Monday, July 24, 2017

Who am I? What am I doing here?

Where as I am now seventy five years old, I thought that it is about time for a new assesment.
There are certain givens, such as I am a father and a grandfather. I am involved with the nicest and best woman I have ever met and I am a transplanted Clevelander living in SoCal. 
But what about the less obvious.
I have always been the the kid, the upstart. The guy who dives into things and makes them right without expecting as much as a thank you. 
I am a sailor in every sense of the word. I spent eight plus years in the US Navy. I had everything go my way while in the Navy. I went to Guidedmissileman A School at Virginia Beach as an E3 a Seaman First Class. We weren't allowed to take the E4 Third Class Petty Officer while in A School. Our class graduated on a Friday. The semiannual E4 exam was held on the following Monday. The next day we flew to Pomona, CA for Terrier BT3 C School. One week before we graduated from C School, I was informed that I had passed the E4 exam and would be promoted on May first. 
When I reported for duty at my first duty station at NAD Crane Indiana on May third, I was a pettyofficer. One year later, I was a second class PO. 
I reported to Missile Technician B School as a second class PO. Nine months later, I reported for duty on my first ship, an aircraft carrier where I took the First Class exam. Six months later I was transferred to new construction at Todd Shipyard in Seattle where I promptly sewed on my First Class crow. At the time I was the youngest First Class PO in the entire US Navy at the ripe age of twenty one. Three years later I turned down Chief Petty Officer. I didn't want to be a twenty four year old CPO. Chiefs lived in the chief's quarters, AKA The Goat Locker, and I didn't want to live with these lifers. I had already decided the I wanted out of  the Navy and wanted to go to college.
In 1968, I got out. We shot a bird, missile, the day before at the pacific Missile Range and pulled into the Ammunition Depot at Seal Beach to rearm. Being I was a Plank Owner, I had them pipe me over the side and became a civilian.
Life was good as a civilian.  I had marketable skills and had no problem finding employment. I had good jobs, finished college and  traveled the world on an expense account. I became a real estate agent selling apartment buildings in Lon Beach and made lots of money. I had Norton Commandos, Porches, Mercedes and Cadillacs. I sold industrial instrumentation and had sailboats which I lived aboard. I ended up starting a company that built plastics forming machinery and made quite a good name for myself.
The bad news is in 2013, I had a stroke. T the time, I had a schooner which I lived aboard for thirty five years.  I could no longer handle the five sails that we ran around on.
I now find myself as a codger. Seventy five is an old man by anyone's criteria. I now live on a forty foot trawler power boat and take a nap most every day.
I'm not complaining. I have a wonderful relationship with a girl who is my intellectual double. I drive a BMW 325ci convertible I have two grandchildren and I do the occasional machine upgrade with no heavy lifting. We have taken cruises to Alaska and through the Panama Canal.
I guess that I really don't have anything to bitch about but I am a bit uncomfortable being 75.
Like Micky Mantle said "If I knew that I was going to live this long, I probably would have taken better of myself."   



Sunday, June 18, 2017

SAILING 101

I don't want to come across as a know-it-all but I have been sailing for over fifty five years and have picked up a few things along the way.
I first started out at my first Navy duty station. I joined the Navy to see the world and after attending various guided missile schools I was finally dispatched to Southern Indiana, NAD Crane. Crane is 110 sq. miles of high explosives quietly tucked  away in Indiana farm country. Most all of the sailors at Crane hated the place. We were a small bunch of young, horny sailors and there just wasn't much to do there. The was Lake Greenwood on the base and there was a 17 foot Rebel sailboat for recreational use. We would take the boat out in the afternoons without lessons or experience. For better or worse, we were self-taught. Two years later, while stationed for new construction at Todd Shipyard in Seattle I used to rent a 22 footer and sail it in Lake Washington. 
Later on while home ported in Long Beach I used to rent Sabots at Naples. When we went aground at Midway Island I checked out an 18 footer from special services and circumnavigated Midway Island.
After getting out of the Navy in 1972 I bought a brand new Venture 222, a 22 foot trailerable sloop with a Mercury outboard motor. I named her Tumwater.



We sailed that little craft to Catalina Island many times and towed the boat all over SoCal, Arizona and  Nevada and sailed in the many lakes, mostly manmade. In 1975 I graduated up to a used Columbia 28 that I lived aboard at Port Royal marina in Redondo Beach. Due to my lack of imagination, I named her Tumwater 2.


