A Stink of Submarines

by Mike Hemming
 
 

Her publisher told a friend of mine, who writes mystery stories that all of her titles must include the word 'ghost' in the future. As she had tentatively titled her latest work 'A _______ of Ghosts', she needed a word for a group of ghosts. She started looking and couldn't find such a word. You know like a 'gaggle of geese', a 'mob of crows' or a 'pod of whales', this got me to wondering if there was such a word that is used for a group of submarines or submarine sailors.

A quick look in the dictionary showed no such word or words. Further exhaustive research consisting of several minutes surfing the web site WebstersDirtyWords.Com shed no further light on this subject. At which point my fertile and slightly warped brain lurched into high gear and said that I would create such a list of words. The following list may be changed, added to or ignored by anyone who cares to, but its creator will not be subject to any slings and arrows cast by anyone who didn't think of it first.

The first, a 'stink of submarines' is the one that came to mind right away and hangs in there over all other attempts. Others like a 'downangle of planesmen' quickly gives way to the more poetic a 'plunge of planesmen'. Which frees the word for a 'downangle of diving officers', a much better choice than the original, a 'lost bubble of diving officers'. But a 'grouch of COBs' won't be argued over. Neither will a 'useless of nonquals', a 'peel of messcooks', a 'target of tankers', a 'crash of aviators' or a 'stare of lookouts'. However a 'lost of quartermasters', an 'arc of senior controllerman', a 'smoke of engineman', a 'privilege of stewards mates' or a 'swish of sonarmen' may cause some argument from the wounded parties. So be it, I think a 'ping of sonarmen' sounds better anyway.

To counteract the whining caused by a 'glow of nukes', which should be saved for the Russkys, I give you a 'nostalgia of DBFers'. Some others that are non controversial are a 'freeze of topside watches',an 'eternity of equalizer charges' and a 'wander of below decks watches'. Others could be a 'snakewake of helmsman', a 'crowd of conning officers', a 'swimout of torpedeomen' and a 'short of electricans'. From nuke boats would come a 'launch of missile techs', a 'scram of nukes', a 'familygram of divorcees', a 'speed of fast attacks' and a 'quiet of boomers'. On either type, a 'burn and serve of cooks', a 'salty of ensigns', a 'toady of XOs', a 'radiation of radarmen', and a 'dance of deck apes' would serve the purpose.

From the goat locker would come a 'sleep of chiefs', a 'belly of E7s' or maybe better a 'coffee of chiefs'.

From the wardroom would be the ones already mentioned plus a 'grease of engineers', a 'salad of commissary officers', or a 'bean' of them, an 'importance of captains', a 'nuisance of admirals' and an 'antacid of Lt. JGs'. Of course these days with the new navy's top heavy rank structure you could say an 'abundance of admirals', a 'covey of captains', but the last has been used to describe a bunch of birds. Hmmmmm, nah too easy a target. If you had midshipmen aboard would it be a 'degradation of dolphins'? From my line of work we would use a 'sweat of still operators', a 'bilge of oilers', a 'comshaw of spare parts PO's' and a 'contortion of engine overhaulers'. From the shipyard we would get an 'idiocy of designers', a 'sloth of yardbirds' and a 'complain of unions'.

On the upside we would have to use a 'remembrance of lost boats', a 'hero of combat veterans' and a 'proud of silver (or gold) dolphins'.

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