A Tale of the Sea and Me – A Real Sea Story

In the late 1950’s, an ocean going minesweeper home ported in Newport, Rhode Island, had a new executive officer report aboard. He was a very devoted Christian and abhorred the Navy’s liberal use of profanity and vowed to get rid of foul language on his ship.

After he had relieved the outgoing XO, he called for a meeting of all officers in the wardroom, and quickly launched into a long and tedious lecture on restraining from using profanity. After about twenty minutes, he began to wind down and came to what he considered his clinching arugment:

“There is never a situation, never any time, where there is not a better word to use than a cuss word. You should never have to use a profanity because there is always a better word or phrase to use,” the XO remonstrated.

The old warrant boatswain in the back of the wardroom, coughed, leaned forward in his chair, and raised his hand. Although the XO already knew the bosun was the salt of the earth, a crusty old seaman who cursed a blue streak, he reluctantly acknowledged him, “Yes, Bosun?”

“Well sir, if you’ll excuse me, I do know of one situation where that wouldn’t work. In fact, it happened on board just the other day.”

In spite of his dislike for profanity and disagreement with the Bosun’s claim, the XO was curious and allowed the Bosun to continue.

“You see, sir,” the Bosun politely explained, “Seaman Jones was the kid designated for the mid-morning geedunk run.

This was before the destroyer-submarine piers had been added to the Newport Naval Station, and the old MWR geedunk van, called the “roach coach” by sailors, would stop at the head of the pier around 1000 hours. The destroyers and minesweepers moored out in the harbor would make a geedunk run in their motor whaleboats after a designated sailor would collect orders and the cash to buy snacks and cold drinks.

“When they got to the pier, Jones ran up and bought all the geedunk. There was so much, he had taken the tops of two shit cans (trash cans) to hold it all.

“When got back to the whaleboat, the sailor handling the bow line had forgot to attach it to the bollard on the pier, and when Jones put one foot on the gunnel with one foot still on the pier, the whale boat begin to float away from the pier.

“Well sir,” the Bosun continued with a wry grin, “Ole Jones was doing the splits, inevitably going in the drink. He looked at the two shit can lids full of geedunk he was holding with both outstretched arms, looked around, and he said, ‘I’m fucked!

“And XO, there ain’t no other words he could have used that were any better for  that situation.”

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