1,500 hour check on them, but B-1 couldn‘t turn up fast enough to hold the load. So my ―Load- Runners‖ still have the load as usual.
The weekend of the 22nd and 23rd there was no holiday routine because the deck apes had to paint. I had the 12 to 4 watch so it didn‘t matter, but every time the deck apes have to do something (which is very seldom) they cry that the engineers have work too.
There‘s been so many times when we‘ve had to get an engine running or get late liberty, but the deck apes had holiday routine or early liberty. I don‘t see how they figure the deck rates are senior to an engineer. Any pudding head jerk can be a deck ape and stay the same for four years. I mean it really takes a lot of smarts to push a broom or clean a thunder-jug. An engineering rate, I don‘t care if its FA or an E-9 Chief, takes far more mentality and common sense than the equal deck rank, or even higher. I can just see a 4 year seaman going for a job: ―Well, I pushed a broom for 4 years.‖ And they you can see a fireman go for a job: ―I worked on diesel engines, gasoline engines, took care of small boats, ran a lathe, etc. etc…‖ This might not have much to do with the story I‘m telling, but this jazz rubs me the wrong way. The trouble with the Coast Guard is tradition. Back in the 1790s, I could see a Boatswain Mate be head honcho, but then they didn‘t have any engines then either. An engineman is the most versatile of all rates because he cares for the job or machinery he‘s working on. So much for that.
The evening of the 23rd we finally took #5 and #6 off the line and started the 1,500 hour check on #6 Main Engine. I had the 8 to 12 that night so my oiler, Donnie Wayne Wingate (Georgia) and myself pulled all the covers off and tested the injectors.
The rings were checked on the mid-watch and we found rings missing on #4 upper piston and broken on #4 lower piston.
The next morning when I went down on watch they had both pistons out, and found a big gouge in the liner. Since we had one new liner on board I knew what that meant, so we started taking down the engine. These engines have an upper crank and lower crank, so in order to change liners the upper crank has to be pulled.
At 3:30 the Chief told me to knock off and he would call me when the crank was ready to be pulled out because I am the only one in B-3 who has ever done it. As a matter of fact, I held the record so far as the engineman left on board goes for tearing down engines and pulling cranks because we were always doing it in B-3 on the Northern cruise and the last Southern cruise.
We had the crank out at 5:30, pulled the old liner, put in the new one and had the crank back in at 2:30. That is pretty good considering none of them had ever done it before.
The next morning, the 25th, we arrived in Mauritius and liberty was granted to Section 2 at 1200.
25 March to 28 March 1969 Mauritius
Mauritius has a beautiful seaport, Port Louis, and this is where we were anchored. There is hardly any dock space, so the ships are lined up in the harbor, and loading and unloading is done by barge.