h1

“This is the US Navy control point access watch. Inside the two-bravo reactor compartment, you are ordered to come to the control point NOW!”

May 16, 2011
One night while I was in the Navy, onboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise, I was on watch when something really freaky happened. I swear as god is my witness it is true…not my perception of truth, I mean ‘holy crap that really happened’ true.

We were in overhaul, which means that the entire ship goes dead and is supported by dock-power as far as lights and all that goes. Normally with all the machinery running there’s always a background hum, but the ship had been dead for a year at this point.

The 2-Bravo Reactor Plant has a bunch of work going on that’ll eventually take another year to finish, and I am guarding the access door (the only door in or out, it’s about 2 feet think solid steel and lead) to the reactor compartment itself. There’s no work going on right at this point as it is the weekend…there are a bunch of temporary lights and power cords run through the doorway so the shipyard guys can just come in and start working Monday morning instead of having to lay all their crap out anew.

Unfortunately, Naval regualtions stipulate that if that door is cracked open for any reason, a guard MUST be stationed to keep track of who enters or leaves, how long they are in there, what they bring in and what they leave with, are they clean, etc…it’s a big radiological safety thing.

So here I am working the 8pm to midnite watch, and I am the only living soul in the entire damn plant. Everyone else is gone. I brought a book with me to read (though that was kinda illegal) and two Dr Pepper’s, one of which I kept in a bucket of (hopefully) fresh water that was damn near frozen (January in Virginia) we kept in the bilge.

So I start reading. I open my first Dr Pepper and kick back as no one is going to be here till midnite. Hell, I could set the place on fire and run around naked and no one would ever even hear me…it’s that barren of people, nothing but mazes of machinery and pipes. It’s so quiet that I can hear the individual bubbles of carbonation in my drink as they pop inside the frickin tin can. It’s so quiet I can hear myself breathe and the pages of my book rub against each other as I hold the book.

So it was around 10pm or so that I first heard it.

Footsteps. Unmistakeable footsteps…coming from inside the Reactor Compartment.

Of course, this is impossible. There is one way in and out and no one has been in there for a day. It’s literally a matter of national security to even be able to get in there and the way is guarded by me and the watchstanders before me. No one is logged into my book, no one is supposed to be in there period. Hell, if someone WAS in there and not logged in that’d be grounds for whoever let them in to go to Captains Mast (a Navy Court Martial) and spend serious time in the brig on bread and water…that’d be no laughing matter. If we were at sea, I’d be justified in calling in the Marine squad they always have on standby and they’d be justified in scattering the offender all over the wall with 12-gauge goodness if he/she said anything but ‘yes sir, put my handcuffs on’. Nothing more sensitive that access to the RC.

So here I sit in disbelief. No mistaking the shuffle of steel-toed boots on steel flooring on the catwalks in there.

So I lean towards the door and yell “This is the control point access watch, who goes there!?” through the doorway.

Nothing. Whoever it is just keeps shuffling around every minute or so on the catwalks, sounds like he’s got a purpose to his walk, like he is doing something or looking at something. And this guy isn’t supposed to be in there.

So I get pissed. I lean over the rail and scream directly into the doorway “This is the US Navy control point access watch. Inside the two-bravo reactor compartment, you are ordered to come to the control point NOW!!”

Silence, and then some more walking. Like he didn’t even hear me.

So right now, I am freaking out that someone, somehow got in there, and I am pissed. This is federal property and my responsibility, and some asshole shipyard worker (a Navy guy would never EVER be in there without permission) is ignoring me. We keep a locker of heavy tools nearby, so I go and get an aluminum pipewrench about 3 feet long the 2-plant mechanics call ‘The Persuader’ for it’s handiness in getting things unstuck.

I want to call someone, but there is no electricity for phones and leaving to get someone is expressly forbidden as someone has to watch that door period end-of-discussion…but my relief would probably come and check to see if I had to take a piss or anything, so I waited, intermittently shouting how the guy inside was going on a one way trip to federal prison unless he came out.

The walking lasted off and on for about 30 minutes. Then it abruptly stopped. Because I was wondering WTF was going on, I decided to shut the door as much as possible and chain the handle to the wall, so anyone trying to get out couldn’t without an acetyline torch.

Sure enough, the watch supervisor came down to shoot the shiat and make sure I was alive and well. So I go ballistic and tell him everything that was going on. He thinks I’m screwing around and says “Yeah, it’s the boiler guy, right? Suuuuuuuure” and I, half panicked, am yelling “No way Senior Chief, there’s someone farking in there!”. He gets the religion and calls on his walkie-talkie for people to get down there pronto. IN the meantime, we hear the walking a few more times, and his eyes get as big as pieplates and he says “You aren’t farking kidding me…HEY, WHO THE FARK IS IN THERE?? COME DOWN HERE NOW!!!” So it wasn’t just me.

So in half an hour or so, after hearing the footsteps a few more times, the cavalry comes with Shore Patrol in tow, and I check them in to enter the Reactor Compartment, armed mind you, to see WTF is up.

Nothing. They found nothing and no one. Dead as a doornail, no wind, nothing moving, no electricity but lights so there was no fans blowing and not a damn thing was moved or seen in any way. Everyone chalked it up to one big ‘WTF?’ and left, but Senior Chief Willingham heard it too. As everyone was leaving and chalking it up to who knows what, Senior again said something that slipped past me the first time…he said “Damn, I was just joking about that kid who got caught up in the boiler, but now I ain’t so sure”.

I swear my heart stopped beating for a second.

I had forgotten, amongst all the tales on a 30 year old ship and all the sea-stories about crazy stuff you hear, about that one, and it was a true story sadly enough.

20 years back in the early 70’s, when it was commonplace for sailors to get into fisticuffs with their superiors, we weren’t treated so nice. They had to go in and clean some scaling and plating out of the bottom of a 2 story water boiler (like getting the lime out your tub only 10000 times worse) and because of it being in the RC, you had to wear a wetsuit and wear an air hose/mask to breathe to make sure you got clean air and didn’t get contaminated. One younger sailor protested and didn’t want to get in the confines of 150 degree metal and pipes because he was clausterphobic, but they bullied him into getting in anyway.

He threw up in his mask after getting in because he freaked out…he got caught up in the pipes and they couldn’t pull him out…he drowned on his own vomit right there on the spot.

SO after that the running joke/spook was that if you listened real close on a shutdown, you could hear him walking around in there trying to find his way out. Of course navy guys tell lots of tall tales so I took it in stride just like you would if you were at a campfire with your dad hearing the story about the one eyed lumberjack or whatever. You just laugh and it rolls away as the next guy tells you the story about the 3 Phillipino hookers, etc, and you go on.

But it all came back to me right there. Holy shiat. It was the 2b reactor where the guy died too. And it was a matter of recorded nuclear safety that he died in there…it was in our RSB case study books on how to handle emergency situations.

The both of us were kinda freaked, but me moreso than him because I sat there for 30 minutes listening to the unmistakable sound of Navy steel-toed ‘Boondockers’ kicking around the steel catwalks not knowing WTF was going on. We both stood by our claims of what we heard too under official inquiry.

Man, I’ll never forget that shiat. My own M. Night Shamylan moment when I discovered that the guy I was yelling at and was going to pound with a pipewrench if he tried to leave through my doorway and started out as an asshole ignoring my orders and then advanced to being a possible saboteur to his own serious detriment was a dead sailor from 20 years back trying to find his way out of the reactor compartment.

– Posted by TheGoblinKing; Fark
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: