Chief Daniels Holding Training in San Juan

By Craig Johnson

chief's anchor 2014-02-22_1549This is the second sea story in the series about the adventures of the Diamond during Operation Springboard, and annual training exercise held in the Caribbean. The first was the First Day Underway.

It was 1969, and Chief Daniels had been in the Navy for thirty years and was being forced to retire do to the limit on length of service.  He loved the Navy and it’s lifestyle.  He had joined in 1939 just prior to WWII and had served continuously since then.

One of the things that Chief Daniels felt was his responsibility as Chief Petty Officer was instructing younger sailors about his Navy.

The most import thing he ever taught us was to always learn the rules.  You don’t know how to get around the system if you do not know the system.  To enforce this he used to go over regulations with us once a week.  This is not as dry as it sounds.  One of us would read the regulation to the group, word for word.  This was followed with discussion on how this applied to us and what opportunities it offered us.

Now this was not Navy Regulations that he was teaching us.  The Chief liked to tell us that every command publishes its own interpretation of regulations, and how they are to be carried out. These local regulations offered us windows of opportunity.

The Chief used to hold training every Friday morning on the Diamond. This was our first class upon arriving in San Juan:

“Since most of you are new to the fleet, and are not familiar with the Navy’s use of priority and how it affects all naval vessels, the quick way to look at this is in a way you young sailors can understand. You have all heard and used the phrase ‘sh*t flows downhill?’ Well, priorities are proportionally opposite based on the rank of the commanding officer and the branch of naval service.”

The Chief continued:

“So what do you think our priority is considering that we are a surface vessel assigned to support Submariners and Airedales with a CPO (Chief Petty Officer) as Skipper?” He asked rhetorically.

The Chief answered his own question:

“Bluntly, we do not have any. So this training is how we are going to come to enjoy this cruise.”

He then proceeded with the following, regarding uniforms:

“The first thing I want you to know is that we will not wear uniforms onboard unless I direct you to. The uniform of the day is swimming suits. You all need to know why, so this will work for us. -No one knows that we don’t have any officers assigned, avoiding uniforms that signify rank will keep it that way. We are the first of our class. We have left our homeport and these local commands will not know, or even care.”

He continued to explain how get around revealing rank in signatures:

“Whenever you sign for anything, you will sign as “Duty Officer.” Do not put your rank or rate on anything paper documents, including:

  • Correspondence

– Supply chits

– Most importantly —Shore Patrol documents”

The Chief warned us:

“We are not going to lie! What we are doing is using our military duty titles. This helps us survive in this environment. By signing as duty officer, most people will assume that you are an officer. This will give us a higher priority on a lot of occasions. Never tell them that you are. Always be honest if asked. When you sign Shore Patrol reports as a duty officer, they will leave the command to handle the incident and report chits will not go to higher authority.”

The chief then shifted subjects:

“Let’s talk about supply chits and comshaw. Supply-types use quantity descriptions like box, crate and others. When possible always go for the largest container when they sign the documents and they tell you to go get it. Don’t ever go to supply unless they are extremely busy and don’t have time to stand over you. Comshaw is how we trade one item for another outside of the supply system, so the more items that we can acquire for trade, the more things we can get to improve our lifestyle.”

For the readers, this is an important chapter because it explains how some things developed in later “Sea Stories.”

Like, Rum, Coke and Roosevelt Roads:

Rum Coke and Roosevelt roads finished 2014-03-01_2241

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