Popeye's Sea Stories

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
When I was a young sailor on the JFK I was just an airmen and the First class mess had a sign on the door as was the style of the day. It said "Fly locker". (You know fly's eat crap and bother people) Complete with a painting of a nasty looking fly with dungarees on with a PO1 crow emblazoned on his shirt...sweet!


Carriers have minor fires more often than you could imagine. At least 2 or three a week. Example, a fan room fire, trash can, vent fires, grease from the galley etc etc... Usually minor fires.

One time on the JFK I was ditty bopin' down the hangar deck probably heading to chow and I heard on the 1MC. "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire in Hangar Bay two! Aircraft 101 is on fire! Away the Flying Squad away!" Guess who was withing 20 feet of aircraft 101?? Me! All I saw was sparks and smoke coming from the belly tank(I thought) on a VF-14 Phantom. actually what was on fire was the electrical connectors for that tank. The fire hoses were being dragged out by blue shirts. This first class grabbed me by the shoulder and told me to man that hose...Me and anyone else who was near by. Anyway some guys from VF-14 jet shop and ordies dropped that tank shoved it into the MED and put the fire out with an C0/2 extinguisher in no time flat. I'd say in less than two minutes. Awesome..


One thing sailors do admire about the USAF is their facilities. Especially the barracks. The barracks the USN had back in the 70s were from WWII. No kidding. Old open bay barracks. Even most of the newer barracks were open bay..I know guys on shore duty hated that.

Back in '75 on the Hanna we stopped in Pearl briefly. Myself and another man AO3 LA went over to Hickam because we head a lot of girls were in the enlisted clubs and the food was great. Sure enough lots of girls and great food. We were walking back to the bus stop and this airmen asked us did we need a ride. Sure we say. He started to drive us and we started shooting the breeze about this and that. He invited us to his barracks to get a drink. Ok we say...So when we arrived we were very surprised to see that this airmen had a room by himself in a barracks that looked like a hotel. It was as nice as any barracks I've seen since. After a couple of beers he drove us back to the Hanna. The OOD let us bring the zoomie on board for a short tour. He was astounded.. Needless to say. Since it was at night he decided to return to Hanna the next day for the full Monty tour. we sure gave it to him. He said he had a new respect for sailors living on board ships. ..And I'm still jealous of USAF barracks..

Keep 'em flyin' boys!

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
As I mentioned earlier in this thread I rated the Hancock as my 4th most favorite ship..Only because the food sucked big time and the ship had severe engineering problems. If a ship today had the engineering problems Hanna had back in the mid 70s she would not get underway today let alone deploy.

But if I rated ships and excluded food and that ships ability to get underway and be on time meeting commitments Hanna would be #2.. I can't. What good is a ship that is a crap shoot 50% of the time performance wise?

The JFK ,America & Nimitz were all very similar in design. Epically the 03 level and second deck..Nimitz messdeck was nearly amidship was the only big difference on the second deck. You could take a sailor from each one of those ships and transplant them and in a few days they would have no trouble getting about on those gigantic warships.

Midway was different. But not at all like the Hanna..

Aaahhh but put that same sailor on the Hanna..And he would need a map. On those ships above the messdecks, wardroom, personal offices many division offices are on the second deck..Not on the Hancock..Squadron ready rooms were on the second deck. Mess deck, offices etc were on the third deck. That's right. The third deck..I can't remember where the Wardroom was???... The Hancock below decks was a maze.

One interesting thing about the Hanna was that it had an escalator that went from the hangar deck to the island. It had a switch to send it up or down...We use to jerk with guys something fierce on that thing. Epically zeros(Officers).."Sorry sir did not see you there!"..

One of the best things for me on the Hancock was that I did not have to eat that nasty chow as long as I was on the flight deck. We could order box lunches in flight deck control. Ya' always got two sandwiches, juice, milk, couple pieces of fruit, carrots and celery sticks and some sort of desert. That carried me through the whole day. In port Popeye was always on liberty in the Philippines and just ate at the Sampagita Club or up in Cubi Pt at the Virgina Room...How the heck do I remember all this stuff?? Dunno..I just do.. aarrvv..


