The Kawishiwi had its share of characters. I recall one who was responsible for a pump room on the starboard side, and aft? He took great pride in the appearance of that space and it was always a show place.
During an UNREP, his pump room was flooded with black oil. The room was several grated decks high and nothing escaped being coated with dark thick crude. This shipmate found that the foaming agent we used to fight fires with was the best thing aboard to cut the crude and help clean up this huge mess. Considering that it is made of animal blood and soybean oil; I’m sure its not exactly pleasant stuff to stick your hands in.
I recall visiting his pump room during the tail end of his clean up, he was still mumbling and swearing about the SOBs on the other ship. I let him talk and he went on to explain that the flooding of his pump room was caused when simple procedures were not followed by the crew on the ship receiving fuel. “They think they’re so cool, new boat with a 1200 pound steam system; they approach us for UNREP at flank speed; manning the rails in whites, they don’t even know how to take on fuel!”
As the days went by, this sailor did not soften or forgive, this was a boat full of showoffs and they needed to be taught a lesson! Next time they come along side, they’ll be the ones cleaning up black oil, “that’s for dammed sure!” I remember asking him why he was being so open about this; why not pipe down a little? If you’re going to do something, don’t tell people, you might get in trouble. “I’ve got it all thought out”, he replied; “what are they going to do?” …“I’ll say it happened this way, and who’s to say???”
I remember thinking that my shipmate would cool off before that two digit numbered Destroyer… something with missiles aboard came along side again.
It was another warm day in the Gulf, 130 to 140 degrees in some workstations; you survived by sticking your head under a blower and drinking a few gallons of water during your four-hour watch. Even topside was toasty and only the ships forward movement made it bearable. This was the day when that certain ship was scheduled to UNREP. I didn’t have a watch at the time, and I was free to go topside and watch her approach.
Just like my Shipmate had described, they zoomed towards us at about thirty knots from astern and cut the power shortly before their bow was even with our fantail. Their Captain had has his officers and crew manning the rails in whites! She did look pretty, there’s no doubt about that. I stayed topside long enough to see the first lines shot across to the other boat. The sound powered line was set and communications established; next the cables were placed between the ships and rigged to carry the massive six-inch hoses that carry black oil at high pressure.
That’s all the time I had, it was time to get back down below and get my assigned work done. I remember how normal the day seemed to be; everyone was going about his business, no word of anything out of the ordinary. That’s why it was such a shock when I went topside and saw the Destroyer covered with black oil. The crude had somehow reached the highest point of the bridge; officers and crew alike were covered in the tar like stuff. There was even black oil on the side of the stack, running and sticking to the decks and superstructure everywhere.
Apparently there was a problem in the pump room, not only did something break or fail, but the problem made it very difficult to shut down the pump in a timely way causing this huge hose to flop around spraying oil at 120 pounds of pressure all over our customer’s and their shiny new boat.
That’s the way I remember the story, so long ago, it could have been a dream………..but I will never forget the faces of the destroyer crew, and how normal the rest of the day was aboard the KIWI, just another day in the Gulf, floating around on top of thousands of gallons of high test aviation gasoline, JP5, and lots of that thick black crude.
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