had an epiphany going up those stairs. ‘If the Lord didn’t mean for a man to get pussy, he wouldn’t have made them girls so damned pretty.


alt.submarine veterans … I wonder how many others are out there looking for a base?


I have been a member of USSVI for a long time now and recently joined the Naval Submarine League.

The problem with both has been proximity. Since I live in a rural location away from submarine homeports, I am reliant on a USSVI base that is neither convenient for travel or receptive to new ideas. Don’t get me wrong. They have a core group of people who keep the doors open and that is great. But like most older veterans groups, change is hard and often not desired.

I ran into a guy at a gas station near my home today who saw my dolphins on the front of my car. Turns out we both served on the USS Ohio (about ten years apart). I asked him if he was a Sub Vet and he replied that he had been at one time but the meetings are always held over an…

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The Orgy

The Orgy

By Garland Davis

I first met Ray in 1964 when I reported to the Navy Commissary Store Yokohama for duty. Ray was a CS3 on his second enlistment. I was a CS2 with barely three years’ service. The others stationed there were either brown baggers with their wives impeding safaris into the wilds of Yokohama or were unmarried non-rates with the habit of staying in the Enlisted Quarters and playing with their stereos or going to the theater for the movie.

Ray and I had some Westpac cruises under our belts and were of a like mind that good liberty started with a run to the seediest bar in the most run-down area of town. We became acquainted during my check-in tour.

The Housing Activity in Yokohama was spread out all over the city. The Headquarters were in an old racing stadium building. There were three major housing areas and numerous small clusters of houses in many places throughout the city. There was an area that contained the Commissary, Navy Exchange, Bowling Alley, Theater, Gas Station, and the Post Office. The enlisted quarters were in Bayside Courts, an old Army BOQ complex. In the days of open bay barracks, being assigned to quarters where I had my own personal room was something like paradise. There were two clubs, The Seaside Club in a housing area and the Zebra Club downtown near the Chapel Center and not far from a single sailor’s paradise, Chinatown.

Ray was assigned to drive me to the various places to get my check-in sheet signed. We went to the HQ Building and picked up the check-in sheet. The next stop was the Seaside Club where we had a liquid lunch and got most of the signatures on the check-in sheet by passing it down the bar. We figured we had accomplished as much as possible that day and spent the afternoon in the Club. That left us the Chaplain, the Post Office, and a few other signatures to get the next day. Ray explained that checking in or out was usually a three-day affair. He asked if I would like to hit Chinatown with him that night. I enthusiastically accepted his invitation.

We went to the quarters at Bayside, where he helped me arrange for the services of a maid from one of the women who provided maid service in the building. Afterward, I shifted into civilian attire and we caught a 90 Yen cab for the Zebra Club. Ray told the driver, “Skosh Hayako.” All I can say is at the time I was glad that he didn’t give him a “Full Hayako.”

Ray was the type of person who had two goals in his everyday life. Alcohol and Pussy. On payday, Ray would divide his pay into fourteen equal amounts which he placed in fourteen envelopes in a three-ring binder. He budgeted for his food, drinks, and pussy. Since we didn’t have a galley, we received extra pay to purchase our meals. You must remember in those days the exchange rate was Yen 360 to $1. The most expensive drink in the club was $0.35 and all drinks were $0.10 during Happy Hour. Meals were as cheap as $0.25 in the NEX Cafeteria.

After the taxi dropped us at the Zebra, we had a couple there and then navigated the alleys to Chinatown. My first experience in the bar life of Yokohama was the seediest joint in the most run-down area of Chinatown. The Tiger Bar on 4 ½ Street. We walked through the door and the Mama-san said “Irashai Ray-san, you want beer, deska? Ray indicated two and we sat at the bar.” The place had five barstools, three booths and including the Mama-san. three over the hill hostesses. I figured Ray had brought me to the place bar hostesses go for their twilight tour. About the time I started my second beer, the best looking one of the bunch asked me, “You want to go to a booth and I kiss your chinpo, only 500 Yen.” I must have had a confused look on my face because Ray said, “She wants to suck your dick for 500 Yen.” It turned out that the Tiger Bar sold cheap beer, cheap ass Tory’s and Nikka whiskey while giving hand jobs and blow jobs in the booths. I became a frequent customer.

Ray had the duty on the day he shipped over. Duty at the Yokohama Commissary meant that instead of getting off at 1600 you had to work until 1800. Ray collected a few hundred dollars reenlistment bonus. Ray told me we were going to party. He told me to meet him at the Tiger Bar at 1900.

