Deck Logs

By Dave Hood, GMT2, USS McKean (DD 784)

     When I reported aboard the USS McKEAN DD-784 I was a 3rd Class Gunners’ Mate. I was assigned to a Work Center (WW01 – ASROC,) a Division (WA – Weapons ASW), a Department (Weapons), a life boat, a GQ station, (Sight Setter, Mount 52) a DC station (one of the repair lockers), a Condition 1AS station (Sub hunting-ASROC LCCS), an Underway Watch station (After steering room) and finally, an inport duty section.

    In port, we were on six-section duty. One day out of every six, the duty section had to stay aboard for 24 hours and safeguard the ship. (On weekends the duty section stayed aboard from Friday to Monday morning.) Besides my regular ASROC duties I was expected to be part of the Duty Section’s DC team (Damage Control - Fire, Flooding, Rescue), Shipboard Security Team and work parties. While I was still an E-3 I was expected to stand at least one 4-hour Quarterdeck watch as “The Petty Officer Of the Watch” – POOW. When I made E-5 I stood “Officer Of The Deck” –OOD- watches. (I was also Duty Gunners’ Mate and Duty Master At Arms.)

    It is the responsibility of the Inport (OOD) to update the Quarterdeck Log. Entries in the log might say,
“2345. Assumed the duty as OOD. EM3 Metcalf is POOW and BTFN Taylor is Sounding and Security.”
At midnight you had to start a new page in the log and start it off with

    24 April 1979. Moored starboard side Pier 90 Seattle. Ship is in a Cold Iron status and receiving all Hotel services from the pier. (Cold Iron meant that our engineering plant was shut off. Hotel services were fresh water, electricity and steam. If we were tied up to a pier that couldn’t provide those essential services, say a city pier in a liberty port, our engineers would have to keep some of the boilers running.) CO and XO are ashore. CDO is LT(jg)Bond. SOPA is ComCruDesGru5 and SubSOPA is DesRon37. (You had to keep tabs on the old man and the Exec. Whenever they crossed the brow you had to write it in the log. The Command Duty Officer – CDO- is the officer in charge of the duty section and also in charge of the ship in the CO’s absence. SOPA stands for Senior Officer Present Afloat and that would refer to just who was in charge of our ship. In did not mean the nearest high-ranking Admiral- it meant who was directly in the McKEAN’s chain of command. McKEAN was part of Destroyer Squadron 37, which was attached to Cruiser/Destroyer Group 5.)
0020. Sounding and Security reports All Secure. (The Sounding and Security watch had to rove the entire ship every hour and take soundings in various fuel and water tanks as well as voids to ensure that the ship wasn’t taking on unexpected water.)

    0130. ET1 James Calloway, 430-23-8945, reported aboard for duty. (Whenever a new crewman checked aboard his name would be entered in the log. The POOW would find and wake up the duty representative, in this case someone from Operations, to make sure that the new guy gets a rack and a locker and squared away for the night. Actual check-in would take place during the following workday.)

    It pretty much went like that all night long. Just write down the Sounding and Security reports (and it was always “Sounding and Security reports all-secure.”) and anything out of the ordinary.

    The log was presented on a daily basis to the CO (or to the CDO) for his review and signature.

    One of our 1st class Quartermasters told me that what gets written down into the QD log really isn’t important. One of his duties was to transcribe what was in the QD log (what he called “Rough entries) and put them into a “Smooth log” that was the actual record seen by the old man.

    One particularly dull Mid-watch (2400~0400) I recalled what he had told me.
I decided to put it to the test.

    30 April 1979. Moored starboard side Pier 90 Seattle. Ship is in Cold Iron status, receiving all Hotel services from the Pier. CO and XO are ashore. SOPA is ComCruDesGru5, SuSOPA is DesRon 37. CDO is LT(jg) Bond.

0025 Sounding and Security reports all-secure.
0045 I don’t like my Petty Officer of the Watch.
0057 I hate my POOW.
0114 I loathe my POOW
0128 Sounding and Security reports all-secure.
0139 I have decided to kill my POOW.
0152 I have a plan on how to kill my POOW
0205 I am standing behind my POOW
0206 I have my hands around my POOW’s throat
0207 I am applying intense pressure to my POOW’s ceratoid artery
0208 I let go of my POOW and he fell to the deck of the QD shack
0209 Sounding and Security reports all-secure
0210 Sounding and Security finally went away. My POOW is gasping for breath
0211 I am again choking my POOW
0214 My POOW has stopped breathing.
0220. After resting, I tossed my POOW over the side.
0222 I am alone on the QD. All is well
0310 Sounding and Security reports all-secure. I tell him the POOW left to use the head and hasn’t returned. Sounding and Security goes to notify the CDO.
0330 A new POOW, SN Parker, is on duty.
0342 I don’t like this new POOW

None of the crew could figure out why the QMs kept looking at me so funny.

