True Sea Story:

			   The case of the missing barrel switches
					   or
			How to endure yourself to the chief gunners mate!

 

		There were two barrel switches on both sides of the bridge. They were affixed
	to the bulkhead on the wings just outside the pilot house doors. The function of these
	switches was to interconnect the various gun directors to the gun mounts. Over the years
	these barrel switches became progressively less and less reliable. They were painted,
	scrapped, leaned on and abused in any number of ways. At almost every General Quarters
	I would get a call because some director could not connect to some gun mount. I would
	respond to the Gunnery Chief’s GQ station and invariably shake, twist, rattle or wiggle
	the offending switch till requested connection was reestablished. 

		One day I had a brilliant idea … those switches were there primarily to connect
	the 40MM guns to the 40MM directors, the 40MM guns had been removed by the Boston shipyard
	just before I had joined the ship ... get rid of the barrel switches! I set about to find
	some multiple wire electrical cabling that I could wire around the switches. Low and behold
	I found a catalog in supply and found the ideal cable. After acquiring the cabling I and
	the rest of the FT’s set about running the cable and rewiring around the barrel switches.
	The job was accomplished and the new system worked beautifully, no more calls, no need to
	set the switches anymore because there were switches inside the gum mounts that did the
	job anyway (Bureau of Ships redundancy). We cut the cables off that had connected the 
	switches at the deck. Time marches on!

		A few months later I got a call from the quartermasters, they were upset because
	those barrel switches were a mess and they were tired of chipping, scraping and painting
	them and anyway they belonged to the FT’s and “you guys better get up here and fix them”. 
	At that time we were in port so me and my crew got the cutting torch from the shipfitters
	and proceeded to cut the switches off the wall. We then thru them in the dumpster on the
	pier, problem solved! The quartermasters were not as happy as I had expected as there
	were holes in the wooden decking where the cables had run thru. I think they found some
	fix later, I don’t remember what it was, maybe they just got used to the holes!

		Ok, everyone’s happy! But wait, we went to Sea and sure enough there was a gunnery
	exercise and I got a call from the Chief Gunners mate to report to him on the bridge. What
	now! He wanted to know where his switches were. I proudly explained to him that they had
	been disconnected for the last few months and the switches had been removed recently.
	Well he was not as happy with this revelation as I had expected! He said “you mean I have
	been switching these switches for months that were disconnected”. Apparently he felt I
	had made a fool of him, I guess I should have told him earlier, although in my defense I
	had no idea that he actually did anything with the switches. Oh did I mention that he was
	the Chief Master-at-arms too! His GQ job was “Air Defense” and to this day I don’t know
	what his function was at that job.

 

					David Fickle FTG2 58-60