Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I sure hope they've gotten better...

I sure hope they've gotten better ... than they were when was in the Navy (the early '70s).  I was on the USS Long Beach CGN-9 (now decommissioned and sold for scrap), and we had a pair of 5 inch guns on board.  A crew of Marines manned those guns, and we occasionally engaged in some target practice – usually shooting at either towed targets or at stationary targets on small islands off the coast of California.

The ability of our gun crews to miss their target was the stuff of USS Long Beach legend.  We heard stories of ships that would refuse to tow targets for us to shoot at, from the (entirely justified) fear that our guns would hit them instead of the target – no matter how long the towline was.  I remember watching target practice against an island target and seeing shells landing hundreds of yards from their aim point.  From all I could tell, the bad reputation our guns had was well-earned.

I was an enlisted guy, and my living quarters (a “berthing compartment”) was shared with 40 or 50 other technically-oriented enlisted guys (ETs and DSs, for the most part).  Our berthing compartment was right next to the Marines' berthing compartment, and there was a seldom used hatch (door) between the two.  One day after target practice we heard a commotion from the Marines' side.  A couple of us went over to see what the fuss was, and it turned out that a bunch of Marines were delivering some physical justice to the gun crew – for having dishonored the Marine Corps with their bad shooting.

One hopes things aren't quite so bad these days...

No comments:

Post a Comment