Tumwater 2 had an inboard engine, wheel steering, a real galley and a private stateroom for the owner. With two quarter berths, a convertible dining table and the stateroom, she would sleep six people.
By now I viewed myself as an old sailing hand. It was easy peasy. Hoist the mainsail and motor into the wind. When clear of very hard objects such as rocks and oil tankers hoist the jib and kill the engine.
In 1977 we bought a brand new 41 foot Taiwan built Garden ketch which we christened Bianco, which means white in Italian.


 Bianco was beyond big, she was huge. She had a diesel engine and a separate shower in the head. She even had a crew's quarters up in the forecastle with a separate  hatch to gain access.

Being a Ketch, she also had a second, mizzen, mast. You could actually trim up on a point of sail, lock the wheel and use the mizzen sail as a sort  of autopilot. She would track for hours if trimmed up properly.
Back in 1974, when sailing back from Catalina on Tumwater, a vision of beauty  sailed by us. She was an old wooden schooner and her name was Diosa Del Mar, Goddess Of The Sea. 
Since that very day, I was smitten by schooners. In 1979, we sold Bianco for very personal reasons and I started shopping for a schooner. All we could find was old, pre 1920, wooden boats. I had neither the time or inclination to make the care and feeding of a geriatric wooden boat my life's work. We finally found a boat that fit all of our parameters.  She was a Downeaster 38 Schooner.
This is Merrymaid under "normal" sail.  Normal sail consisted of five sails. From fore to aft: Yankee Jib, Fore Staysail, Main Stailsail, above it is the Fisherman and lastly is the Mainsail.
To say that I loved this boat would be an extreme understatement. I owned her for thirty five years. Lived aboard her for thirty two of those years and went through three of my four wives with her. 
Not only is she pretty, note above right, but a joy to sail. Keeping all of those sails trimmed up. 
This is the old girl showing off her Gollywobbler, the big Red White and Blue sail. 
Next time I'll talk about how to sail a schooner in Sailing 102.
 
 
 


 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

TAKE THE BULLET TRAIN





Yesterday, over a “few” beers I told my friend Dennis about one of my stays in Japan.
In the mid seventies, I was working at Kawasaki Steel in Kobe Japan. I was installing a Zenzamer rolling mill that would be making transformer steel. The mill itself was built by Waterbury Ferrel in Waterbury Connecticut. A zenzamer mill is a complicated machine that rolls extremely precise cold roll steel. I worked for LFE Corp who built the control system. It was a non-contact guage that used a radioactive Americium isotope gamma source that could penetrate steel. The gauge also automatically controlled the gauge, thickness, of the steel in real time.
Working in Japan was a real adventure. I stayed at the Hotel Newport, what would be called a boutique hotel nowadays. It was a real Japanese hotel, not at all like a Holiday Inn, with tatami mats and in the evening after dinner your little Japanese bed was laid out on the floor. I met a sweet young girl in Kobe and we would take the Bullet Train to Kyoto which is one of the top places in the world to visit. We attended a Moody Blues concert one Friday at the civic auditorium. We were running late when we arrived and little honey san said that we wouldn't be let in. I scoffed and replied that this is a rock concert, everybody's late. She countered that this is Japan and things are different here. Sure enough, when we arrived, we were barred at the door. The good news was when the warmup act was through, they let us late comers in for the big show. Needless to say, it was a far cry from SoCal concerts. 
But I digress.
I and the guy from Waterbury worked all day in the extremely clean mill. Japanese factories are much different than most other plants. Not only are they clean but if a Japanese foreman tells a worker to pick up a hose, or something, the worker doesn’t say not my job, he bows and then runs over to the hose, or whatever and coils it and hangs it up.
My Waterbury cohort was actually a pilot in the Luftwaffe in WWII. It was in the waning days of the war and he was only sixteen years old. He received about a weeks worth of flight training and then he got a pat on the ass and stuck in a Messerschmidt. He only flew three or four missions and then the war was over. He was a happy guy just to be still alive.
When we were done at the job, I called our trading company in Tokyo and they rightfully  advised me to buy my ticket and call the office back so they could have someone pick me up at the train station because if you get lost at the Tokyo train station, you might as well be lost in the desert, the station is like an iceberg. Ninety percent of it is below the surface.  They needed the train and seat number, the Shinkangsen, bullet train, is as all things Japanese, very prompt. Not one minute late or one minute early.  If they know the seat number I'll be sitting in, they will know the car number. On the platform, there are colored squares with numbers painted in them. At the precise time the train is due to arrive, the door to your car number will be aligned with the square and my driver will be waiting with his sign.
OK, I bought my ticket and I walked over to the telephones. All of a sudden, it hit me. I had no idea how to make a long distance phone call in Japan. In Japan on side of a business card is in English horizontally. On the reverse side it is in Japanese charictors and is vertical. I was standing by the phones with a handful of yen in my left paw and the trading company's vertically held card in my right hand. A well dressed Japanese gentleman approaches me and as he takes the card out of my hand asks in unaccented English "What's the matter, don't you know how to make a long distance phone call in Japan." He reads the English side and makes my call for me chatting in Japanese on the phone. When he is done, I am flabbergasted  and ask him where he is from. He replies Chicago. He tells me how he owns a Japanese restaurant in Chicago and the price of the disposable  wooden chopsticks is skyrocketing being the wood has to be imported into Japan. He tells me that he asked fellow Asian Restaurant owners that if he bought a chopstick machine and set it up in Chicago, would they buy chopsticks from him at greatly reduced prices. Of course they all said yes. 
He then flew to Japan and visited relatives and had a great time. Finally, he had to justify his trip and went to some large plant that made chopstick machines. He told me that they were beautiful machines but they all made bamboo chopsticks. He inquired as to where he could get a wooden chopstick machine and they replied, Chicago.  
By now, if you don't know the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story, I'll tell you. A fairy tale starts out once upon a time. The sea story starts out this is no shit.
And this is no shit.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Long Beach

