Tuesday, February 10, 2009

USS Port Royal

     Just out of curiosity, has anyone bothered to get that boat in Hawai'i unstuck?  

     When I was like fourteen years old, my dad had a sweet speedboat.  Always on the lookout for an opportunity, I forced my mom to drive me once a week to Brookfield Central High School to take a boaters safety course.  It was kind of cool.  They teach you about all sorts of stuff, like what the green and red buoys mean, how currents affect your piloting a boat, and the concept of how boats don't stop or turn the same way a car does.  Somewhere along the way you take a test and at the end of it all you get like the nautical version of a truckers hat.  And, you get a little card that says you passed the course.  It's really cool when you are like fourteen, because without a drivers license to put in your wallet, one needs all the cards, ID's, etc. in their wallet that one can get.
     So anyway, the bottom line is that I learned to drive a boat, and aside from my kayak, I have never beached a boat when I didn't intend to.  So that simple, six week or whatever class worked well for me, and for the probably thousands of other people who have taken it as well.  So the big question of the day is why does that simple little class work so well while FOUR GRUELING YEARS of work and classes at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis couldn't do the trick for the boys on the USS Port Royal.
     In case you have been living under a rock, or maybe you've just been trying to make it all the way through that REALLY extended playlist on your iPod, the USS Port Royal is one of the US Navy's most technologically advanced warships.  It is also the one that happened to run aground in a VERY noticeable and public place just outside of Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i.  It actually was right outside of Honolulu International Airport, so all the folks coming or going form the state got a good look at it.  So did all the nice people on the cruise ships running around the Pacific.  How embarrassing.
     I think maybe what's more embarrassing is that it took them not one, not two, not three, but four attempts to remove the ship from the rock and sand shoal that it was embedded on.  A rock and sand shoal that the Navy knew very well.  I mean, it only sits along one the their most frequently used harbors.  Oh, and it's only right next to an area where they routinely offload men and supplies, etc. into smaller boats for transport to the shore.  No big deal.  But they, in all their infinite wisdom, decided anyway to ram their ONE BILLION DOLLAR cruiser not into it head-on like those r-tards in the Coast Guard would do, they decided to broadside the thing, Titanic-style.  On their fourth attempt to free the stricken vessel, after emptying it of most of its crew, all of its fresh water, gasoline, oil, liquor, cigarettes, condoms, uniform presses, pencils, anchors, chains, gangplanks, the big wheel they use to steer it AND the commanders morbidly obese wife, as well as FIVE HUNDRED TONS of SEA WATER that it was inexplicably carrying.  That's ONE MILLION POUNDS or 454,545 GALLONS of SEA WATER.  This completely defies any logic that you might come up with.  That's like me carrying around some extra asphalt in my DykeSedan as I cruise around the town.  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  And, silly me, that's probably the FIRST think I would have taken off the ship when it ran aground.  Kind of like my dad's boat.  When it would fill with rain and sink to the bottom of the lake where it was parked at my grandparents' house the first thing we would do to float it again was turn on the bilge pump and let it pump the rainwater out.  We would take out the seats and gas tanks and oars.  That would just be stupid.  That would be the Navy way.  So anyway, after unloading all that stuff it STILL took a bunch of harbor tugs, a sea-going tug, a Navy supply ship, The Love Boat, The Rock in a kayak, and nine Huey helicopters all chained up in a row lifting the boat to get it unstuck.  And even then a cadet at the Academy still had to go down there with a shovel and clear the last little bits of sand away.  And all the while a Canadian ship just cruised back and forth, rubbing in everyone's face that it had managed to not hit a very well known navigational hazard.
     Well, the Canadians were probably right to do that.  Because just about ANYONE other than Navy Captain John Carroll could have managed to stay between the green and red buoys.  Red, right, returning.  I still remember it.  I am sure he had it written in a book somewhere.  He was summarily replaced by Joseph Hazelwood although he was dismissed once his past record came to light.  The ship, when it gets out of dry dock, will be commanded by MacGyver.  That's not true, but it should be.  He could have got that thing unstuck with nothing but six scissors, a tongue depressor, and the laws of physics and leverage.  It would have saved millions in taxpayer money.  AND he would have helped some kid in need or with bad self esteem or something like that in the process.  The ship would have been free and the world would have been a much better place.
     In the end, however, all is well.  The ship is free, and after it is done being checked over in dry dock, it will be free to go back out and do the things that the Navy does best: cruising around and finding exotic new places to have shore leave.  And the Coast Guard can go back to rescuing people and snickering and cracking jokes whenever a Navy cruiser goes by.  And no gas or oil got released into the environment, so that is good.  And all the sailors got a little more time on beautiful Oahu.  It's a shame that they had to ditch all that sea water.  Where are they going to be able to find 500 tons of sea water to carry around.  I mean where could they ever go to replace that?  FUCKING SEA WATER!  God!