The (mis)Adventures of Fireman Timmy

Before we begin our journey, no Timmy’s were harmed in the writing of this blog. Fireman (FN) Timmy is a generic name us ‘old school’ sailors use in our sea stories, it is simply a random name that works well in our stories and is not intended to offend any of the Timmy’s out there in the real world.

Whew, I feel better with that off my knee-bow, just who is this Fireman Timmy anyway? Fireman (FN) Timmy is the new, freshly frocked Petty Officer Third who ‘aced A & C Schools’. He is eager to hit the deck plates running and boasts that he’ll be qualified and ‘in the booth’ in 3 months. FYI : ‘the booth’ refers to the engine/boiler control console operator and watch supervisor station, this station is enclosed and air conditioned.

Timmy is overly eager to learn all the tricks of trade from the old salts and constantly inserts himself in every maintenance project that he stumbles across. Normally, this is taken as a good training opportunity. However, there are times when Timmy is just in the way and needs to be ‘creatively distracted’. It should be noted that these little distractions can get quite elaborate and Rube Goldberg-esque. The process usually follows a simple template, perform your evil fun and then send Timmy off to someone else to torture. Just after Timmy leaves, you call the person you sent Timmy to see and let them know Timmy is on the way, it is up to them to clue Timmy in or send him off to another evil-doer.

These are some of my favorite and more creative FN Timmy ‘adventures’ that I may or may not have been party to …

An oldie but goodie that works on Timmy’s from all departments is the HT or BT Punch. Our Timmy inserts himself into a task where he is constantly asking for something to do so he can help. So, in order to get Timmy outta your hair, you send him to the Repair Shop for an HT Punch, or one of the Fire Rooms for a BT Punch. Timmy get to the designated shop where he is usually sent on a wild goose chase to find the crankiest HT/BT in the shop. When Timmy tells the HT/BT that he needs an HT/BT Punch, the HT/BT pulls back and punches Timmy’s shoulder with the force of a wrecking ball.

One of my favorite Timmy tasks was the HP Air Sample. I was overhauling a high pressure air compressor that was located in a tight corner of the Engine Room Upper Level. Our Timmy kept trying to ‘insert’ himself between me and the compress or heads so he could see what I was trying to do. To tactfully remove him from my situation, I asked him to run an air sample from the HP Air flask to ensure that the flask was not contaminated when the compressor failed. So, with protective goggles, face shield, double hearing protection, leather apron, and leather gloves Timmy is off to fill a 32 oz glass bottle with HP Air. Sounds simple enough, eh? Well, here is where Timmy’s task starts to go askew, ya see we didn’t have an HP Air tank in the Engine Room and even if’n we did ya cain’t grab an air sample in a freakin’ jar. However, that did not deter us from directing Timmy to this crusty old tank in the corner of the space. This tank was not physically connected to any active system but we had it rigged to store potable water pressurized with low pressure air. Before he could draw the sample, Timmy needed a pressure reducing adapter to attach to the drain/sample valve. The problem with this adapter was that it did not exist outside of a rough sketch that we gave him. So, it’s off to the R-Division shop to start fabricating this elaborate pressure reducing gizmo out of a random box of parts that we grabbed out of the scrap parts bin. After around two hours, Timmy returns with this impressive looking sample rig which he proceeds to attach to the tanks drain/sample connection . He then puts on all of his overkill safety gear and proceeds to draw his sample. However, all he gets is water after several minutes with the sample valve open. (remember – we use this tank for our personal potable water usage). We tell him to keep draining the water until he gets his air sample. Now, we have no clue as to how much water is in the tank since it has no gage glass or other means to determine liquid level so we have no idea how long he is going to stay the course or if he will suddenly get a clue when someone asks him what he is doing. Well, Timmy finally gets his sample and brings is to the Top Watch for assessment. The Top Watch does a quick visual and sends Timmy with the sample to the Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) in Main Control. The EOOW takes the sample does a couple of twists and turns with close-up inspections and then puts the bottle in a box and repeats the process under a red light. After all of this, the EOOW directs Timmy to take the sample to the Combat Systems Officer of the Watch (CSOW) for further evaluation since the primary user of high pressure air is the various weapons systems. The CSOW conducts similar visual checks like the EOOW did and adds another special twist, he rigs a copper wire around the sample bottle and hooks up a shorting probe between the copper coil on the bottle and a random spot on the hull. After all of this the CSOW sends Timmy to the Bridge to have the Officer of the Deck (OOD) evaluate the sample due to the ‘water occlusion and failed concluvity test’. The OOD defers the sample to the Captain, who is ‘conveniently’ on the Bridge. The Captain is ‘concerned’ with the amount of water droplets on the glass so he tells Timmy that he needs to spin the sample. By ‘spin the sample’ the Cap’n instructs the Bosun’s Mate of the Watch to tie a cradle around the bottle with a six foot lanyard. When this is completed, Timmy is told to proceed to the Forecastle and spin the bottle in a vertical clockwise direction for fifteen minutes. So, Timmy begins to spin the bottle only to have it fly out of the cradle and either fly off into the sea or crash into the deck. When the ruse makes it this far, we don’t bother clueing in Timmy to the fact that he has been running around for naught. Eventually he’ll figure it out.

