Baby Officers - Bless 'Em

Discussion in 'The NAAFI & PX' started by Red Sailor, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Red Sailor

    Red Sailor New Member

    Jan 20, 2016
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    Officers – Can’t live with them and can’t live without them. Many of the engineering officer trainees I came across were products of universities or the public school system. We are talking upper class seats of learning such as Harrow and Eton, that only the male offspring of the rich and privileged can attend. Highly educated there is no doubt, but a bit short on fundamental common sense if you catch my drift; a short engineering commission in the Royal Navy then being considered an essential stepping stone for their future career paths. We used to call them “pickle jar lids” because although they could give you the square root of the total surface area of a pickle jar lid to the nearest decimal point, being totally impractical they were incapable of removing the said pickle jar lid when called upon to do so.

    We in engineering all remember those young thrusters who kept asking, “How long till it’s fixed, Chief?”; but my pet hate was the baby engineering officer who was always asking, “Can I borrow a shifting spanner Chief?” My initial reaction was WTF, but over the years I found the perfect response. I would hand him a plastic shifting spanner stolen from a kiddies tool box many moons ago that was coloured bright pink. They soon got the message and went elsewhere looking for someone else to bum tools off. Here are a few shining examples from all branches of the service.

    HMS Zulu was for a while training ship for baby engineering officers and some officer cadets from India and Nigeria. Movies were shown most evenings on the quarterdeck. Overheard in engine room workshop: An Indian cadet asks the Chief Stoker, “What’s the movie tonight Chief?” Chief busy working on the lathe answers, “Call Me Bwana” The cadet responds, “What’s the movie tonight Bwana?”

    Same ship whilst alongside in Devonport for maintenance. Duty Weapons Electrical Officer to the Duty WE Senior Rate, “This shore supply cable seems a bit hot Chief.” Duty WESR, with a world weary sigh answers, “That’s the shore steam line, Sir.”

    On a visit to Santos, Brazil, a brand new Surgeon Lieutenant straight out of medical school enthusiastically makes a general pipe, reference; sexually transmitted diseases. He explains that STD’s are rife in Latin America and that the local Brazilian strains are so virulent that they simply laugh at penicillin and streptomycin as a cure, and he went on to stress the extreme importance of wearing safe protection when having sex. No prizes for guessing the only person aboard to get infected with a dose - absolutely bloody priceless.

    A young midshipman was put in charge of the windlass whilst raising the anchor in Torbay. Everything went well until the starboard anchor was aweigh and the second Lieutenant peering over the bow shouted, “Avast Heaving!” so as to allow the anchor to be hosed off and then slowly housed and secured. The windlass immediately went into top gear and the rapidly ascending anchor consequently ripped open the bow plating before separating itself from its chain and dropping into the harbour. We had to remain in port until bow repairs were completed and the anchor was retrieved by divers. The ashen-faced midshipman who had recently completed his seamanship course had thought the order given had been “Fast Heaving”. Fair comment I suppose if you are not too used to nautical lingo.

    The submarine service was not immune from these straight-out-of-the-box baby officers either. A baby-faced OOD who was a rider, for whatever reason I do not know, spotted a submarine sighting whilst on the bridge during an exercise. Turning to the look-out he asked, “Is that an A boat out there? The look-out scanned the horizon and seeing nothing replied, “If it was an A boat you saw, it must be Andrew as she is the last one left of that class.” The OOD excitedly reports that he has sighted Andrew on the surface to the control room. Periscope is brought to bear and the OOW answers, “That A boat you just reported is a County-class destroyer.” The unfazed OOD answers, “I think you just might be mistaken Sir” and deciding to take another look goes to get back on the step and missing his footing, hits his jaw on the edge of the fin, dropping the binoculars overboard. It turned out he had fractured his jaw and had to be taken off by helicopter to sickbay aboard the carrier flagship. So we lost not only our rider but a perfectly good pair of binoculars that afternoon.
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