Originally Posted by Walt34
Or toilet paper. Remember that one?
After every tsunami or hurricane siren.
That reminds me of a sea story. I'll tell it here and blog about it another day.
When a ballistic missile submarine goes to sea to remain underwater & undetected for 90 days, they mean it. You can't just pop up offshore from the Ocean City 7-11, send in a Zodiac, and buy a few rolls of toilet paper to tide you over. Some truly paranoid submariners (with sea stories of their own) would even devote a few precious cubic inches of personal storage space to an "emergency use only" roll. Of course there's always an entrepreneur or two stockpiling a small supply of their own, hoping for the right time that roll could be parceled out to shipmates a few sheets at a time...for a "fair" price.
However a boomer typically has a crew of at least 130 who, for the next 90 days, will see food as one of their primary sources of entertainment. When standing underway watches, submarines serve food every six hours 24/7. The math piles up (so to speak) awfully fast.
It usually means that a few days before underway, the squadron supply department delivers 4-5 pallets of the stuff pierside for an all-hands working party to store below. You'd be amazed at how few of that 130 crew are actually available to form a daisy chain down the hatch to hand-load the bundles of toilet paper.
Another issue is storage space. For reasons I'd rather not discuss how we learned, you can't store toilet paper anywhere that it might get wet, soak up irritating/noxious substances, catch fire, or even smolder. On a submarine you run out of those sorts of storage spaces pretty quickly, and everyone else has some whiny little reason why their nuclear gear or medical supplies have to go there instead. Nobody wants to store toilet paper.
On a submarine, junior sailors clean the heads. Junior sailors usually belong to Deck Division, and Deck Div belongs to the Weapons Officer. So instead of being able to use the Supply Officer's dry/locked storage spaces, the Weps has to devote the department's valuable volume reserved for explosives, pyrotechnics, & ammo to... potty paper.
On my first submarine, I came topside one afternoon to find LT "Mad Dog" Cole fuming on the pier. This wasn't unusual because he smoked like a chimney. On this occasion, though, he was fuming at five pallets of toilet paper that squadron had just dropped off. I started to empathize with him, because he was a valuable source of signatures for my Officer of the Deck qualification card.
"Toilet paper again, huh, Weps?"
"No, this time it's much worse than that."
"Well, I ordered six pallets but squadron says that this is the last toilet paper they're going to be able to give us. This has to last for the rest of our time inport and for our entire patrol, too. The whole base is out of toilet paper and they won't restock until a week after we're gone. I can't even get enough for the patrol now, let alone top us off before we leave. I've been telling Deck Div to hurry up here and get this stuff stowed before it disappears!!"
At this point he yelled over at the topside sentry to tell Deck Div to muster topside ASAP while he went off to try to find more toilet paper. The topside sentry had been paying very close attention to our conversation, and he got busy on the topside phone circuit.
15 minutes later I dropped by the pierside officer's club for lunch and noticed Mad Dog relaxed in the corner with a big smile on his face. He asked me if the sentry had been working on getting Deck Div topside, and I reassured him that they'd be on it soon. He laughed, and I commented that he sure didn't seem very worried about the situation.
He recalibrated me: "Oh, there's plenty of toilet paper on the base, but nobody wants to help me load it and I can never find enough places to store it. We have plenty onboard already and I only needed a few more pallets to top off, but I thought I'd try a little reverse psychology this time. I sent all of Deck Div over to squadron supply earlier so that they wouldn't be around to load it, and it's just sitting there on the pier unguarded. I bet it's all gone by the time we finish lunch!"
Sure enough, an hour later there were only five empty pallets on the pier. Deck Div was mystified, and nobody could tell them what had happened to their stores load.
The Weps managed to keep his mouth shut, and Deck Div wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I had a hard time keeping the smirk off my face when I heard the rumors about the TP shortage, and after a while I realized that the CO & XO were also struggling to maintain their poker faces. It took about half the patrol for the crew to compare notes and realize that somehow nearly everyone had ended up carrying at least six "emergency" rolls in their rack storage pans. For the next six weeks, rolls of toilet paper kept appearing in the head like magic-- all of them crushed beyond recognition, but still usable. Deck Div not only got out of a stores load, but they never even had to restock the stalls.
Next year I finished my sea duty and rolled ashore. A few years later I went back to sea on my second submarine, and this time I
was the Weps. Lo & behold, the toilet paper problem had not been solved during my shore duty-- at least not by the crew. When the supply truck dumped their load (so to speak) on the pier for our deployment, our new Deck Div petty officer immediately began fretting over his storage problem. "No worries", I told him, and I started channeling Mad Dog's Oscar-winning performance for a new (eavesdropping) topside audience. Then I sent the petty officer and his Deck Div over to squadron supply for more paint, and I sent myself to lunch.
An hour later it was all gone. A couple of junior officers, with OOD qualification challenges of their own, even offered to share a few rolls with me if I'd enlighten them on various aspects of the weapons systems signatures on their qual cards.
I mentioned it to the CO that afternoon. The next morning the XO, a former Weps, did us proud. At quarters on the pier, he encouraged the crew to conserve toilet paper due to the base-wide shortage. It worked so well that three months later we were pulling into our liberty port before the troops began returning their personal stashes.