This little adventure would never work in today’s Navy but it was fun and creative at the time. We were moored alongside a Tender for a short mid-deployment repair availability. Our high priority maintenance task was repairs to Nr 2 Evaporator. The Evaporator distills seawater into distilled water for the boilers and potable water for consumption by the crew. We had two Evaporators, each with a maximum capacity of 12,000 gallons of water per day. Nr 2 Evaporator was performing at less than 8000 gallons per day and Nr 1 Evaporator struggled to produce 10,000 gallons per day. We had been averaging 16,000 – 18,000 gallons per day total distilled water production for the past month or so and had been on ‘water hours’ for the majority of the deployment thus far. So, to employ Timmy out of our hair while we repaired the Evaporator, we sent him to the Tender to get a highly important part that we will need to complete the job – 25 feet of fallopian tubing. This little adventure started with us sending Timmy to the Admin Office for a ‘Priority ID Ten T’ form (ID10T) for the urgent supply request. Admin digs up our special Ten T form that is used for situations like this and modifies it for an urgent supply request. The form requires signatures from the requestor’s Leading Petty Officer, Chief Petty Officer, Division Officer, Department Officer, Supply Department Leading Petty Officer, Supply Officer, Command Master Chief, Executive Officer, & Commanding Officer. After personally tracking down all of the above and explaining, to the best of his ability, what he is trying to do, Timmy proceeds to the Tender’s Supply Department where he is issued a supply release chit and sends him to the Chief’s Mess to ask for HMCS to ask for the fallopian tubing. HMCS is the Senior Chief Medical Corpsman, and a female, who is a close friend of our Command Master Chief and has been briefed on the game. So, our Timmy goes into the Chief’s Mess and proceeds to ask the female Senior Chief Doc for 25 feet of fallopian tubing. The best part is the unknown fact that Timmy would find Doc in the Chief’s Mess. Ya see, Doc decided not to clue in the rest of the Chiefs. Apparently, their initial reaction was total shock. They quickly caught on and messed with Timmy before educating him. For some reason, Timmy began to question our motives when he was given a runner task. Go figger…

Sometimes, the joke is so odd and somewhat believable that we were able to find a way to incorporate it into various shipboard evolutions. My favorite, by far, was the incorporation of a ‘handrail cooling system’ into oral boards for the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) qualification process. The handrail cooling system started as a joke to explain the presence of a random valve that was welded into a random handrail in the Main Machinery Room. The valve had been welded in during a shipyard availability when the young sailors in charge of reinstalling the handrails that they had removed came up short by one length of rail. Unfortunately for them, the only handrail pieces that they could find were at least 4-6″ too short. In a caffeine induced bout of brainstorming, they determined that since they had no pipe couplers all they really needed was something to slip in between the two sections of railing to act as a coupler. As fate would have it, in their kit bag was a 1″ gate valve. The railing pipe happened to be 1″ so, the valve was welded in as a coupler. Over time, this valve became an inside joke for those inside the space where they would see how long the new guy would ‘adjust the handrail cooling water flowrate’ before catching on. Anyhow, when I arrived onboard, I took the game a little further by designing an elaborate handrail cooling system diagram which we made all top-siders (those who did not ‘belong’ in the engineering spaces) draw while trying to obtain their qualification signature tasks for the Main Spaces.

For the record, I was subjected to the Timmy treatment once, while attached to the Bird Farm. I reported onboard a newly frocked Machinist Mate Second Class from a Tin Can. To the Boiler Tech First Class who ran the boiler side of the space this made me an uneducated troll who only knew how to play with bathtub toys. Shortly after I started to turn wrenches under instruction, the cranky old BT1 decides that it was time to have fun with the ‘new guy’ by sending me off to the Bosun’s Locker for 5lbs of ‘relative bearing grease’. He tells me this at around 0800. Now this weren’t my first rodeo so I sheepishly accepted the task and proceeded to the ship’s store for a handful of gedunk and next went to the forward crew’s lounge for a marathon movie session. When the forward chow line opened, I was first in line for the freshest sliders and fries. After chow, it was back to the lounge for nappy time. At around 1600, I went to the Bosun’s Locker and hooked up with an old friend from a sister Tin Can and we proceeded to concoct the most vile concoction of greases which we labeled as Relative Bearing Grease. I eventually meandered back to the Main Space with my tasking complete only to find a ‘mildly irritated’ BT1 who was a tad bit upset that I was gone for around ten hours. Unfortunately for him, when I explained how hard it was to locate relative bearing grease and how ungrateful BT1 was when I presented him with said relative bearing grease, my Master Chief just laughed his ass off and told BT1 to suck it up and admit his defeat.

There are many more stories of our Timmy but time is short and this story is already long…

Until next time, dear reader, Fair Winds and Following Seas

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