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Impromptu Sharing

It has been a busy couple of days, so it’s time for another impromptu sharing post. Today’s what the result of the following journal prompt: “Underwater: Write about sea creatures and under water life. What’s under the surface of the ocean? What adventures might be waiting.”

Looking back, I went off the rails, but I still think it’s worth sharing. The story is a side of Navy life you don’t see in the movies.


There are things that live in the dark. They live in the ocean hundreds of feet below the waves where the sun never reaches.

As man sails the seas, the come to rest inside of heat exchangers where the decide to settle and grow. Sometimes they thrive. Sometimes they heat from condensing steam bakes them to the sides.

In either case, I’m the son of a bitch who gets to scrape them the insides of those vessels. Sometimes it is relatively easy. You drain a condenser, then open the access hatch. If you do it not long after the draining they are still damp and easily scraped away. The worst of that is they are still damp, so you wear coveralls and gloves. The stench is the same as day old seaweed on a dirty beach turned up to eleven.

Other times, they’ve dried. The stench is better, sometimes non-existent, in that case, but they are more completely attached. Sometimes the solution is to get them wet again and use a power washer. That is actually the most enjoyable, although very wet. The worst is when you’re cleaning something overhead that way and the dirty water just pours over you.

The time I got the wettest from that was not cleaning the end caps. The time the little buggers get baked on the most is when they die in the tubes of the heat exchanges. There are two ways to clean the tubes. One is to use small discs on a line. You pass the line down the length of the tube and when someone on the other end has a grip, you feed in the discs. He’ll pull them to the other end. You pull them the whole length. You do this for all the several hundred tubes.

The other way to do this is the power washer. Again, you’re feeding a line down the tube, but this time it is the nozzle of the power washer. No one has to catch the far end, but a ton of water will come out both ends.

As I said above, I’ve done that. My last night in the Navy, I actually worked late doing this to a heat exchanger in the overhead of engine room lower level. I remember wearing nothing but swim trunks, tennis shoes, and a belt with my dosimeter on it. You couldn’t be aft of the reactor compartment without dosimetry, after all. I was cold and wet, but it was the best send off I could have had.


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