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 by David W Asche

 

As my life aboard USS Hector progressed, I was awarded the title of a Roving Security Watch Stander. This watch entailed going all over the ship after hours and inspecting the many and varied compartments to be sure there was no fire, flooding or other mischief going on undiscovered.

I had a clipboard and a list of all the compartments I had to visit and a little check mark box by each one to show I had been there. It was a fantastic way to see all the places that one doesn't normally see in the day to day life aboard a ship like Hector. I got to go in places such as the Starboard Shaft Alley, the Anchor Windlass Room, the After Steering Room and even Officers Country.

If you planned the route you took, it would still give you time to stop and chat with a few guys as you passed by their spaces.

Then it came to pass that the command thought too many Roving Security Watch Standers were a bit lax in the proper job of doing the watch. I don't see how, as the ship was still afloat and had not burnt down/up from someone not catching the flood/fire in time.

We were then equipped with what was known as a "Latham Watchmen's Clock". This was a clock in a case that also held a disc of paper that turned and had little squares in which a typed number was stamped at the time a key was put in the clocks side and turned. The clock was about eight inches in diameter, three inches thick and had a leather case and a shoulder strap to carry it with. We still also had to carry the clipboard.

Now, all over the ship were, welded to various places, a lot of these little key boxes. Each box had a flip up lid and a key with a long edge, and somewhere on this edge was a number stamp. Each key was different and would stamp its number in a certain area on the paper disc inside the clock when the watch stander would arrive at that station. The keys were held to the key box by a small chain. 

Then the rule of "All keys must be clicked in numerical order." Whom ever thought this up was a sadistic bastard! Key number one was up in the Anchor Windlass Room, key number two was down in After Steering. We only had a couple minutes to get from one key to the next, and all through the ship we had to literally run from one station to the next. Man, this SUCKED! Hector was a BIG ship!

Well, it didn't take long for my fellow Roving Security Watch Standers to start a bit of a rebellion...

Soon, certain keys came up missing...their chains cut and the little key box was now doing duty as a butt kit. The clock itself would sometimes click with a nice "tick-tock, and other times it would be strangely silent as if it wasn't working properly, as if it had been slammed or banged vigorously, or maybe dropped from the upper foundry to the lower foundry's steel deck. I'm not sure about that last one but it COULD have happened....

After a few times of getting those clocks repaired and keys replaced, it was determined to go back to just a clipboard. The ship still floated just fine and no fires broke out without notice.

 

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