Thursday, January 13, 2022

'Those in peril on the sea'


YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 20, 2021) Sailors assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), operate a firehose during the general shipboard firefighting and self-contained breathing apparatus (GSF/SCBA) course at Service Warfare School Command (SWSC), Engineering Learning Site (ELS) at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. The purpose of the GSF/SCBA course is to train Sailors to properly combat damage control casualties. Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and, as 7th Fleet command ship, actively works to foster relationships with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific Region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Trinity Benjamin).

     Like many boys, I love ships and sailing, at least in theory. I wrote a book about crossing the Atlantic on a merchant marine vessel, the TS Empire State out of Ft. Schuyler, and seldom pass up the opportunity to climb aboard a water craft of any kind, from kayaks and rowing sculls to a three-masted wooden sailing ship and a modern missile frigate. 
     And as a member of the media, I regularly receive big packages of canned stories about sailors from the U.S. Navy, keyed to their hometowns. I try to take a few moments to gaze over them. I've gotten some interesting stories, such as this one, about that "slab-sided techno-iceberg" of a ship, the USS Zumwalt.
Jason Timmos (US Navy photo)
   In the latest offering, there was Chicago's own, Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Jason Timmos, in the Philippine Sea, performing, as the Navy describes it, with characteristic thoroughness, "maintenance on an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, assigned to the “Black Eagles” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, in the hangar bay of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (VINCSG) is on a scheduled deployment in U.S. 7th Fleet to enhance interoperability through alliances and partnerships while serving as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region."
     Not to take anything away from Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Isaiah B. Goessl, who took the photo, but, well, compare it to the firefighting photo above. Now THAT is something that would enliven a man's blog on a cold January day. Hats off to Trinity Benjamin, who took the shot.
      Anyway, I thought both worth sharing, one for its visual pop, one for the person it highlights. If this blog post somehow finds its way to the service members involved, please know that your country is grateful that you are out there, sailing the mighty oceans, keeping our nation safe, from external enemies anyway, and Chicago is particularly proud of Jason Timmos, and ready to welcome him with open arms, cold beer and hot pizza.
     Until that day comes, a parting thought. I once had the pleasure of visiting the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The oldest ship afloat, "Old Ironsides" was launched in 1797. At their gift shop I bought a keychain that on one side shows a Cracker Jack seaman in a peacoat and and the words, "US Navy—Lone Sailor" and on the back, a sentiment that the sailors I mention, or their families, might appreciate. I'm not much into prayer, but this is a good one:
Eternal Father
Strong to save
Whose arms hath bound
the restless wave
Who bids the mighty
Ocean deep
its appointed
limits keep
Oh hear us when we
cry to thee
for those in peril
on the sea.


  1. This lead me down an interesting internet thread- what is the oldest ship afloat? The constitution was built in 1797, but the HMS Victory was built in 1759 and is still in the water as a museum ship.

    As you might imagine, there are very technical debates and precise terms for it each category. Victory is the oldest ship still in commission, but since it is at a drydock( usually afloat, but not at sea) the Constitution can claim that other title.

  2. The fire fighting photo (completely unintentional alliteration) reminded me of boot camp in San Diego in 1960 in which we were subjected to two rather mild ordeals that I doubt are in use in today's Navy: one, we donned gas masks, were told to enter a gas filled structure, and then ordered to remove the masks; second, we entered a brick building filled with manger like tubs filled with some flammable liquid, which was then ignited and we were told to stay close to the floor and make our way deliberately and carefully to the door -- apparently, there always were a few who panicked and fled the place as quickly as they were able (Yossarian types perhaps). Not sure if I should be proud of my remaining in the there amongst the flames and smoke until we were allowed to orderly crawl out. As I said, the Navy probably doesn't do those things any more, though come to think of it, we also were required to hold on to a fire hose such as the photo displays -- no easy task just to hold on; that's a lot of pressure and I'm sure we were cautioned that dropping the damned thing
    would be quite dangerous to everyone in the area.


    1. The Air Force still does the gas mask orientation as you described during basic training. They have a largish group in a structure, and start moving them out almost immediately after they remove their masks.

  3. Not just a prayer. It's the Navy Hymn. The music is gorgeous.

    1. I did not know that. It is lovely, thanks for sharing it.

  4. "Eternal Father, Strong to Save"( AKA "The Navy Hymn") is a British seafarers' hymn, particularly in the maritime armed services. Written in 1860, its author, William Whiting, was inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107. It was popularized by the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy in the late 19th century, and variations of it were soon adopted by many branches of the armed services in the U.S. and the U.K.

    Armed forces that have adapted the hymn include the Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, the British Army, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps. It is known by many names, variously referred to as the Hymn of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, the Royal Navy Hymn, the U.S. Navy Hymn (or just The Navy Hymn), and sometimes by the last line of its first verse, "For Those in Peril on the Sea"... [Wikipedia]

    It was also the opening theme of the old "Navy Log" TV series (CBS in 1955-56 and ABC in 1956-58), which featured dramatic re-enactments of true stories from the files of the Defense Department. "Navy Log" used little-known actors (including a young Clint Eastwood), although better-known performers sometimes hosted, including JFK for the PT-109 episode.

    Whenever I hear the Navy Hymn, I naturally think of being a kid, and of watching "Navy Log" in black-and-white. Or I think of the Titanic.

  5. "Aye, tear her tattered ensign down!
    Long has it waved on high.
    And many an eye has danced to see
    that banner in the sky..."

    I memorized the Oliver Wendel Holmes poem about "Old Ironsides" as a schoolboy. Not sure why. Perhaps because my big brother was at sea, serving on the USS Enterprise. Long ago but most of it still sticks in memory.

    "Eternal Father" strong to save, written by a 19th Century Cambridge scholar and choirmaster, has, set to music, been adopted by both the U.S. and Royal Navies as the official Navy Hymn. (All the military services have more martial theme songs, but no other hymn that I know of.} No seafaring man hears it without a lump rising in his throat, as it has in mine on many, some of them sad, occasions.

    I would be surprised if today's 'Boots' did not get a fair amount of fire-suppression training. No place more dangerous than a warship at sea on fire.



Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.