MY NAVY MOP EXPERIENCE
Well folks, the ship you see
above was my very first ship, USS
Sheldrake (AGS-19), a minesweeper, one of
the many that I was proud to serve on, and I
would have to say had the cleanest decks in
the U.S. Navy.
I do believe, I along with all us other
divers, during the course of our “time
aboard” mopped, cleaned, and painted every
inch of that ship many times over. When I
was not over the side playing with a mine,
and trying to stay alive....I either had a mop,
broom, or paint brush in my hand....just like
every other “sea mate”.
Now you may think to “swab” a deck
is no big deal, but let me tell you it is not an
easy task....especially when you’re a “greenhorn”
kid....fresh out of “Navy dive school”,
and this is your “first ship”.
First day we headed up to
“Greenland” along the eastern seaboard. I
mean to tell you it was cold as hell, waves
about 6 to 10 ft. with sea swells way above
that. A fine morning mist, cloudy, and just a
“Yuk” kind of morning to be on the main
deck of a pitching & rolling ship.
Well you see my duties of diving did
not begin until a mine was spotted, and that
was not expected until we reach the northern
corners of that god awful place of
Greenland. So, until that time I was
expected to get my butt up on main deck,
along with the rest of the crew and keep that
cork in the water clean.
So....we gathered on the main deck
to get our assignments....and since I was the
“new man” on the pole....yep, you got it I got
the “crap detail”.....mopping!!!!!!
So the Chief Boatswains mate
assigned me an area, and stood around in his
warm foul-weather gear, and cup of coffee
to see that I “mopped correctly”.
Now how in the world can “you not”
he instructed me several times, and each
time he chewed my butt, but I did
accomplish the task eventually....surprise,
You would think that would be the
end of this “Sea Story”.....well not
yet....there is one more “stupid” thing that
the “Green-horn” kid accomplished...and let
me tell you it was a real jewel.
Ok, it came about “chow time” and
the ole Chief Boatswain Mate was getting
tired of watching us mop....[in my opinion I
do believe he was getting tired of walking to
the chow hall to get his coffee]...can’t you
tell I “just love this guy”.
Anyway....he tells us all to go clean
out our mops, clean ourselves up and report
to the “mess deck”.
So.....here I am holding this damn
mop...wondering now how do you clean this
darn thing???? So...I follow the rest of the
crew...and do as they do......I mean that seem
reasonable to me...if you don’t know you ask
or “do as others do”.
Well we went to the “fantail” of the
ship....to you “non-seaman” that is the back
of the ship. I learned that you tie a line on
the mop, throw it overboard, and as it
tumbles in the “wash” of the propeller of the
ship...it cleans the mop. Hey, that look like
a great thing to me....so while we went to
“chow” the mops would clean
themselves....all we had to do later was “dry
the mops”. Looked like a heck of a deal to
So....I tied mine with a line and
threw that puppy in the “backwash” of the
seawater from the ship.....and went and had
my navy bean soup, and corn bread.
Well later that afternoon....I was in
the “crew compartment” helping to clean the
area, and some crew member ask me to go
get my “dry mop” and help mop the crews
Oh my God!!!!!....I forgot my mop
was not only dry...it was still “tumbling”
behind the ship.
So....I hustled my butt up to the
fantail of the ship....well everyone else had
gotten there mops...except ole Bud.
I started to haul mine in...and guess
who show up....Yep, you guessed right that
Mr. Good-natured Boatswain Mate.
So....in I pulled.....and as I lifted my
mop up...I could see there was no “cotton
strands” on my mop....”IT WAS ALL
Well Mr. Good-natured
Man...couldn’t laugh enough....you see I left
the mop in that “tumbling action for so long
it tore all the cotton stands from the mop”
When I pulled up the mop ....all I had left
was the “nub” where it is attached to the
handle. I mean to tell you ....there was not
enough left on the mop to dry a fly nest.
So....the ole Boatswain grabbed that
mop...took it down to the crews quarters,
along with instructing ole Bud to come
along....and showed the “whole crew” what
happens when you leave a mop to long
behind a ship.
Then he “pats my back” an says,
“And this fine young man that provided this
for us, is the same individual that is going to
keep us from getting blown up”.
Tell you what folks.....that only
happened once.....but over the course of a
few months....there was a time or two that
the ole Boatswain Mate said a few
prayers.....and thanked me....that he was not
“food for the fishes”....but that is all of
“another story” at “another time”.
Yep folks the Navy was “short one
mop”....but ole Bud gain one heck of a