Saturday, April 11, 2015



Here is a yarn from my HUMOR IN UNIFORM archives, once more, for you to read, have a laugh and ponder over...

Hilarious Memories of my Navy Days
A Spoof


The Senior Engineer was going crazy.

The Senior Engineer was going crazy because his boss  the Engineer Officer Commander (E)  would not give the Senior Engineer any leave.

“Senior”  as the Senior Engineer Officer was affectionately called  had not gone on leave for even a single day since he joined the ship almost six months ago.

At sea  there was no leave  since the ship was sailing  and the Senior Engineer was indispensable.

In harbour  Commander (E) denied leave to the hapless Senior Engineer on the pretext that there was repair and maintenance to be done.

At sea  while the Senior Engineer slogged below decks in the heat and grime of Engine Room in his overalls  the Commander (E) would sit in spotless whites playing bridge in the wardroom along with the other “unemployed” officers like “Pusser” (the Supply Officer), “Schoolie” (the “Education” Officer) and “Quack” (the Ship’s Doctor).

In harbour  the Commander (E) made Senior’s life hell by making him do all the tough and dirty work on board ship  while Commander (E) spent most of his time ashore networking with senior officers in the Headquarters to build his career and generally having a good time.

Commander (E) was a sadist.

A “pen-pusher” landlubber self-styled Marine Engineer who had spent most his naval career pushing files in Delhi  Commander (E) was always dressed in spotless whites and never wore the customary overalls which Engineers wore on board ships.

He spent most of his time in his cabin and in the wardroom.

Some witty sailors joked that Commander (E) probably did not even know where the engine-room was located.

Commander (E) had come all the way from Delhi just to “earn” his all important “Sea ACR” – the vital performance appraisal report for his “criterion” sea appointment.

The moment one year sea-time was over  Commander (E) would be back at his comfortable desk in Delhi  and thanks to his first-rate Sea ACR  he would be wearing one more stripe on his shoulder.

And from then onwards  it would be smooth sailing  and it was just a matter of time before he became an Admiral.

Yes  once this crucial sea-time was over  he would “manage” everything.

Like all sadists  Commander (E) was a blustering braggart – a gasbag who put on an outward show of brashness  but the reality was that deep inside he was terribly insecure.

Commander (E) was insecure because he was professionally clueless.

In order to cover up his lack of technical knowledge  Commander (E) had made sure he was assigned a good Senior Engineer to do all the dirty work.

Commander (E) knew that all he had to do was to take charge of his of meek Senior Engineer so that everything ran smoothly.

This would ensure that Commander (E) got an excellent ACR which would clear his way for future promotions.

Now suddenly the Senior Engineer wanted a few days leave to go home for an urgent domestic commitment.

And there was this long sailing coming up.

Commander (E) dreaded sailing without the Senior Engineer  lest he be exposed if something went wrong.

In fact  Commander (E) refused to give leave to Senior in harbour too  as Commander (E) was afraid that his technical ignorance would be discovered by the Dockyard Officers.

“30 days leave? On a frontline ship? Are you crazy?” bellowed Commander (E) when he saw Senior’s Leave Application.

“Sir, my sister’s marriage has been fixed. I just got a telegram yesterday.”

“But 30 days?”

“Sir, I have to arrange everything. I am the only brother.”

“Bullshit. A Senior Engineer can’t be absent for a month.”

“Please, Sir. I have to be there for the marriage.”

“Leave the application with me. I’ll see later. And get the ship ready for sailing. What happened to the defects on the boiler?”

“Sir, dockyard is working…”

“You should do it yourself – you bloody shammer.”

“Sir, but …”

“But...? What...? Don’t stand there looking lost like a clueless clot  with your thumb in your bum  and your brain at neutral. Go and get on with your job,” shouted Commander (E).

The hapless Senior Engineer got on to the job – and got the ship ready for sea.

A few days later  after they returned from the sea sortie  the Senior Engineer asked Commander (E) about his leave application.

“All you can think about is your leave. Have you prepared the defect list?” Commander (E) yelled.

“Defect list? Which defect list?” Senior asked.

“The bloody refit defect list.”

“Sir, the refit is 6 months away.”

“So? I want see the defect list first. Only after that will even I look at your leave application.”

“Sir, it will take me at least a week to prepare the defect list.”

“So? Do it.”

“Sir, I have to go on leave right now. My sister’s marriage is next week.”

“What do you mean you ‘have to’ go on leave...? You bloody impertinent bastard. This is the bloody navy. In the Navy  Leave is a Privilege – Leave is not a Right... Do you understand? In any case, there is no chance of any leave for you right now. I have just come to know that there is an important sailing coming up. So just bugger off and get on with your job.”

“Sir, please, sir. Try to understand. How can I be missing from my sister’s wedding?”

“That’s your problem. You should have thought about all that before you joined the navy. That’s the problem with you dope-entry chaps – you buggers are civilians in uniform.”

“Sir, I want to see the Captain.”

“You’ll see my bloody arse. Now get out of here – go to the engine room and get on with your job,” Commander (E) thundered.

Senior Engineer did not go to the Engine Room.

He went straight to the wardroom.

He needed to talk to someone.

He saw “Guns”  the Gunnery Officer  sitting in the Wardroom.

It was only 11 o’clock  but Guns already had a glass in his hand.

On Saturdays  the bar opened at 12  but Guns” had such a formidable fearsome personality  that no steward would dare to refuse him a drink  whatever the time of the day or night.

Just the previous evening  Guns had ordered the ship’s barber to shave off half the moustache of the gangway quartermaster for being slack on duty.

Sailors were petrified of Guns  and even most officers steered clear of him.

As per his usual style  Guns” was drinking rum.