I arrived shortly before the time and was just taking a bite of my first beer when Ray came through the door. The Mama-san asked Ray what he wanted. He threw 72,000 Yen ($200) on the bar and told Mama-san, “Lock the door and everybody get naked.”

That much money was a small fortune for the Japanese in those days.

A good time was had by all!


Who are you calling old?


The old Submariner

The old Submariner knows a thing or two about what Submariners are all about. But the definition is generational and the definition has changed a time or two. The original old Submariner remembers clothes smelling of sweat and gasoline. The air was putrid and the battery acid ate right through his clothes. There was only one hatch in and out and the periscope sometimes had fog on the lens which made spotting that tramp steamer coming at you a bit rough. The food was hard tack and often inedible. It isn’t matter much since hull was round and the boat rocked even in the calmest sea.

The newfangled contraptions that replaced his boat were for sissies. Diesel replaced gasoline and there were new machines to clean out the poison form the air. You could stay down longer, the periscope had some nice improvements and all manner of…

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Heavy Seas

Heavy Seas

By FTG1 Tracy Garner DD 468, DD 836, DD 884

For a tin can at sea, deteriorating weather conditions could bring anything from a bumpy ride over choppy seas to mountainous waves crashing over the main deck. It could mean a brief encounter of a few hours, or a struggle lasting several miserable days. It has been said that to appreciate the power and grandeur of nature, one could stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and gaze out over the precipice. This would surely impress upon you just how puny and insignificant you truly are. I would add that if you should do that with the wind howling and the earth pitching and rolling beneath you as you desperately cling to a small bush you could then acquire roughly the same appreciation of your puniness as does a tin can sailor riding out a storm at sea.

The way it starts: The first hint of what is to come could be the proverbial red sky at morning. Or it could be the less dramatic mid-day sky gradually becoming gray, along with the suddenly restless sea. The word would be passed to prepare for heavy seas as the wind begins to form whitecaps and whip a fine spray off the higher waves. As the waves grow larger and the wind increases, the sky and sea merge into a gray haze while the ship begins to respond with pitches and rolls of increasing magnitude with no real pattern. A certain carnival atmosphere develops and the noise level within the ship increases as a sudden heavier roll is met with exuberant whooping and hollering, often accompanied by the sound of some unsecured piece of gear crashing to the deck. This continues as the angle of the rolls increase until, at some point, the ship gradually becomes quieter. Everything that was going to fall has either fallen or been secured, and simply being about the heaving decks is no longer such great fun for the tiring crew. Now the loudest sounds heard are of the bow plunging down into the next wave trough, waves slamming against the hull, and the constant squeaking of the expansion joints. If it gets bad enough, sometimes the whole ship shudders as the screws break the surface due to the ship riding over the crest of a particularly large wave. In the pilot house, the inclinometer is now being watched as much as the chronometer as the helmsman must continually fight to keep the ship on course since winds and gravity work with the waves to skew the ship left and right.

When the carnival ride has lasted long enough but doesn’t end, one could start to see similarities between this situation and a tilt-a-whirl ride operated by a sadistic madman with the power to make the ride last as long as he wishes and even go faster. There is no emergency stop button and no way off. Storm or no storm, life goes on. The ships routine is maintained if possible, watches must be stood and ships work will still be accomplished. Everything that needed to be done still needs to be done but now the doing becomes more difficult. Any small task that requires two hands now requires two men since you can use one hand for the ship, but must reserve the other for yourself. Simply moving about the ship means keeping one hand free to grasp whatever is handy that will keep you from careening off in some unwanted, possibly dangerous, direction. Going through a watertight door often becomes a struggle as the ship rolls and the weight of the door requires all your strength to pull it closed behind you, you dare not release your grip to let the door swing uncontrolled. The interior passageways become wet and slick from the sea spray entering as people access the weather decks while moving around topside becomes a series of ungainly dashes across a pitching, rolling and dangerously slick deck. These dashes are usually made while keeping your back to the wind and the biting rain or spray. The word is passed over the 1MC for all hands to lay clear of the forecastle and fantail. It becomes too dangerous to venture there because the odd wave breaks over the decks, carrying away anything or anyone not secured. Having a meal becomes an adventure requiring you to manage your tray with one hand while alternately eating or hanging onto the table with the other, and the deck would always become slick from the inevitable spilled food. The menu would be modified somewhat, no need to make a bad situation worse. Breakfast eggs are scrambled only, no over easy (the steam line griddle is also pitching and rolling). This whole process of going to the mess deck for a meal would seem to be a lot of trouble for one with no appetite, but skipping a meal is not a wise choice. At the end of a long day, you wearily climb into your bunk and then grasp your bunk frame or chain to keep from being tossed onto the deck during a heavy roll, awake or asleep you do not give up that hold. When it is time to hit the deck you will have newly stiff and aching muscles from clinging to your bunk for hours. These aches will accompany the existing dull aches and pains accumulated from the physical struggles of the day before. You start your new day by being tired.