   We arrived in Long Beach on Halloween 1064. The moment I stepped off of the ship I though I like this place. I want to stay here. We had bought a new 1964 Turbocharged Corvair Monza Spyder Convertible in Seattle. It was a fantastic car. To this day, I still love that car. In December, I went out and bought a Christmas tree. I hauled it to the car and thought, oh shit, the trunk is in the front of the car. I then thought here I am in California in the middle of December and it's 72 degrees outside. So I dropped the top and stuck the tree in the back seat. I love California.
   One of the first things we did after arriving in Long Beach was to take on a load of 39 missiles which took most of the day. When loaded, some sandcrab handed me an IBM punch card and told me to sign here. On the card was the description Missile Unit of issue Each quantity of 39 and on the upper right hand corner it said 5.7M. Nothing else. Now by now I was familiar with these cards but normally it would show the cost $3.95, or whatever. I asked the sand crab what the hell the M stood for and he said "Million". Now this was 1964 and that was a hell of a lot of money and I was only 21 years old at the time but what the hell, I just made the largest purchase of my  life. Now that we had some toys to play with, we went playing. I was the only guy in the Missile Division that had mad a missile shot so they wanted me upstairs in the missile control radar room to man the console. Everything went along just fine until the end of the shot. The warheads on the missiles were the continuous rod type. The most effective "hit" is actually a four of five foot pass by.  This gives the rod bundle a bit of time to start forming its buzz saw shape. The missile passed by the target but the drone came to a full stop from 375 knots to zero all at once and just hoovered there. I grabbed a pair of binoculars and went out on what we called "the patio" a small weather  deck just outside the radar room. The director was not moving at all and still tracking the target. I sighted up to where the director was pointing and said oh. The Missile Officer was standing next to me and asked what I meant by oh. I passed him the binocs and he looked up and said oh. A chief was standing next to him and grabbed the binocs looked up and said oh and so it went down the line. The jet propelled drones that they use as  targets aren't cheap so they pop a parachute for recovery. The bird apparently made skin to skin contact with the deone and knocked the chute loose and with no weight on it, it just floated around way up in the air.
   After that we spent time off of San Clemente Island learning the intricacies of the 5"/54 naval gun and it's associated fire control system.
   We spent quite a bit of time operating out of San Diego learning  
   


