The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Explaining the Gizmos

I can neither confirm nor deny that I may…or may not…have been born with an mischievous streak.  I’ve heard the whisperings, but to date, little evidence exists.  Well, there are two bits of evidence.  The first is a rare photo:

Innocent and pure as the driven snow

Innocent and pure as the driven snow

The second is a bit of anecdotal evidence:

So there I was, Sonar Supervisor on watch, in an undisclosed zone somewhere in the Atlantic, hundreds of feet below the surface, when a tightly-wound and naive O-gang non-qual comes sniffing around for signatures. He’s been in before, and frankly, isn’t picking up stuff as fast as he thinks he is. He wants to know what the gizmos in the back of the shack do, and by golly, I’m the guy to teach him, apparently,  He plops himself down in front of the BQR-25 and awaits his lesson. Me, being the all-wise-aleck 2nd-class that I was, sense a victim.

I commence to explain to him that this is a top-secret listening device connected to the towed array. The little crank-knob dial (which is for steering a virtual listening beam) I explain “actually turns the end of the array around in the ocean like a snake’s head, and can stick to the side of a Commie submarine with a suction cup hydrophone on the end.”

I feel his sense of wonder, and it’s pure fuel to me. Being aware that we only have one distant merchant contact at the time and no expectations of anything remotely entertaining, I begin to explain to him that we can listen to soviet wardroom conversations in the right conditions, right through their hull, by steering and attaching it via this steering knob. I quickly add that of course any such actual contact would be HIGHLY classified, and that sonar would instantly become an exclusion area – only people with “need to know” allowed, regardless of security clearance level. I set him to training the listening beam around with the crank knob, and hand him a set of headphones from out of the patch panel to practice with. I neglected to tell him that the phones he has are actually the secondary set for the main broadband stack – the one with the big hydrophone array in the front of the boat.
 At this point I nudge my aux operator at the front of the shack, who growls the TMOW, a good friend of mine who happens to know a few words of Russian If he stands between the torpedo tubes and talks real loud, he can be faintly heard on broadband. My aux operator surreptitiously fills him in on the SitRep.

Two minutes later the hapless nub’s eyes fly open, he throws the ‘phones at me, says,”I’m not supposed to be here!”, and disappears.

20 seconds later the Weps Officer is standing in sonar, finding us nearly in tears laughing.

Another minute later, the skipper shows up, looking alarmed, and finds all of us – now including the Weps – still laughing. I’ll give him credit, he really, really tried to keep a straight face.

Ah…good times!




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