And then there is the sickness:

Everyone who has experienced a storm at sea more than once probably has developed his own way of coping. Some are affected more by the motion than others but I think everyone suffers to some extent. What works for one will not necessarily work for another and it is a solitary challenge to find your own way to endure. The always present, well-meaning advice may or may not be worthwhile. For example, the often suggested and timeworn trick of eating crackers is suspect. I have seen boxes of crackers eaten between bouts of cracker spewing; they may help some, but not all. In a sense, even though you are crowded together in the steel confines of the ship, when the storm hits you are very much alone.

When it comes, the nagging queasiness is yours and no one else’s. To prevent it from becoming the all-consuming seasickness requires you find some coping skills, and those can only be found within. They say seasickness is mostly a mental state, and your mental state is what you make it.

Even though the struggle to prevent the queasiness from becoming nausea and vomiting is a solitary pursuit, for the maintenance of good order and discipline, all hands must consider their shipmates. Even if you should be that rare individual who feels no ill effects from the motion, due to the lack of adequate ventilation you still do not open a can of sardines or light a cigar inside the ship. Also, there will be no whining or complaining, since anyone you can complain to will be in the same boat, so to speak. Whining is sure to bring ridicule and scorn, but no sympathy. If you do come to the point of actually needing a trash can between your knees you may receive a sympathetic word, along with a request to take it somewhere else. The smell of vomit lingers in the close confines of a space, much to the discomfort of those required to be there. Also, cleaning up vomit often results in a chain reaction. Last but not least, the considerate shipmate always pukes leeward. My first and only experience of actual, hanging over the rail, seasickness did not occur during my first or even my worst storm. After that one unforgettable episode, I decided that nothing that will likely happen at sea can be much worse than reliving that terrible day. My own experience taught me that I would fare much better by just staying too busy to give much thought to the ship’s motion. If it became too rough to work, or if I ran out of anything to do, I should simply stretch out somewhere, with my work jacket for a pillow and my ball cap over my eyes, and nap. After all, what are the chances that the Chief would leave the goat locker and come looking with some task or other, he would likely be immersed in his own storm coping ritual.

There are not that many places in a tin can where a man can stretch out and reasonably expect to be left alone. My favorite was my tiny air-conditioned Mk 25 radar room on the 01 levels, across from radio central. Any port in a storm, I suppose.

The absolute worst thing I could do was to just sit wedged in a corner thinking about my discomfort, or discussing it with a shipmate.

And then it would pass: As the worst of the storm passes, the skies begin to clear and with the sun, random rainbows appear. The seas calm, conditions quickly return to normal. The ships’ routine becomes an actual routine again as the crew cleans up the mess and repairs any damage. With the return of calm seas and clear skies, modified condition Yoke would be set and the watertight doors topside opened to help air out the interior spaces. Soon all would be just as if nothing unpleasant had ever happened and the specific memories of this storm will simply merge with those from the past.

Instead of being a place of mortal danger, the fantail is once again the crews’ preferred gathering place for scuttlebutt and socializing while watching the sunset.

Thanks to foul weather, I was once fortunate enough to have a unique experience and learn first hand, how they did it in the days of old. During a visit to Bangkok, I had bought an inexpensive hammock made with nylon netting. Taking little space, it was easy to keep rolled and stashed out of sight. While riding out one uncomfortably close typhoon I decided I should try it out at sea. The only place I knew which had room to sling a hammock fore and aft, and was normally unoccupied at night, was the ordnance shop on the 01 levels behind the after stack. I informed some people where I could be found and retired to the shop for the night. The hammock was slung between bulkheads and above the workbench with enough room to avoid hitting anything as it swung suspended high in the small space. I then turned out the lights and, using my Zippo to light my way, carefully climbed from the bench into the hammock and settled in. The experience was unlike anything I had known before. Reclined in complete darkness, snuggled down into the hammock, all sensation of the ships rolls simply disappeared. Even with the lateral motion added to the rolls due to my height above the waterline, the only apparent effect was the sense of becoming noticeably heavier and lighter as I swung wildly to and fro. I could completely relax without fear of being tossed onto the deck below. To wake hours later refreshed and feeling as if I had spent the night at a Holiday Inn was a most pleasant revelation. I have since decided that hammocks may not have been used on destroyers of the day simply because the Navy was averse to spoiling its enlisted men.

Thanks, Tracy