A Full Power Run

by Mike Hemming

We all remember these... We were actually supposed to do them every so often. The good skippers combined them with a run home if possible or just did them anyway. 'Goin' Home Turns' we called them. When everything was right, it was great.

This is about one of those times... A long time spent one Springboard that became too long for all of us. The skipper, Charley Baldwin knew it because, he wanted to get back too. One of the better captains of my career, he had a way of letting the engineer know that he wanted max effort from the snipes and their gear when it was time to go. I think it was the way he said,

"I'd like to go back standard on four..."

Meaning I will ring up Standard on four and anything more you can get out of them will make me a happy skipper. This time it was said 2 days before we left Port Canaveral for NorVa. Giving us 2 days warning mean't that this was serious, the engineer asked us what we wanted. Thinking a few moments, I said in the AER we would change a few injectors, check and gap a few sets of valves, change all fuel filters, and we were good. Planning ahead for some serious fuel consumption, I asked the oil king where his cleanest fuel was. He said,

"Probably #6 NFO."

I asked and got permission to switch to that tank so we wouldn't be having to clean the purifiers as often. At full or more loads, they have to run almost continuously, and why take a chance on slowing down if a purifier was slow in being cleaned.

The morning we left was beautiful and Carp was ready to run. Out of the harbor and at sea 'standard on four' was rung up and away we went. I was standing in maneuvering when it was rung up and the electricians put on the necessary turns and then added some more... Then a couple more, just in case the tachometer was a little off... Just in case, it's better to err on the high side, I guess. It was not then that the real tweaking for speed came, it was at the beginning of each watch. The oncoming controllerman would bump the rheostat just a couple more turns. Just to "balance" them out.

The aux gang played their part requesting to run the low-pressure blower as often as possible, keeping the ballast tanks nice and dry. Plus those bubbles made the hull slick and we gained a touch there too.

By the end of the 3rd watch, Carp was really rolling, faster than she had ever gone except when brand new from the builder's yards. 21 knots was being flirted with. Those Jimmy's were singing their noisy tune, with just a little smoke to show they were working.

The Old Man had left orders that speeding up was better than slowing down to avoid another ship. When a ship was deemed to have too close of a CPA, the OOD rang up 'All Ahead Full'. The controllerman, thinking that an honest bell was needed, backed off the turns to the requested bell and Carp slowed down about half a knot.

After some minor "who struck John," the turns were eagerly replaced. Flooded down aft and blown dry forward, we were hauling. If flank is at 110 %, those last 8 hours were some kind of super flank bell, figuring out to almost 120%. With them, Carp was traveling at over 21 knots, adding in the Gulf Stream and we were flying.

This was my dream... A book I read in high school was called 'Speed'. In it were stories of different machines and making them go fast. One chapter was about the Archerfish chasing the Shinano. Greasy snipes making their boat go fast... I loved it.

No sinking a ship for us at the end of our run, just home. Almost a 1,000 miles transit covered in 48 hours. From #1 line off to #1 line on. Those old Jimmys may have leaked oil everywhere but they sure could put the power to the cubicle when asked. Only thing necessary at the end was an extra 5 minutes cool down.

We finished with a smile and a "Way to go guys" from the Old Man. It beat the hell out of any ribbon or piece of chest candy they give out too easily these days.

It was sweet.