W. T. Hatch and Other Foibles

Some saltier navy guys used to find it a source of innocent merriment to play silly pranks on greenhorn newbies. As in most endeavors new people get sized up by the old timers. Aboard ship the gullibility quotient of a new crew member was measured by how quickly they responded to mystery missions. Examples: 

  • "You have the mail buoy watch. Get a pair of binoculars and go out to the bow. Look carefully for it as everyone is waiting for letters from home!"
  • "Go down to the engine room and get some grease for the relative bearings."
  •  "Go see the bosun and ask him for twenty feet of shore line."
  • "You are on CGU11 ("See-Gee-You-Eleven" = sea gull) watch. Go out on deck and report when you see any". (Or B-1-RD watch ("Bee-One-Are-Dee" = bird.)
  •  "Go down to the engine room and get a left handed pipe wrench." (Or a brass magnet, or some bulkhead remover.)
  •  "Ask the second mate for some starboard lamp oil. Make sure that it's green!" (Or "ask him if you can borrow the sun line".)
  •  "Go down to the engine room and ask for a BT punch." (BT=the boiler tender on watch.) Alternately, "go find the chief boatswain's mate. Ask him for a bosun's punch".
  •  "Find the chief electrician and tell him the sound powered phones are getting weak and need new batteries."


And there was the elusive shipmate W.T. Hatch. While said to be nonexistent he signed official looking notices, appeared as your relief on whimsical watch lists and checked out parts and tools. And you could never find W.T. when you were looking for him.