Eternal Resting Places

by Mike Hemming

I was thinking on what happens to our boats. A few are sunk as targets or given away to be fishing reefs, but most are scrapped. A shipmate was saying goodbye to a boat in Bremerton waiting to be scrapped. It was his home for 6 years. In my case, Carp 338 was mine for 4 years, longer than some guys spend in the navy. She and I went through 3 skippers and 2 COBs and how many shipmates? 300 or so in those years. Most I liked, some I loved, 1 I hated, but I’ll not think about him. He was not worthy to call himself a Carp sailor. Four years of hot-cold, smooth-rough, dull-scary, boring-quiet, far from land inside her... In other words, shipboard life. Sure, it’s the shipmates that make the boat mostly, but as men come and go, it’s the vessel that gets the love too.

Any boat that takes you out and brings you back is a good one, some brought us back from places and events that a lessor boat would have failed to. We trained each other and took care of them so they would take care of us.

So in the end, the 1300 or so men that rode 338 go their separate ways, and she goes to the scrapper for a lousy $98,000. A spit in the coffers of the navy budget, for a fine Lady, an ignoble end. The rest of forever as a Buick bumper or some rebar in a glitzy building.

My other boat Requin 481, I qualled on her, rode her for 10 months, I became more of a man than the twerp 18 year old that first went aboard, ended up as a museum boat in Pittsburgh. That’s great for now but someday when its no longer economical or PC or what ever to keep her, she will go to a scrap yard somewhere. No one will push or spend the money to send her where they all belong, in the sea with her sisters. Resting there as one of her new sisters passes overhead to protect our grand children and their children. A finally silent hull resting quietly to honor those that never made it home, with all those forever young aboard.