Lieutenant General
That's weird. I assume all US Naval Carrier ships would have standard chow. Either way, I'm sure it's much better than the Army. Army food sucks big time..especially breakfast for the ROTC and Officers Candidate school in Ft. Lewis, WA.

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
That's weird. I assume all US Naval Carrier ships would have standard chow. Either way, I'm sure it's much better than the Army. Army food sucks big time..especially breakfast for the ROTC and Officers Candidate school in Ft. Lewis, WA.

C'mon now.. you can hardly screw up breakfast.. guess the Army did..huh??

Nowadays the food is pretty standard.. the best food is ashore. Next would be subs then who knows:confused: I just know when I served the food really varied.

My ex-wife worked food service as a civilian for a USN contractor for about 30 years. Her last place she worked was the sub base in San Diego. They had excellent food.I ate many a meal there after I retired from the USN.


Lieutenant General
C'mon now.. you can hardly screw up breakfast.. guess the Army did..huh??

Nowadays the food is pretty standard.. the best food is ashore. Next would be subs then who knows:confused: I just know when I served the food really varied.

My ex-wife worked food service as a civilian for a USN contractor for about 30 years. Her last place she worked was the sub base in San Diego. They had excellent food.I ate many a meal there after I retired from the USN.

LOL...oh yes they can. Everything is either too salty or too blend. And when you are on the field doing FTX (field training exercises) you get a mermite breakfast.

Now I thought Dr. Suess's Green Eggs and Ham was just a fictional children story, that no such ever existed. Nope I was wrong. No it's not because it turned rotten or bad it's just the discoloring coming from the container that made it that way. It's a small amount and very lightly green, but still I was too hungry to care and hog it down.

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
I do not like green eggs and ham.. I do not like them Sam I am. I don't like them in a boat. I don't like them in a moat. I don't like green eggs and ham. I don't like them Sam I am.

All the ships I was on had eggs to order. Even the Hancock. Sometimes if they'd served frozen eggs..that's right. they came in a big block. They were always scrambled. Only in boot camp did I ever see the dreaded powdered eggs.

I remember during Desert Storm. Marines were always flying out to the Nimitz and other carriers to use our facilities for aircraft intermediate level maintenance that they were not set up for. They always remarked how good the chow was on the Nimitz.
Last edited:

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
The USN & USMC probably have more slang & terms than any other service..

Gedunk..candy, snacks soda etc.. also anything that is BS or not that important.
bulkhead = wall
overhead =Ceiling
deck = floor
galley = kitchen
mess deck = chow hall on board ship
scuttlebutt = drinking fountain or a rumor
MDI = Mess Deck Intelligence
pecker checker = Hospital corpsman(medic)
snipe = engineering sailor
Airedale = aviation sailor
blackshoe = any one else
The Gut = Area of bars and prostitutes in Mediterranean ports.
zero = officer
turd chaser = Hull tech (They do plumbing)
tit-less wave = anyone in admin..That's an old Navy term no longer used.
WAVE cage = Female barracks..sorry old term.
Reactor trout = fish sticks on an CVN
Topside = upper decks or decks exposed to the weather.
Deck ape = Boatswain mate
boot camper = someone fresh outta boot camp.
Pollywog = a sailor that has not been initiated by crossing the equator.
Shellback = a sailor that has crossed the equator and been inatiated.
sea lawyer = a sailor that thinks he knows everything and how to skirt the regs..
Air Boss = Air Officer on a carrier. He's in charge of the flight deck. He is god of the flight deck. Period.
Bumertown = Bremerton WA
'Po City = Olongopo City Republic of the Philippines
San Dog = San Diego CA
Bird farm= Aircraft Carrier
Flattop = aircraft carrier
Mess Crank or Crank = A Mess Cook(KP)
Rain locker = Shower
Rotor Head = An airdale sailor that maintains or is a helo crewmen.
Skylarking = goofing around
Bremolow = An obese Navy wife.
Sea Daddy = an endearing term for an old salt(experienced sailor)
Bubblehead = Submariner
Snipe = Someone working in engineering
Dodge City = Downtown Diego Garcia
Bulkhead Remover = An item for newbies to fetch
Deep Six = Dump it
Sliders and beans: hamburgers served on a bed of baked beans.
Boondockers: Low cut work shoes
Pull chocks: Time to get out
Hernia Bar: manual weapons loading bar
Float test: throwing stuff overboard
Double Nuts: Aircraft with "00" as squadron serial numbers (Usually the CAG aircraft)
helo = helicopter
bird = naval aircrfat

