Via Neptunus Lex, comes a disturbing story about the low quality of marlinspike seamanship in today’s Navy. You’ll have to follow the link to gCaptain to see the whole story, but in a nutshell, the Boatswain’s Mates of the Deck Division of the USS Howard managed to so screw up setting the Jacob’s Ladder for bringing aboard a pilot to enter harbor that they damn near lost him in the drink. Unacceptable.
I’m not a sailor of the US Navy. But from Cub Scouts, through Sea Scouts, the US Army, and my own hobby of climbing and rappelling, I’ve learned to tie a pretty decent knot. Not just enough to bet the pilot’s life on it. I’ll bet my own, and have done so hundreds of times.
I’ll admit, I could never splice worth a damn. The times I tried it, it came out ugly. But I can tie a bowline like nobody’s fool, and half hitches, clove hitches, square knots and timber hitches may be done in my sleep. Heck, with a few minutes refresher, I could relearn to tie another dozen or so knots. But if you know the bowline, half hitch, square knot and clove hitch, you won’t come across to many problems you can’t solve, knot wise.
As a Sergeant, knot tying was one of those quick classes I kept in my hip pocket to teach my squad when previously planned training evolutions fell through. Even in mechanized units, where the likelihood of climbing or rappelling was vanishingly small, a level of knot tying skill was always handy. Heck, just teaching the crew a good way to tie a tarp over the Bradley was worth the effort.
When I was a recruiter, my buddy SGT S and I took his boat out on Lake Michigan one day. On a lark, we decided to visit the local Coast Guard station where an acquaintance of his worked. After a tour of the station, SGT S’s friend convinced the station’s XO to take us out for a brief spin on the 41’ boat “for familiarization training.”
The Coasties were a bit astonished to learn that an Army grunt and an Army mechanic were well versed in how to properly fasten a line from shore onto a cleat. And turned out to be not bad small-boat handlers as well.
As one of the commenters at Lex’s points out:
In the Army, the basics are “Shoot, Move, Communicate.” Let us hope the Army hasn’t strayed as far from its core competencies as some folks in the Navy apparently have.