A bottle of rum  an ice box  and a jug of water were placed on the table before him.

“Come, Senior  have a drink,” Guns said.

Senior liked Guns.

Though Guns was quite a fearsome tyrant  he had somehow taken a liking to the rather docile Senior Engineer.

The steward was alert.

When Guns was around  sailors were on their toes).

He knew Senior’s drink.

A glass of beer was placed before Senior.

“Sir  today  I am thinking of having rum,” Senior stammered.

“That’s good – bloody good...! So you are becoming a true-blue sea-dog. Here  take the bottle  and pour some rum into your beer – don’t worry – rum and beer  no fear!” Guns said.

Senior took a big gulp of beer.

Then he topped up the glass with rum.

He swirled the glass to let the beer and rum mix properly  and then he took a huge gulp of the concoction  down the hatch.

Guns looked at Senior curiously  and said, “Come on, Senior  get it off your chest.”

“Sir  Commander (E) is not giving me leave for my sister’s marriage.”

“I know. He was boasting to the XO and telling him how he was screwing the hell out of you. Both of them are bastards. They are hand-in-glove. So you can forget about your leave.”

“Sir  but I have to go for my sister’s marriage.”

“Then skip.”


“Just pack your bags and push off.”

“Sir  you are telling me to break ship  to go AWOL. I will be marked ‘run’ – and then I will be caught and I will be punished.”

“Then take the punishment like a man. You have to decide your priorities for yourself – you decide what is more important for you – attending your sister’s marriage  or cowering before that bloody Commander (E).”

“Sir  I am feeling scared.”

“Don’t worry. Have some more rum – it will give you Dutch-Courage,” Guns said  and he topped up Senior’s glass with neat rum.

Senior took a big gulp of rum. 

He felt better – a bit high – the cobwebs in his head began to clear.

It was almost 12 noon. 

The Wardroom Mess Secretary  the SCO  came in to make arrangements for the Saturday afternoon PLD.

Suddenly  Commander (E) barged into to wardroom.

He was stunned to see his Senior Engineer sitting in the wardroom – drinking away to glory.

“What the hell are you doing here? Just go down to the engine-room right now. That’s a bloody order. And there is no liberty for you till further orders,” Commander (E) shouted at Senior in anger.

“Screw your liberty – I am going on leave,” Senior Engineer slurred drunkenly.

On hearing these defiant words from his normally docile subordinate  for a moment  Commander (E) was dumbstruck.

Then  Commander (E) recovered his wits  and he said to Senior Engineer in a threatening manner, “If you don’t go to the engine-room right now, I will have you arrested and locked up.”

“You go and hop,” Senior said mockingly. 

The alcohol in his veins was making him feel braver and braver.

Seeing the situation going out of control  the SCO quietly left the wardroom.

Things were turning nasty  and the SCO did not want to be a witness to the fracas.

Besides  he had to inform the Captain immediately  because  after all  like all SCOs on ships  he was the Captain’s spy in the wardroom.

By the time the Captain came down to the wardroom  the situation had blown up  and Senior was seen menacingly moving towards Commander (E).

The Senior Engineer was waving the empty bottle of rum dangerously at Commander (E)  and Guns was trying to restrain him.

“Stop it,” the Captain shouted in his commanding voice, “What the hell is going on?”

“Sir  Commander (E) is not giving me leave for my sister’s marriage,” Senior Engineer said, looking at the Captain.

“I know,” the Captain said.

“Sir  that’s not true. I want this insubordinate officer punished,” Commander (E) said to the Captain.

“We will see about that later. First  you tell me why are you not giving your Senior Engineer leave to attend his sister’s marriage?” the Captain asked Commander (E).

“Sir  there is a sailing programme,” Commander (E) said.

“So...? Is he indispensable...? Suppose he drops dead tomorrow  what will you do...? It will take at least a month to get a relief Senior Engineer. Are you telling me that the ship cannot sail if there is no Senior Engineer...? Just tell me  what the hell are you doing on board this ship as Engineer Officer...?” the Captain said sternly to Commander (E).

There was silence in the wardroom.

The Captain looked at Commander (E)  and said, “Now listen carefully, Commander (E). I am approving one leave application today – either Senior’s  or yours. You decide who is more indispensable – you or your Senior Engineer. Either he goes on leave  or you go on leave.”

A few hours later  Senior Engineer was seen crossing the ship’s gangway, with a bag on his shoulder  on his way home on a month’s leave to attend his sister’s marriage.

The technical incompetence of Commander (E) was thoroughly exposed during the sailing. 

In fact  the ERAs created false alarms from time to time  and made sure that Commander (E) was in a tizzy.

In due course  the and engine room sailors had really put Commander (E) in a spin. 

The engine-room sailors liked Senior Engineer  and wanted to teach Commander (E) a lesson for treating Senior so shabbily.

For the entire sailing  by creating one “defect” after another  the engine-room sailors kept Commander (E) in a state of confusion, anxiety and panic  resulting in the clueless Commander (E) being frequently summoned to the bridge by the Captain who bullshitted the hell out of the Commander (E).

When Senior Engineer returned from leave  the Captain summoned him to his cabin.

“We had a lot of problems during the last sailing,” the Captain said.

“I know, Sir. The ERAs told me. But Sir  you don’t worry. I will get everything shipshape,” Senior said.

“That’s good,” the Captain said.

“May I go, Sir?” Senior asked permission to leave.

The Captain looked at Senior Engineer  and said, “There is one more thing. Your Commander (E) has had a very rough time and he needs some rest. I am thinking of sending Commander (E) on long leave. Can you manage on your own?”

“Of course, Sir – nobody is indispensable,” Senior Engineer said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Yes. Nobody is indispensable,” the Captain laughed.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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