Becoming a Tincan Sailor

   When I first saw my new ship she was laying alongside a pier at Todd Shipyard.
   Her hull was haze gray, aluminum and the superstructure was green zinc chromate. There were no barrels in the 5" guns and the was a thousand electrical cables and hoses laying everywhere. She looked a mess much like a woman two hours before going out for the evening. I was part of the precom, precommissioning, crew. The precom guys job was to learn every square inch of the ship from the bilges to the missile radar room. It was very interesting being most sailors rarely get beyond the spaces where they work, eat and sleep. I arrived in Seattle in February of  1964 and until I got out in 1968, every time that ship moved,  I was aboard her. We went out on several yard trials with the yard birds, shipyard personell, manning the engines and steering etc. This was a bit unnerving for the few sailors actually aboard as we all felt that only real Navy people could man a war ship. The future captain was particularly nervous as was his nature. He was only a speedbump up on the bridge. I suppose that he could  see his beautiful new ship meeting every maritime disaster known in the Western World. But, in fact, the yardbirds did a reasonably good job and we made it back in one piece every time. The USS Stoddard DDG-22  was  being built next door at the Puget Sound Bridge and Drydock Corp. DDG-22 was not only behind DDG-24. But had to be towed in most every  time she went on her yard trials much to our collective amusement.  The last trial was the most fun. We blasted through the Strait of Juan De Fuca at full flank speed for several hours. The actual speed was classified information and maybe still is, but it was way faster than I though was possible for a  4,500 ton ship. I was told by a yardbird that they had a monitor on the shafts for the RPM. It supposedly could tell at what point the screw would twist itself off of the shaft. Then a throttle stop was brazed on as the wartime emergency stop. Then they would back off a few turns and attach a plastic stop that could be torn off in an emergency. 
   In August, the ship was towed, cold iron, to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard. There were only five, or so, people on board for this evolution. This is before the Navy had crowes on the blue work jackets. I was all by my lonesome up on the forward line and we had no power for the winch. I was sweating like hell and some brand new Ensign was screaming at me to heave around or some such bullshit. I, at that time, was the youngest E-6 in the Navy and a young looking 21 year old at that. As I ripped off my jacket and flung it to the deck I and turned to him and hollered back that "You could give me a fucking hand". He was about to practice ass chewing but then noticed all of my stripes and sheepishly said "What can I do to help?" We finally got the mother tied up and I lit up a smoke and he bummed one off of me. We stayed chummy after that.
    On 28 August we commissioned the old girl and she became officially United States Ship Waddell DDG-24. DD for destroyer and the G denotes guided missile armed. Eighty per cent of the crew was straight out of NTC, boot camp and had never seen a real ship. Now that I was an "old salt" we screwed with the boots a lot which is part of naval tradition. I was assigned to helm/leehelm train the helmsmen how to steer a ship. I had steered a ship, a small ship but a warship, on Lake Erie when I  was in the reserves. Me and this other first class a GMG, Gunners Mate Guns as opposed to a GMM Gunners Mate Missile would come up to the bridge eating porkchops and the boots would end up barfing into a shitcan, a trash can. It was good clean fun but like most really good things, it didn't last long enough. The boys turned into men way too fast. 

Next Long Beach California.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS

