Wednesday, November 13, 2013

needle guns and deep thoughts at 2am

So tonight we're moored in be-ootiful Bayonne, NJ, or as I call it, "The Paris of New Jersey."   Carrying about a half-load of 380 centistoke (a unit of measurement) Intermediate fuel oil , the standard in ship fuel. Smells like death. I've got a 6 hour break before we gas up a cruise ship, and, since this is about 2x the normal load of fuel for a cruise ship, we're sitting comfortably deep in the water.
  With some extra free time, this has given me the opportunity to handle some paperwork and cook up some mean ass mid-rats. Tonight I cooked up a batch of boneless pork chops and then deglazed the pan and braised a big batch of red cabbage.  The side effect of this epicurean feast won't be so nice, and I'm sure that by the time we finish discharging this oil tomorrow the galley and office on board is going to be a hazmat site in clear violation of the Clean Air Act.

 Oh, and if you've ever worked on a ship, you'll get a giggle out of this:

 That little tool is called a needle gun, and it vibrates rust off of steel. Ships always have a lot of both, so it's a pretty pervasive chore. The amazing thing about it is that it is LOUD. Aside from the direct noise, which is deafening (seriously- long term, it's best to wear earplugs INSIDE your earmuffs), the resonance from the vibration means that it's no problem for someone sleeping, say, 300 feet away to feel and hear the damn things perfectly well while they're in bed or taking a dump or whatever. Sound-and-vibration dampening materials help this significantly, but are expensive, so they're pretty rare on board.
 For this reason, needle gunning is often restricted on board to certain hours, and as they do throw sparks at times, can't be carried out during cargo ops or near certain places where flammable things are stored, like in our cargo tanks. It IS possible to be so fatigued that you can sleep with them running, however. I slept off one of the worst hangovers of my life in a dark 4-foot tall 3x6 compartment under the ship's boiler room with a needle gun running (I taped the trigger to the handle) 3 feet from my head. While wearing a respirator, goggles and a face shield in 15' seas.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Does that bring back memories. I was in submarines and man the duty days inside the hull were plain hell when that was going on right on the other side of the hull, day after day after day. The only nit I'd pick is that I don't think you adequately described just how loud those things are.