Visiting the Pit

Visiting the Pit

Michael McGrorty

I was A PC and had the habit of visiting friends around the ship. Once I went into the fire room and saw a pal standing watch. He was at a station keeping a log. The space must have been over 125 degrees. The station was beneath a vent that blasted AC down, but it only cooled to about a hundred degrees, if that.

I never saw anybody in the machinery spaces that wasn’t saturated with sweat. I used to tell the BTs and MMs not to carry postage in their shirt pockets because you couldn’t get a refund on ruined stamps.

Noisy? Not at all. There was just a continual background scream as if a very dull cutting tool was shaving hard steel on a lathe.

When the door to the main spaces opened into the main deck passageway, a blast of heat shot out like the lid came off a blast furnace.

They had an ice machine down there in hell, whose purpose was to provide a bit of cold for satan’s assistants. They would guzzle ice water from three-pound coffee cans.

Despite all this, the snipes would come up for chow looking like they’d been pulled through a keyhole. They got a very pale fish-belly appearance after a while. I did not envy them, no matter that their exam multiple was far below mine.

I wonder if most of them knew what the job would entail when they went in.


6 thoughts on “Visiting the Pit

  1. David Eyler says:

    No I didn’t. It was like working with the devil himself, but by God I would do it again in a heartbeat. Its been almost 40 years since I left the ship. USS Shreveport LPD-12


  2. Bruce Gabbard says:

    As far as knowing what thrills being a BT was,
    I was selected for that position, as I scored high on some test I was garentted an A school.
    Filling out our dream sheets I selected photographers mate and such. Nothing to do with working below decks in the fireroom. The counselor said I needed 1 more selection, was I good with tools???
    I didn’t know that snipes were being assigned that day!! In fact everyone in company 64-529, 528 and 530 with out an assigned rate were assigned to be snipes. Engine-man, monkey mate or BT.
    1st time in the hole on dd780 they were cold-iron
    They lit-off #1, we were changing sides of the piers, tp be next to the tender, DROPPED THE LOAD 4 TIMES,
    That’s was when I found out what “don’t sweat the load” meant. D&S piers Norfolk. That was my 1st day on the ship and in the hole


  3. Steven Miller says:

    Did not know I was headed there till I went aboard. Had High test scores, but no A school. Recruiter lied.


  4. Robert says:

    Told my chief that I wanted out of the engine room,after 6 months he got me out and I ended up in after fire room after 7 months struck out for shipfitter.who new over the 20 years in the navy that experience would be helpful down the road


  5. Vince Tooley BT1 says:

    I sold 27 years of my life for a cup of coffee. But I’m a rare survivor of hell. Collisions at sea, dredging San Diego harbor with a Carrier’s belly, from PC in bootcamp to weekend crewleader when base shutdown on 9/11. Loved it, and every face, name and command.


  6. Larry Stone says:

    Wouldn’t have any other job on a ship than a hole snipe. I have been working in, on and around ships since I was 17. Retired 6 years ago and now volunteer as a tour guide and docent on Battleship Wisconsin a museum ship in Norfolk, VA.


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