The Oil King

The Oil King

By Garland Davis

Oil King: The MM or BT selected for this position must display unique qualities. He must be capable of understanding liquid measures greater than the amount of that in a 50¢ picture of beer at the Club Alliance. He must also understand and be able to do arithmetical calculations as they relate to large quantities of petroleum products, feed water, and potable water. The part that really stretches the imagination, he must possess the ability to learn and perform complicated chemical tests of said liquids to ascertain purity. He must plan for refueling operations to know how much fuel is required and into which tanks to allocate it. During refueling, he is busier than a three-legged cat with diarrhea digging holes to shit in.

Things go wrong!

I was serving in an Ocean Going Tug during the late sixties. Ships this small didn’t have a Supply Corps Officer. Supply consisted of a Storekeeper, two Commissarymen, and one Steward. One of the officers was assigned collateral duty as Supply Officer. I was the senior Petty Officer in Supply. My first two years aboard, the Bos’n was the Supply Officer who pretty much let supply run itself. After he left, a brand new Ensign who had no conception of his primary Communication Officer’s job was assigned collateral duty as Supply Officer and decided to make his mark there.

The Ensign decided the Mess Decks needed retiling. I am sure you all remember, in those days, you either had a putrid green tile or a red and black checkerboard pattern. He arranged through SRF for the job to be done. Against our recommendations, he picked a white tile made by a Japanese company from a catalog at SRF.

NOTE: This was before the days when the flammability of habitability space equipment and fixtures was a big concern. END NOTE

The day after our new white mess deck was laid, we were taking Diesel from a Yard Oiler (YO). We were moored to the pier and the YO to our outboard side. The tank was located under the Mess Decks with the sounding tube amidships on the after bulkhead. The EN1 was taking soundings and yelling out the door to the YO. The Warrant machinist stopped to see how it was going. Just long enough to distract EN1, and we had a gusher of diesel through the sounding tube into the mess deck. All in all, enough to cover the deck.

When we started to clean it up, we discovered the fuel oil had degraded the tile. It was no longer tile but a gooey substance resembling hot Mozzarella cheese on a pizza and came away like big wads of bubblegum. It took all night to get it all scraped up and the metal deck cleaned.

Two days later the EN1 and I, assisted by an FN and a mess cook laid a red and black checkerboard.

The Ensign wanted to believe that EN1 had ruined his beautiful white tile deliberately.


5 thoughts on “The Oil King

  1. Don Kuhn says:

    Garland – May I copy this article for inserting into our “Quartermaster Notebook”, which we publish quarterly. It includes articles about the Navy and our Ship, the USS LEWIS DE-535 which we were the first ship stationed in Guam in 1958.



    The Oil King Is a demanding job. Taking Care of Boiler water, Fresh water and Oil supply for the ship. Must be recommended and a letter, signed by the Captain of the ship as the Ships Oil & Water King and that letter posted in the Oil Lab. I was the Ship’s Oil & Water King for the USS Frank Cable, around 1985, as a First Class and then as Chief. This was one of my greatest accomplishments while in the Navy. I’m retired now.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s