What “Standardization” Means In The Navy

Posted by Chris van Avery on 30Jul10.

Here’s something that always frustrated me during 13 years aboard ships: “standardization” never seems to mean what a normal person would think. For example, read this post to one of the forums to which I belong:

SUBJ: [7-meter Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats] come in 4 Different Sizes

Did you know there are 4 different manufacturers of 7M RHIBS? And each boat has a different hull profile which means it won’t rest properly in the skids unless it has the boat davit shoes meant for that particular hull. I didn’t know this until we found a ship that had the improper boat davit shoes held in place with duct tape. If you change a boat out, it’s up to the ship to recognize whether you got a boat from a different manufacturer and the procedure is to put a 2K [a request to change the configuration of your boat cradle] in to get new boat davit shoes made.

This doesn’t make sense to me as that means you’ll have the wrong shoes for a couple of months until the 2K gets acted on. [emphasis added]

At a more fundamental level, it doesn’t make sense to me that we have four different boats built to the same spec and represented as interchageable, that aren’t actually…you know… interchangeable . As a veteran of two tours as a 1st LT, though, I saw this sort of stupidity all the time.

  Reflections On Old Glory

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 12Jun09.

This post was first published in 2005, but but I thought it fitting to republish in honor of Flag Day, which falls on Sunday.

The Stars and Stripes began its history as the symbol of thirteen distant colonies who picked a fight over principles that endure today, to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights like Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Some years later, Francis Scott Key immortalized what he called the “star spangled banner” as a symbol of perseverance and bravery.

It didn’t take long for another nation to acknowledge the Stars and Stripes as the symbol of a free and independent nation. In February 1778, John Paul Jones sailed into Quiberon Bay aboard the Ranger and received a 9-gun salute from the French fleet anchored there in return for the 13 guns fired from Ranger. It is fitting that Captain Jones was the first to accept this honor on America’s behalf, for he was also the first to force a foreign warship to strike her colors in deference to the spirit and determination of the colonies. It also seems odd in this time, reflecting on recent history, that the first acknowledgement of the ascendancy of America, and the most famous symbol of the great gift America gave the world, the Statue of Liberty, both came from France. Often, the most bitter of arguments arise between friends.

Like our great Nation, the flag has developed with us, and developed a symbolism all its own. As the years passed, a star was added for each new state that joined the Enterprise, and for a while a stripe was added, too. Eventually the number of stripes was fixed at thirteen in memory of those fragile, daring colonies, but stars continued to be added to proclaim the flood tide of freedom.

The symbolism of our flag has been often debated, but never wholly defined. It has been claimed that the red represents valor, zeal and fervency; the white, liberty, hope and purity; and the blue, loyalty, justice and truth. Perhaps the best interpreter was a man who helped forge the Nation our flag represents, one who was there when the Stars and Stripes were born, George Washington. He said, “[w]e take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.”

Old Glory continues today to be the source of both inspiration and discord. Most see it as a symbol of home. Many see it as an icon of freedom and opportunity written in red, white and blue. A few look at the flag and only see the mistakes America has made in the pursuit of her ideals. And sadly, a growing number will remember the flag as the last blanket that comforted a lost son, father, sister or comrade-in-arms, or as a token from a grateful nation for performing the heavy lifting of democracy.

I have a flag of my own that I acquired on my first ship. It flew proudly from the mast as we launched strikes to push the army of Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. It flew again from another ship as we hurried to sea and prepared for war just hours after madmen murdered thousands of our countrymen in New York. Most recently, it flew from the yard of yet another warship as landing craft streamed ashore, carrying Marines bound for Najaf, determined to bring lasting freedom to victims of oppression. I do not know where and when mine will fly again, but it is my hope and prayer that a Star Spangled Banner will fly always, somewhere, reminding those who gaze upon it of our enduring virtues and infrequent vices. As Francis Scott Key wrote,

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  Swallowing the Anchor, With Style

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 08May08.

Lex is deep in heavy thoughts as he contemplates a future out of uniform. Thirty years is a long time for anyone, and I’d wager the good captain has seen more in those thirty years than most see in a lifetime. But he won’t be the first to return to shore and resettle with landsmen.

. . . thereafter go thy way, taking with thee a shapen oar, till thou shalt come to such men as know not the sea, neither eat meat covered with salt; yea, nor have they knowledge of ships of purple cheek, nor shapen oars which serve for wings to ships. And I will give thee a most manifest token, which cannot escape thee. In a day when another wayfarer shall meet thee and say that thou hast a winnowing fan on thy stout shoulder, even then make fast thy shapen oar in the earth and do goodly sacrifice to the lord Poseidon, even with a ram and a bull and a boar, the mate of swine, and depart for home and offer holy hecatombs to the deathless gods that keep the wide heaven, to each in order due. And from the sea shall thine own death come, the gentlest death that may be, which shall end the foredone with smooth old age, and the folk shall dwell happily around thee. This that I say is sooth.

From book XI of The Odyssey , by Homer

In this business one becomes accustomed to, even comfortable with, seeing Sailors come and go. The service is elastic enough to fill the gaps the departed leave, but on one day or perhaps a few, hardship will draw near and the normally unspoken will broach the surface. In that fleeting moment where a small bit of history is made one Sailor will utter, “We need someone like Lex”, and all will remember.

  Missed Opportunities

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 29Apr08.

This news from Miami reminded me of a bitter experience a few years back on another ship:

About 2,500 sailors and seven U.S. Navy vessels are set to anchor in Port Everglades on Monday and spend the rest of the week on shore leave.

We were supposed to go the the Mother of All Fleet Weeks in New York. We got sent to Haiti instead.

It was not a fair trade.

Oh, and it looks like they’re doing COMRELs in Miami, too.

The sailors are also scheduled to visit area hospitals, schools and nursing homes. They will help build homes for Habitat for Humanity, participate in a blood drive….

I guess South Florida has been added to the list of regions that needs “engagement”.

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