Well now, wait just a minute, Mr. Hood, Commander Richard King USN (ret), formerly of the U.S.S. CHEVALIER (DD-805) would like to offer some comments on your little story........

    Six Section Duty?  SHIT, I thought we did good to have five section. 

    In the sixties Four Section was the norm in port CONUS, five section was rare and limited to cocky CO's such as G.G. Ely Kirk on the USS Chevalier DD-805.  I think there were minor inaccuracies in your story, nothing major, and things you would not as a square bore PO be expected to know.  At first I was going to suggest changes only to you.  Then I thought there may have been changes in the decade between my service and yours, so I decided to shotgun.  This is not being picky, lets just get it right. 

    (1) "BTFN Taylor is Sounding and Security".  PROBABLY WRONG.  It is not likely that a BTFN would ever stand that watch at least on a Gearing DD.  Most Sounding and Security watch standers were in "R" Division (engineering auxiliaries) or were ET's (believe it or not).  A BTFN would be standing "Cold Iron Watch" (going back and forth between both fire rooms) checking on pumps, etc. 

    (2)  "Hotel Services were fresh water, electricity and steam".  That is true, but the steam should be identified as 100 psi steam and often "fire and flushing" water (salt water) was sometimes provided. 

    (3) SOPA was actually the senior line officer in a given geographical area, not necessarily in the chain of command.  See "Typhoon", SOPA for Chevy was then the tender Captain in Kaosiung. 

    (4) You wrote "Sounding and Security Watch would sound tanks (water or fuel)".  Not so!  He would sound voids and visually inspect other spaces on his route (he had an assigned route) but tanks were not on his route.  Tanks were the responsibility of the Oil King, the Water King, and or their assistants. 

    (5) Rough Logs:  They were collected by the quartermasters but review was by the "Senior Watch Officer", usually on a Gearing the OPS officer and usually doing double duty as Navigator.  Smooth logs were (in the sixties) were prepared in ink after the fact by the CDO's in port and the OOD's underway using the rough logs as a guide.

    I was "put in hack" (confined to the ship) on many Saturdays until all my "smooth logs were "perfect".  "Put in Hack" was the primary way junior officers were punished for not being perfect.  There were several types, confined to the ship, confined to your quarters or some mix.  Never in Naval Regulations nor in the Manual for Court Martial nor in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) have I come across the procedure of being "PUT IN HACK".  Maybe there is a story there, an officer version of "Rocks and Shoals"?

    Times change and things change, but in the mid to late sixties, there was an in-port cold iron watch for M and B Division people, at least the lower grades. Remember, we had TWO fire rooms and TWO engine rooms, we would assign one junior BT to both fire rooms and one junior MM to both engine rooms on a four hour watch schedule. They were also assigned some work to do while on watch, but they also were directed to check the main engineering space where they were not assigned work every hour on the hour. Even at cold iron, we had working switch boards and fresh water pumps and fire and flushing pumps running. My memory is a bit feeble (Alzheimer's) but I think enlisted main propulsion snipes didn't have to fool with quarterdeck watches until the E-5 level, perhaps E-6. And that is why the sounding and security watch could skip the main engineering spaces and concentrate on small obscure spaces.

    The "cold iron watches" covered the big four main snipe spaces, "Sounding and Security" covered everything else. Generally, on the in-port quarterdeck, "MOTW" (Messenger of the Watch) was an E-2 or E-3. "POOW" (Petty Officer of the Watch) was an E-4 or E-5 (and he packed the pistol). "OOD" was either an E-6, E-7 or O-1 (and he held a so called "telescope" with no lenses in it, just a heavy stupid symbol of "authority". Who thought some of this shit up? Captains had discretion on who filled the in-port OOD watches. Between WWII and post Vietnam, many captains lowered the rank bar so to speak. In the fifties, all in port destroyer OOD's were officers. Later chiefs were put there. By Vietnam, many destroyer ships assigned E-6's as OOD in port.

    When I returned to USNR drilling, I stood the usual engineering watches in port, that is until USS VAMMEN left for the inactive ship facility and USS MADDOX became a reserve ship. I was by then a chief and I was surprised to find my name on the watch list for OOD. "ENGINEERS DON'T STAND DECK WATCHES!"---"They do now" I was told. So I started standing OOD watches, although I would rather have been Sounding & Security. My big problem was that I had never stood a deck watch before as POOW or MOTW. I had no training of any kind, nada, zilch. So I muddled my way through for another few years with little problems but I never enjoyed it.


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