A day in the life of a DCA



I received this great story from Raul, a Navy veteran. If this isn’t a Broadside Moment, I don’t know what is.

Back in the mid 80’s I was the Damage Control Assistant (DCA)/R-Division officer of my ship, and we were responsible for fixing all the problems related to CHT (Collection Holding Transfer), i.e., toilet problems.

One early morning I picked up the phone and the person at the other end was none other than the XO. He was laughing and he said, “DCA, I need you to come over to my stateroom.” He hung up. I jumped off my chair and poked my head in the CHENG’s office (Chief Engineer) to asked him if he knew what was going on. He said he had no clue and wished me luck.

When I got to the XO’s stateroom, he was all smiles. He pointed to his shower area and told me to talk to my guys. As I approached them, I saw a CO2 bottle on the floor with the hose connected and the exhaust side modified. Instead of a horn at the end it had a small half inch diameter tube attached to it. I knew then and there I was in trouble.

My ship was over forty years old, and there were sections of CHT piping as old as the ship. Due to the age of the vessel, sometimes we came across some weird welding jobs that were not documented anywhere.

The XO’s toilet had been giving us problems now for a whole week. It kept clogging. The last time that happened, I told my guys, “The next time we have a problem with the XO’s toilet, FIX IT! I don’t care how you do it.” Well they did. A CO2 bottle with a modified tip can produce over 800 psi at the end of it when activated. No amount of gunk can stand that kind of pressure. It was not an approved way to unclog the lines, but it worked. I had been warned by my boss to stop my guys from doing that.

I asked the First Class Petty Officer to tell me what happened. He told me to go to LT Harris’ Stateroom and take a look. Lt Harris was one of the saltiest, meanest LDOs I ever had the pleasure to meet. When I opened his stateroom door I could not believe my eyes. On three sides of the stateroom, starting about 4 feet off the floor and going upwards there was a light brown color. Spots were sprinkled all over the bulkheads. And in the air was just a wonderful smell of – well, you can guess.

It turned out that someone in the past had welded the “gray water” line from the sink in LT Harris’ stateroom to the CHT line coming off the XO’s Stateroom. When my guys used the CO2 canister to “flush” the line, everything came out at the point of least resistance – the sink in LT Harris’ Stateroom.

Everyone in the Wardroom got a laugh out of that one for a long time – except LT Harris and me.

Thanks for the sea story, Raul!

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