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April 10, 2006
SNIPES A Poem and Tribute
Joseph Rachel Destroyer Photo Archive
USS STRIBLING (DD-867) Enters Monaco, June 1972
I served in USS STRIBLING (DD-867) from August 1970 through July 1972 as Main Propulsion Assistant. I was aboard STRIB when this picture was taken. View another photo of STRIB, with "bone in her teeth."
USS Capodanno (FF-1093) Underway during a MED deployment, 1988
I served in USS CAPODANNO (FF-1093) from July 1975 through July 1977 as Engineer Officer.
USS BAGLEY (FF-1069) Underway departing San Diego harbor, circa mid-1979
I served in USS BAGLEY (FF-1069) from July 1977 through January 1979 as Engineer Officer.
Many a poet have written sailor tales
About South Sea Isles and furious gales
So, I'll not waste your time with a tale of this type
Rather, I'll write of the sweaty, greasy snipe.
He works in his hole when the temperature is right
When the thermometer reads one twenty Fahrenheit.
There's no salt water in his blood,
Just stinking fuel oil and slimey bilge crud.
He goes to sea with visions of bright sun, and wind swept spray
But there are no hours of this in his working day.
Four hours on and eight hours off, and between, turn to and watch relief
No matter whether a boot FA or a salty Chief.
He works all hours and never tires.
And he can fix anything wih permatex and bailing wire.
When the ship pulls into port with the crew all in whites
There's a standing order for him to stay out of sight.
No bronze skin for this oily stud,
He's only time for a soggy butt and a cup of mud.
He's got a leak to fix, and a pump to pack
Before he can hit his long empty rack.
When the ship's inport and the crew's ashore
He's still in his hole sweating from very pore.
While deckapes and radiogirls are filled with glee
He must again get his engines ready for sea.
But, he's not mad, and he don't cry
He's just glad that cows don't fly.
For the fact is known both far and near
That this is the life of an engineer.
Source: I can't remember who shared this poem with me so very long ago. To this day the sweet smell of diesel engine exhaust is comforting, as it signals that the Emergency Diesel Generator has started and will soon be on the line. It means we'll have a fighting chance to recovery from yet another "drop the load" and bring the main plant back on the line and the ship underway again.
This entry is in honor of all the "Snipes" [marine engineers] who ever served at sea in a US Navy ship.
See also: USS CAPODANNO.org
Posted by niganit at April 10, 2006 8:40 PM
More like this: Anonymous
From the deep bowels of the USS Donald B Beary FF-1085
"Mission Sailors Always"
The Snipes Lament
Now each of us from time to time, have gazed upon the sea. We watched the warships pulling out, to keep this country free. Most of us have read a book, or heard a lusty tale, about the men who sail these ships, through lightning, wind and hail. But there’s a place within each ship, that legend fails to teach. It’s down below the waterline, it takes a living toll... A hot metal living hell, that sailors call the “hole.” It houses engines run by steam, that makes the shafts go round. A place of fire, noise and heat that beats your spirit down. The engines are molded by gods without remorse, that are nightmares in a dream. Whose boilers threat that from the fires roar and superheated steam. Makes the "hole" like living hell, that at any minute, with tormented scorn, escape the pipes and crush you out. Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone in the ships bowels,thinking of being lost in hell. As ordered from Bridge above, to the Snipes a duty to answer every bell. The men who keep the fires lit, and make the engines run, are strangers to the world of day light, and rarely see the sun. They have no time for man or God, no tolerance for fear. Their aspect pays no living thing, the tribute of a tear. For there’s not much that men can do, that these men have not done. Beneath the decks deep in the hole, to make the engines run. And every hour of every day, they keep the watch in hell. For if the fires ever fail, their ship’s becomes a useless shell. When ships converge to make war upon the sea. The men below just grimly smile, at what their fate might be. They’re locked in below like men for doomed, who hear no battle cry. It’s well assumed that if they’re hit, the men below will die. For every day’s a war down there, when the gauges all read red, Twelve hundred pounds of heated steam, can kill you mighty dead. So if you ever write their sons, or try to tell their tale. The very words would make you hear, a fired furnace’s wail. And people as a general rule, don’t hear of men of steel. So little’s heard about the place, that sailors call the “hole.” But I can sing about this place, and try to make you see. The hardened life of men down there, cause one of them is me. I’ve seen these sweat soaked heroes fight, in superheated air, To keep their ship alive and right through no one knows they’re there. And thus they’ll fight for ages on, till warships sail no more. Amid the boiler’s mighty heat, and the turbines hellish roar. So when you see a ship pull out, to meet a warlike foe, Remember faintly if you can, “THE MEN WHO SAIL BELOW, that call the HOLE their home."
Black Shoe Snipe
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