Mess Deck Master at Arms
By Garland Davis
Mess Deck Master at Arms: The perfect MDMAA is a psychotic son of a bitch who is so eaten up with OCD that his folks had to toilet train him at gunpoint and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks. He needs the psychotic demeanor to abuse the mess cooks to do their work and the crew to maintain order in the mess line and the mess decks. Presenting a willingness to commit violence on anyone who pisses him off is beneficial. There are so many details to pay attention to that the OCD condition is extremely helpful. The ability to not care what others think is a necessary trait because everyone hates his guts.
The XO hates him because the Mess Decks and scullery never meet his expectations of cleanliness and sanitation. The mess cooks hate him because he is a hard taskmaster who insists the work be done correctly.. The crew hates him because he won’t let them grab-ass or yell in the mess line, because he won’t let them delay after eating and forces them to give up their seats to others waiting to eat, because he won’t let them hang out in the Mess Decks or use the tables to do paperwork between meals. The CMAA hates him because he can’t control him like he does the other Neanderthal thugs in the MAA Force.
It is a frustrating duty. Anyone going fore or aft must pass through the mess decks. The entrance to an engineering space is in the mess deck and as soon as the deck is stripped and fresh wax laid, while waiting for it to dry every fucking engineer on the ship has to go into and out of that space and everyone aft must go forward and vice versa. The ladder down to supply is in the aft port side of the mess decks and everyone else just has to get to supply. And, of course, they cannot wait until the wax is dry.
The best MDMAA’s usually come from Deck, Weapons, and Engineering Departments. Not so much from the other departments.
The best MDMAA I ever saw was a BM1. He was large enough to create fear in everyone. I saw the XO back off and take another route instead of walking on BM1’s clean deck. He maintained silence in the mess line. If you weren’t talking to the food server, you kept your mouth shut. His solution to someone jacking his jaws in the line was to bounce the malefactor off the bulkhead, two or three times.
I always took a couple of hours to counsel Petty Officers assigned to MDMAA. I tried to make sure they understood that it was probably the only job, short of Command Master Chief, they would have that was a pure leadership position. I also made sure they understood that after three months I would submit a special evaluation on their performance that could be a crucial factor in their future promotions.
I have had Chiefs and Division Officers pissed at me because I gave a poor leadership rating to “one of their best” PO1’s. I’ll not piss anyone off here by telling you the ratings.
3 thoughts on “Mess Deck Master at Arms”
Garland, I was one of the so called “thug” MAA’s on the USS Detroit (AOE-4) in 1978. I served as the Ass’t CMAA, as an RM1 (we had too many RM1’s in radio) and myself and the MMA’s generally appreciated the MDMAA’s efforts to control the chow lines. The “Dirty D” was a very rough ship full of racial strife, rampant drug dealing, assaults occurring even on CPO’s and officers! This not hyperbole. Any TAD assignment I could scrounge up made my life a little less chaotic.
Guess I was lucky on My Tin Can, being the lead cook after Fram, never had a problem with the cmaa’s on the ship, as the only time I went on the mess deck, was to go to the head, which was forward of the mess deck, and our everything was under the steam tables
My last ship, USS Samuel Gompers, my Chief and I never saw eye to eye. I was a better HT, he was slightly more adept at the DC side. Somehow he found out I had never done mess deck duty, so he took his lead HT1 in Engineering R Division, me, and made me the MDMAA for the ships final West Pac.
Didn’t mind at all. I was still the Fire Marshal underway, but no duty in port, so lots of off time during port stays.
Wasn’t as bad as the person made it sound in this story. Just babysitting a bunch of newbies.