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That Old Competitive Thing
by Sid Harrison ETCM(SS)USN(Ret) - circa 1999

The mind (memory) works in mysterious ways.

After reading various posts on the board over the past eighteen or so months about diesel boats vs nukes and fast attacks vs boomers I had one of those sudden mind flashes where a whole chunk of something downloads. It's like it all just happened yesterday.

Before submarines I was a skimmer - and one night in the last liberty launch one of the goofiest melees I ever participated in took place. Now if you think submariners can get cross-threaded you ain't seen nothin' until you're in the middle of a drunken brawl among surface sailors all intent on beating one another's heads to a pulp over "who is the most important to the ship".

I recall the coxswain had the pedal to the metal trying to get the lot of us back to our ship before we swamped his boat. But there we all were - wallowing and hollering down in that motor whaleboat. Just a bunch of drunks thrashing around in the dark, the salt spray and the puke and arguing over the importance of deck apes vs snipes vs the scope dopes vs the cooks vs the Marines (we had those too) vs the fill-in-the blank.

The interesting fact is that the ship has long since been placed out of commission (actually is now a memorial), many of the ratings that were so adamantly argued for or against (all while trying to punch one another's lights out) have been merged or deleted and the participants from that night nearly 40 years ago are now old men.

A ship manned entirely by one rating? Cooks lighting off the boilers? Yeomen making preparations for refueling at sea? A delightful holiday meal courtesy of the signalmen and scope dopes?

.... I don't think so Pedro.

Relevance? Object lesson? Read into it what you will. Maybe my subconscious is sending a message.

It's all submarines to me.

Beam me up Scotty.........