In November of 63, I finally went aboard a Navy warship. An aircraft carrier USS Constellation CVA-64. It was docked at North Island in Coronado CA across the bay from San Diego.
  By now, I was a Missile Technician second class with a hashmark on my uniform, for every four years in the US Canoe Club you added a hashmark. I don't know the official name for them, probably service stripes, but everyone called them hashmarks. When I came on board, everyone assumed I had considerable sea time, which I didn't. No one asked me what my prior duty stations were and I never volunteered. A school, C school, shore duty and B school weren't real duty stations. I kept my big mouth closed and listened a lot and soon could talk a pretty good game as a real sailor. The adventure was finally beginning.
    I was very glad that I was now actually a crewmember of a ship but I didn't like life aboard a birdfarm. There are several navys. There is the submarine Navy, the battleship/cruiser navy, the gator Navy who transport the Marine jarheads to the beach head, the CBs, the aviation Navy and then the real navy, destroyers.   
    There are actually two vastly different Navys on a carrier, or bird farm. There are the black shoe guys who run the engines and make the electricity the engineers, or snipes. The bosun's mates, gunner's mates, signalmen, radarmen and Missile Technicians and all the others who make the ship run, supply the food and supplies are also black shoes.
    Then there are the aviation personell for which the birdfarm exists. In all fairness, it is their ship. Why the name brownshoe for aviation you may ask? I'm glad that you did. Pilots and other aviation officers wear green uniforms with brown shoes, hence the name. The captain of an aircraft carrier, by law, is a Naval Aviator. If you are an aviator you can't get promoted to Admiral if you hadn't had command of a birdfarm and you can't have command of a birdfarm unless you had command of a deep draft vessel. 
    Deep draft vessels are mostly supply ships that carry food and other stores, oilers that carry the fuel that the ships and aircraft need to have and ammunition ships that keep us supplied with munitions and bombs. Any time we went along side of a supply it was a good bet that the skipper of the auxiliary was a naval aviator. Naval Aviators are brave, smart men but quite frankly, they don't know shit about commanding a ship. Especially an aircraft carrier.
   On the destroyer one day over in WestPac we were coming along side an ammo ship. Mount 52, our after five inch gun was pointing up at an odd angle with a fire hose  stock in the muzzle splaying water all over the place. The skippers usually chat to one another via bullhorns and the brown shoe ammo ship captain asked what was up with the after gun mount. Our skipper hollered back "hot gun". The brown shoe usually has a black shoe commander right at his elbow. We could see him ask the black shoe what the hell a hot gun was. The other officer explained that a hot gun is when a projectile gets stuck in the barrel due to overheating. The gun gets a hose stuck down in it's barrel  to cool it down. When cooled down, a gunners mate sticks a long brass rod down the barrel and drives the projectile back down and out through the breach. A task I would be reluctant to do. The ammo ship did an emergency breakaway and got as much water between us as fast as he could.
   But I digress.
   Life on the carrier is like being on a cruise ship. You can eat twenty one hours a day. There is a one hour break between meals and they are back in business. There was closed circuit TV and you could go up on the oh eleven deck, IE 11 stories up and watch flight ops. It is an amazing sight to see but pretty soon you realize that you don't want to know what is going on "on the roof". Also like a cruise ship, it gets crowded. With an airgroup aboard, there is over 6500 sailors aboard. I was volunteered to be the Messdeck Master at Arms. Essentially the cop who keeps the peace and enforces good behavior and manners on the messdeck. Twelve hours on and twelve hours off. It was long hours but being I was bunked with the commissarymen, the real cooks, I and we ate real well.    
I spent about six months on the bird farm with a MidPac cruise to Hawaii. Did a few missile shots when one day I was summoned to the ships personell office. I had to have one of my strikers guide me to the office being the ship was so large. We passed a big compartment which looked like a Walmart. I asked the kid who was an older hand on the ship and he replied that it was the ships store. I said what the hell was that place back by where we slept sold cigarettes and lighters and watches and he replied that it was like a  quickey mart. This huge place was the ship's store. I was told at the personell office that I was going to new construction in Seattle and I was needed in three days.
   I packed my seabag and left the ship, went to where my wife was working and gave her the news. I didn't know how long I'd be there or where the ship was going to be home ported so we had our furniture and other belongings stored in San Diego the lucky wife went to her parents in Cleveland and I was Seattle bound.  





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NAD CRANE, INDIANA AND MT B SCHOOL