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
Strange stuff happens at sea...For instance..getting lost in a fog..Oh yea.. back in Nov. or Dec '73 the Midway got lost in a very thick fog for three days off the northern Japanese coast of Hokkaido.

Actually we weren't lost.. the fog was so thick we could not see a thing. I swear on the flight deck you could not see more than 100 feet in any direction. Now someone is thinking..Why not just navigate with the radar?

1) Ya' still need to see where you are going and objects in your path.

2)This was after the US had pulled most of it's forces out of Vietnam. The USN probably did not want to risk the embarrassment of a collision with a heavy anti-military sentiment back stateside.

Humm..Stateside. that of course means the USA. But a different term some of used was "The World". Because nothing is like the USA when you are so separated from our country..nothing.

Curtis Mayfield wrote a tune called "Back to the World" after visiting troops in Vietnam circa 1972..


I remember especially on the America when the snipes would emerge from the hole after we'd been to sea about two months..Them shipmates just did not look right. They were pale..even the brothas!

The snipes on the Hanna had it really tough in those WWII fire rooms. Man it was blazin' hot down there. Poor old Hanna kept breakin' down..they'd kept fixin' her. Once off of Subic we had just launched the first or second launch of the morning and I was calling in my launch report over the 5jg2(weapons dept sound powered phones) and suddenly everything went black. Hanna had lost all power! We were lifeless in the water. After about 20 minutes the auxillary power plant was fired up and we did have a little power. I guess some sort of engineering catastrophic failure had occurred and the snipes on Hanna could not repair it. The aircraft that had been launched were sent to the beach in NAS Cubi Pt.

It is to my understanding that the CO , Capt. Fred "Field Day" Fellows, was given the choice being towed back to Subic for repairs. Or have some of those Filipino shipyard workers from to get the ship underway so we could get to Hong Kong on time..The Co chose the latter.After the Hanna lost all power it was no showers for two days.. It was hard to get a drink of water except on the mess decks. We could basically just mill about smartly for two days. But guess what?..There was enough water by the time we got to Hong Kong to have Field day..I remember by the time we got to Hong Kong I was really hungry for some real food.. The first thing I ate was some fish and chips.. Later that first day I ate the best steak I ever ate in my life. They kinda fixed the Hanna to get to Hong Kong. We spent 5 or 6 days there. Then limped back to Subic for a lengthy in port period for repairs.

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
It's amazing how things refreshed in my memory as I read these stories.

We called her Fightin' hanna.. she was the queen of the sea!

Capt. Fred "Field Day" Fellows was the skipper of the Hanna when I was on board. When he took over the ship it was dirty. About 6 weeks later it was clean ..not perfect but clean. After a couple of in port periods in Subic Bay once we deployed it was immaculate. Clean as any ship I ever served on. Why?..Field Day & "Sweepers". We had field day and zone inspection just before entering port. On the Hanna there were only three grades for zone inspection...

2) Satisfactory
3) Unsatisfactory i.e. "Unsat"

As zone inspections were being held the grades were announced on the 1mc..so everyone could know the score..

Believe me you did not want your division to get anything graded "unsat"... Zone inspections were held as we were pulling into port. If your division got all OUTSTANDING'S on your spaces your division got max liberty in port. Weapons department & all her divisions always got outstanding on every space.

Now if your division got an Unsatisfactory on any space. You had to wait for the CDO to re-inspect your whole division at about 1700 or there about. And you'd better pass. Don't remember any divisions failing the second go around.

Capt Fellows was a tough but fair skipper. And he stood up for his men. I'll post a story about that at another time..

