Hear the Sailors Cry

hark, now hear the sailors cry, 
smell the sea, and feel the sky 
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic. . .
–Van Morrison

Sailors man the rails aboard the guided -missile destroyer USS Barry as the ship departs the Norfolk Naval Station Thursday morning, Feb. 7, 2013 for a 6-month deployment. The USS Barry has deployed to Europe to protect U.S. allies from ballistic missiles.
Sailors man the rails aboard the guided -missile destroyer USS Barry as the ship departs the Norfolk Naval Station Thursday morning, Feb. 7, 2013 for a 6-month deployment. The USS Barry has deployed to Europe to protect U.S. allies from ballistic missiles.

A Measuring Contest Aboard the USS Barry

You ever been in a measuring contest? I have and it most assuredly did not end well for everybody involved.

Almost true story: I am clomping around the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Barry. I see a Petty Officer standing near the 5-inch, 127mm gun. I saunter over chalantly, despite trying for the opposite.

Petty Officer, you mind if I check the calibration of this gun? I ask.

No problem, sir, the Petty Officer replies, making himself scarce. No doubt he is thinking, Calibration? Have we been missing that?

With just me and the gun, I sneaky-sneaky out my Stanley tape measure, the one I store in the camo pocket of my aquaflage. It takes some mighty arithmetic, but I finally come up with the answer.

Lo and behold, the gun is 310 inches long! And all along we’ve been telling the poor thing that it is a mere five-incher.

Luckily for me, a curious Ensign pokes by. He wields a clipboard, which lends him credibility, just like his instructor in Ensign school promised him. (Walk around with a clipboard everywhere, the teacher had said. Even when taking a shower. No one will bother you.)

The Ensign hales with me with the greeting of the day. Good morning, Sir. I always like the sound of a the 5-inch shell, that calibre is just perfect. 

Good morning. I nod almost knowingly.

At seventy pounds, it can really say hello.

I frown and the Ensign makes himself scarce as the best of his class do. I let my tape measure wind up.

Our Navy Moral (Welfare and Recreation) fact of the day: a five-inch shell is not shot from a five-inch barrel. Carry on. . .

(No Ensigns were harmed in the writing of this story and no blogger writing for this blog has ever been afforded the honor to walk the USS Barry gangway.)