Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's be fair

I've been called a blogger in ways that make the word sound disgusting. One commenter called me over-protective. Another used the term overbearing and several have called my son anything from a brat to a little whiner or a mommy's boy. One even said members of the airwing were like rockstars in hotels. Why all the name calling?

I've read comments from strangers who suggested that I tossed out an incorrect number of years my son has served. Yeah, yeah. I know he's a grown man, pointed out in one blog as a 30-something Petty Officer who should know better than to cry to mommy when things aren't pristine and perfect. That blogger also suggested I should have kept quiet, rather than detract from the ship's true mission while on deployment.

I will admit I don't understand military life, especially ship life. That doesn't mean I can't become righteously outraged as a taxpayer and patriotic American when I believe our deployed military deserve to be able to relieve themselves without having to search for a head, only to find it locked.

I never intended to detract from the mission of the USS George HW Bush or to minimize its military might or position in the fleet. My only intention was to voice my concern as a taxpayer - more than my opinion as a mother - that there is something inherently wrong with a $6.2 Billion aircraft carrier that did not have a back up plan for the most basic of human needs. I don't mind for one minute, spending the taxpayers' money on ships as technologically advanced and powerful as the USS George HW Bush. I know the need for a show of force in the world.

My son's first deployment was on one of the older carriers, so why not end his career on the newest? When I started hearing about the toilets - and not just from my son - but from other Navy Moms, Navy Wives, Navy Dads and Navy Husbands - even from friends of sailors on the ship - I became annoyed, then upset, then angry. When our loved ones are suffering, we suffer at home, too.

Maybe starting my blog wasn't the wisest decision I have ever made. Perhaps, I shouldn't have sent the link to my blog to quite so many media outlets, but when I found out about the locks, I think it unlocked my rational thinking. I couldn't imagine there would be something so barbaric happening in the 21st century. What blows my mind is how many people have visited my site and have linked it to their own blogs or news stories - people I did not contact.

Samuel Johnson said, "No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company."

Born at the beginning of the 18th century, Mr. Johnson had no clue about aircraft carriers. The Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk would come nearly a century later.

My point is that with strict instructions to relieve themselves only in working heads - and for a short time, those heads being locked - the men and women on board the USS George HW Bush may as well have been prisoners confined to POW cells.

It's unfortunate that people have resorted to blame, name calling and finger pointing. Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda....

Still, here are some amusing and some poignant comments I found.

On Old Salt Blog:
Bill Whalen says: November 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm
NCIS is investigating this but they have nothing to go on.

Steven Toby says: November 18, 2011 at 9:56 am
I’m remembering similar reports on the vac-u-flush system first installed in Spruance class destroyers in 1977. By the time I did sea trials in 2 different CG 47 class cruisers (same basic design as the Spruances, in the 1980′s) the system worked perfectly. But carriers of that time had an older system with gravity drainage. Is the Bush system the first installation of vacuum flushing on a carrier? Maybe the equipment can’t handle the larger extent of piping? Whatever the problem, 6 months is plenty of time to fix it. Crewpeople shouldn’t have to relieve themselves over the lee rail.

Comments on the report on Neptunus Lex led me to research Dr. Samuel Johnson's full quote.

MikeD November 15, 2011 at 8:15 am
Unless they’ve taken to flushing cloth towels down the commode, any toilet that is rendered inoperable by what those sailors are flushing is too damn delicate to be on a warship.

SK1 November 15, 2011 at 8:16 am
This issue was a key one in AFGHN. IF you found working toilets, it was a miracle of sorts and also IF they were usable. PORT-A-POTTIES were the norm, and imagine what those were like after sitting in the 120 degree heat for a few hours/ days…..They had a firm there to take care of it but no amount of effort ever made it adequate…..I can imagine the same issue on a ship would be intolerable….

This may be my favorite:

Busbob November 15, 2011 at 8:13 am
“When used properly, the system works as designed,” the Navy said. “Ongoing education is a key part of the solution, ensuring that all hands understand the appropriate use of the system.”
Bulls***. Put the design engineers on the ship. Feed them well. Water them well. The “Ongoing education” they get will get whilst searching for a suitable relief station should lead to action, not words.