The Shipfitters Shop

Time spent onboard a ship that moves through the water at underway speeds of 12 to 14 knots can get tedious and boring. The crew finds ways to relieve the boredom by messing with the minds of their shipmates.

The shipfitters shop was in charge of the maintenance of the fire and flushing system. The fire main had a constant pressure of 100 psi, and the flushing system was reduced down to 15 psi through a reducing station. If the shipfitters bypassed the reducing station, everything in the toilet flushed UP instead of down at a pressure of 100psi!

This was apparently what happened, as standing before me in the shipfitters shop was the most angered man I had ever encountered. He was dripping wet, had toilet paper hanging from both ears, and a turd in his shirt pocket. He was threatening to kill everyone in the shop. He left after I had calmed him down a little, but not until he swore to get even. The personnel in the shipfitters shop claimed to have no knowledge of the nasty gusher which everyone knew they had created. The angry man was transferred, losing the opportunity to carry out his threat.

The shipfitters shop's main function was repair, metal work, and damage control. We claimed we could weld the crack of dawn. It also served as the unofficial crew lounge where the sailors would sit around the bending slab playing cards, smoking, drinking coffee, and telling lies about why they joined the Navy. It was group therapy at its most basic level.

Because it was also the largest compartment on the landing ship where I was stationed, it was ideal as a movie theater. It was after a movie when several members of the crew were gathered around the bending slab engaged in a discussion of how addictive cigarette smoking is, and how it even affects your sex life. Suddenly a pack came flying through the air, sending cigarettes everywhere. One sailor had decided to quit smoking on the spot. The group therapy sessions were very effective.

2001 Maurice D Karst