Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prevarications (Part 1)

I had several jobs on board USS Reeves. The Main Engines Officer, First Lieutenant, Missile Officer, and Battery Control Officer. As First Lieutenant and as Missile Officer, I saw my fair share of Captain's Mast. If you got a negative score on your ASVABS, you became a seaman and went to First Division as a deck ape. Our motto, "We like them big and stupid." If you were a gunners mate, you had to go through some training and were pretty smart, but I just had a group of guys who liked to bend the rules too much and were stupidly caught way to often. Hence the many trips to Captain's Mast.

Captain's Mast is the Navy's form of Non-Judicial Punishment. A Navy Captain has significant powers on board a ship and when someone does something wrong, a lot of times it is handled via Captain's Mast. Rules of evidence don't apply, it's not really a formal thing. The punishment can range from extra duty to restriction to cut in rank to a reduction in your pay. It can be pretty severe at times depending on the offense.

Coming out of the overhaul, I ran into alot of discipline problems. Alot of the junior Sailors had gotten use to the almost 9-5 aspect of shipboard life during an overhaul and spending their nights out in town. So going back to sea for weeks at a time was a little upsetting to them. It seemed to put a cramp in their social lifes. And yes I know, you're in the Navy, aren't you supposed to go to sea? Well tell that to Seaman T.

Seaman T decided that the whole going out to sea for ship trials wasn't really working for him. So he concocted some story about being sick, missed the ships departure, checked into the hospital, then went AWOL from the hospital, and then was picked up by the shore patrol in Waikiki for being drunk. So when the ship returned, Seaman T was brought on board by the shore patrol and we held Captain's Mast shortly thereafter.

Captain's Mast with the Anti-Christ (see more here) was never fun. He stood on the middle of the ships bridge in front of a podium upon which the Captain would have the disciplinary report. In a single line to his left flanking the podium were the XO, the Chaplain, and the Command Master Chief. In a single line to his right opposite the XO et al were the offender's chain of command. The Department Head, the Division Officer (me), the Division Chief, and the Leading Petty Officer. The accused stood in front of the podium and perpendicular to me. At Captain's Mast, the CO would go into screaming overdrive. It was harsh. I was scared and intimidated and I wasn't even the one in trouble. The Anti-Christ also had this habit of slowly rocking back and forth on the podium, leaning in towards the accused when we wanted to make a point, backing off, and then coming back as he built up to full speed. It was quite impressive. But also scarey since I could see this huge, gigantic eye brow lashes the Anti Christ had that were perpendicular to his head and looked like mini-antennas.

Anyways, soon to be Seaman Apprentice T was feeling the full force of the Anti-Christ and I was listening along to the bombastic speech from the CO when he said, "And I'm sick and tired of your prevarications." He went on, but my mind was frozen. "Prevarications?" What are those? I'm a college graduate (albiet from the Naval Academy, not exactly a liberal arts school) and I don't know what "prevarication" means. And I kept thinking about it. And then I realized that there was little chance that Seaman Apprentice T knew what prevarications were either. I'm sure he felt like Charlie Brown being yelled at by his teacher, "Wahhh, whahh,whaahh, wahh, BAD! Wahh, whaahh, wahh, BAD!"

After Captain's Mast I went back to my stateroom and pulled out my dictionary.

Prevarication: "Half truths and lies."


Post a Comment

<< Home