Oh I mentioned sweepers. On the Hanna sweepers was a serious business...The call on the 1mc..

"Sweepers sweepers man your brooms! Give the ship a good clean sweep down fore and aft! Sweep down all upper and lower deck ladders and passageways. Now sweepers!"

You'd better believe shipmates were manning the brooms.. Back in da' day..on the Fightin' Hanna..


Some time ago some one sent me a private message asking me how much faster a CV with four cats could launch aircraft than a CV with two. The answer is cannot. Not in my experience..

His statement;
With a large number of aircraft spotted on deck at any given time either the bows or the angle will be crowded so it helps to have at least two cats available. I imagine deck routines on the Midways and the Essexs must have been a little more awkward due to the need to clear the bows for launching as they only had the two cats forward.

My answer I always use with this question..

This all seems possible on paper but it just does not work that way. I was on CVA-19 and CVA-41. Also CVA-67 & 66. And the mighty Nimitz.. A person would think that "well our ship has four cats and that little old Hancock has only two ergo can out launch them". Nope. Does not work that way. In my experience CVA-19 & 41 could launch aircraft faster than any of those other ships with 4 cats. Why? Superior flight deck crew in the case of the Hancock and a simple case of the A-4's being so reliable. If an A-4 was on the cat it was going off the bow. Period. And A-4's being smaller were easier to handle.

On the Midway the case was a superior flight deck crew as on the Hancock. . The Midway's flight deck was unique. It was as large as a CVA-59 class but had only two cats. When you respot with only two bow cats on a deck that big no need to worry about blocking the angle. The respot is much faster. Just leave room for the helo.

There are all sorts of factors that occur when you have 4 cats. For one thing usually only three of the four cats will be in operation. Depends on the number of aircraft being launched.

Say an aircraft breaks down on the port bow cat. You have to re-spot it somewhere. And believe you me when you do you will disrupt those waist cats. If that happens with two bow cats you just turn the aircraft around and spot it on the angle or elsewhere without much disruption of the launch.

During "Desert Storm" in 1991 the Midway , with only two cats, launched more stories than the other 5 USN CV(N) on station. I.E. Kennedy, America ,Ranger, T. Roosevelt & Saratoga.

bd popeye

The Last Jedi
VIP Professional
Hey when I was on the USS Hancock CVA-19 I had a friend named HXXXXX. We called him Hairy-dog because he had a gigantic afro when he dared to take off his hat..Hairy-dog was one of those guys that was always
sent TAD (Temporary Duty assignment). Mess decks, vent cleaning, laundry..you name it he did it.

Well ole Hairy-dog was TAD to side cleaners while we were in a RAV (restricted availability)in Almeda. He was on this little barge with his bosun mate buddies manning the air needle gun. He was chipping away when he hit a spot and BIG chunk-o-ship fell out. About 6"x10" inches. You could see in to a berthing compartment.

The Navy sent someone from NAVSHIPS to take pics and examine the hole. They x-rayed the ship, in random fashion, from the hangar deck to the water line to determine the extent of the corrosion(rust). Fightin' Hanna was deemed unworthy for continued service or preservation in the reserve fleet.

This is how it as determined that CVA-19 would be sold for scrap. Oh yeah they sent us on another cruise despite the severe corrosion.


I've made one arrested landing..granted in a C-1 Trader (COD). I was an ordananceman assigned to VS-33 aboard the America. We had to fly into RR to get a couple of practice torpedoes for our S-3s. We flew into RR via HM-15 CH-53..It was a noisy ride. I don't remember much about the base except the single people hated it. . I know if you were not stationed their you could not go on liberty..So we never got off base. We did some drinking at the EM club. Which was a shambles . It was an old Quonset hut. It was long , narrow and noisey...I do remember many of the trash cans on base were full of rum bottles. I guess drinkin' was a big pass time down there...Well I was there about two days . We loaded the torpedoes in one of our S-3s and flew back to CV-66 via a C-1 COD. That meant arrested landing..Nice. Oh yea..the pilot was a female Naval Aviator and she missed the wire the first time around. What a thrill.