After seven months of Guidedmissileman A School and three months of Terrier BT-3 C School, I was finally ready to get to my first duty station. As you complete a Navy school, you are given a "dream sheet". Most every sailor knows what a dream sheet is and why they are called such. You put on the dream sheet  three choices of assignment. They are called dream sheets because only in a dream will you actually get your pick. There's the doctrine of "The need of the service comes first". Out of our class of six, two guys got orders to NAND Seal Beach. Arguably the finest shore billet in the whole Navy. North Orange County and not too far from LA. Two others got new construction on the East Coast. George and me got NAD Crane Indiana. None of us ever heard of  Crane and thought that maybe this was some lame brain's idea of a joke. It wasn't a joke and George and I weren't laughing. 
Tom one of the East coast new construction guys was driving his brand new Corvair back to Maine so I bummed a ride with him so we could share expenses. This was in May of 1961 and the Interstate Highway System construction was just getting under way. We drove east on route 66 most of the way. Four years later when I drove the same route it was worlds different. The road was bigger , flatter, smoother and a lot less interesting. 
The Mojave Desert wasn't at all like the deserts that I saw in the movies. Phoenix was still a sleepy little cattle town. The was The Whiting Brothers' chain of gas stations on 66 placed strategically apart. Every time the gas gauge dropped to 1/4 of a tank, a Whiting Brothers loomed ahead. We gassed up at Whiting Brothers  until they ran out around Chicago. Damned near ran out of gas because we were so acclimated to stopping at the trusty Whiting stations along the way. 
While in Cleveland, I bought my first car. I must regress a moment and state what my definition of Cleveland is. Cleveland is anywhere between Harrisburg Pennsylvanian  and Chicago. The car was a 1957 Plymouth Fury. One of the very handsomest cars ever built in that era. It was as crappy as it was beautiful. It broke down almost as fast as I could fix things. For fifty years, I never bought another Chrysler product. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. 
Somewhere between Pomona and Cleveland my advancement became effective. I left Pomona as a lowly GSSN and arrived at Crane as a full fledged third class pettyofficer. Crane was like being in a comedy movie. Everything was very strange. Crane was in the boondocks, 125 miles south of Indianapolis in farm country. The place was 110 square miles of stored ammunition. The central storage facility for both the East  and West coasts. I was attached to Guided Missile Service Unit 219, gumshoe to the sailors. Crane had about 2500 civilian workers  and maybe twenty sailors at the GMSU. At 1600, all civilians went home except for the base fire department. Fire safety was a major concern there. We had special conductive sole safety shoes issued to us to prevent static sparking, you had to grab a brass handle and you had to pass an automated conductivity test in order for the pneumatic door to open and all windows on any second floor had sliding-boards to facilitate a speedy exit should thing turn to shit. As a very small group of sailors exiled in the middle of nowhere, there was no regular facilities such as clothing and small stores, so Claude our Storekeeper made a jaunt up to the very large naval station at Great Lakes. We would make up our shopping lists and Claude would buy everything for us. In 1962, Claude came back from Great Lakes without any GS crows. 
He was told that there was no such thing as Guidedmissilemen in the navy. He was offered no further explanation. Crows are navy talk for the rate insignia of petty officers. It gets it's name from the eagle above the chevrons. The officer in charge of the GMSU had to call Washington to find out what the hell was going on. What was going on was we were re-designated as Missile Technicians, MTs. In typical navy fashion, nobody bothered to tell the GSs, or the MTs or whatever. Next trip up to "the lakes", Claude came back with a bale of MT crows, no problem now. 
We. as sailors, had a reputation to maintain and it was as if the locals expected us to perform. We drank heavily and handled high explosives while in that state. My best friend was Bart Hart a wiry self-proclaimed cowboy from Wyoming. Bart and I remained friends until the day he died a few years ago and I miss him much. We terrorized the local farm country, got into brawls as sailors are required by law to do and wooed the local country girls. Or should I say that they wooed us. Most of the local gals didn't much care for the rural life and they knew that sooner or later the sailors would be moving on. Either by transfer or discharge. Not one of my mates said I like it here, I think I'll stay. Because of this, the local girls wanted to meet and marry a sailor and a lot of them did marry their ticket out. In March of 1962. I reenlisted into the regular Navy for six years for a number of reasons; a large reenlistment bonus, orders out of rural Indiana and a billet at MT B School in Vallejo California. MT B School was, at the time, the most comprehensive school in the navy. Forty hours a week of what amounted to four years of a college level Electrical Engineering program. Very intense but it was fashioned so that after you graduated from B School you could walk aboard any ship or submarine in the navy and take over the missile division. We learned all about the Talos, Terrier, Tartar and Polaris missiles. The idea of my going through MT B School was so I could get accepted into NESEP, Navy Enlisted Scientific Educational Program. In NESEP you reenlisted for six years and would study Electrical Engineering at a school such as UCLA, Northwestern, MIT etc. After two years of successful studies, you would extend for another two years. This meant that if Uncle Sam gave you four years of collage, fully paid, you would give Uncle Sam back four years of your life. It was a very fair exchange in my humble opinion. As it is said, the best laid plans of mice and men... For political reasons, a feud between the FBI and the US Navy over my secret clearance, I was denied NESEP. I didn't cry about it. To this day very few people know about this, so I just carried on as a proud and loyal sailor. I had received an excellent technical education that has served me well to this day and I got to be a real sailor. A real blessing.  
I finally got orders to a real ship as a PO2 with a hash mark on my sleeve without ever actually  being on a ship. She was the aircraft carrier USS Constellation CVA-64. She was the second newest CVA in the navy, Enterprise CVA-65 was the newest. Apart from the nuclear power plant and the square island on the Big E, they were the same ship.