Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I'm coming to appreciate the importance of checklists...I mean truly appreciate them. We got recalled on Friday morning, and were underway in just over 2 hours. We gotta work on that time and get it a little faster, but even as the person initiating the recall, I didn't have all my stuff together. I forgot my watch, my knife and my cell phone chargers, all three pretty aggravating things not to have with me.

And never mind all the crap I forgot to do at the house. At least I fortuitously remembered to take out the trash. But, did I shut the windows? I hope so, 'cause the Big Island got some heavy storms since we've been gone. And all the stuff I forgot in the fridge? Don't know how those starfruit are going to look after sitting around for another 10 days.

I'm thinking I should have a recall checklist for myself to make sure I get done everything I need to before heading out for an undetermined amount of time. Then I think that might be going a little too far, even for me.

The cutters I've been on have had checklists for everything...entering port, leaving port, emergency scenarios, routine situations, oddball occurrences. The Command Center had Quick Response Cards, a fancy name for checklists. We live and breath checklists.

The benefit of using a checklist was hammered home on Monday morning when we tried to get underway. We were diligently using our "Getting Underway" Checklist...time tick, away all trash, removing chafing gear, testing the capstan, manning all stations, and all. We were getting down to the end of the list, having taken the slack out of all lines, and were set up for conducting shaft tests.

I learned a helpful little habit when I was temporarily on AQUIDNECK this past spring. When conducting shaft tests, the Conning Officer would have his thumb on the stop button for the engine, so that just in case something went wrong, he could quickly punch out the main (main = main diesel engine = MDE). Don't know exactly why I thought that was so cool, but I adopted the habit.

Anyway, I was driving out that morning, and was ready to do shaft tests. The Bridge had piped, "Stand clear of all mooring lines while the OOD rocks the shafts." Everybody, including the line handlers on the pier, had cleared away from the lines. So I clutched ahead on port, counted one-one thousand, two-one thousand after the neutral light went out, and got a small shot ahead on the port MDE. Port ahead sat. Port astern, one-one thousand, two-one thousand, declutch, small shot...that didn't stop. I kept going in reverse. Uuuhh, crap. Holy crap!

But my thumb was on the stop button and I punched out the main quickly enough to not do any permanent damage to our lines, deck fittings, or fittings on the pier, though the lines creaked pretty ominously. MKC did tell me he thought it was operator error initially...that I was just going a little heavy on the shots. He figured it out after the second time.

It was a pretty exciting couple of minutes. We tried restarting the engine again, and as soon as it was energized, it clutched in astern. When 110s clutch in, it's no joke either. They clutch in with enough power to go 9 knots.

Well, the engineers (or my new name for them...Ninjaneers -- Anne, that one's for you) troubleshot, and found some loose wires in the throttle system. They fixed it all up, we conducted shaft test a little nervously but fully satisfactorily, and safely got underway.

And I got a good reminder of why we follow checklists and do all the important little safety things that we do.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Gotta love checklists. The famous trick with them though is to actually DO the action not just say it and then forget to actually do it. Been there and (not) done that. Very embarassing. Glad you had your thumb on the button. Sounds like a good technique.