Google analytics

Saturday 30 June 2012

The smoking war at sea.

This is the era when the badly researched science of second hand smoking was just starting to waft it’s ugly aroma.

Here we are off the coast of Iraq in early 2001

There I was onboard a massive grey painted ship just over the horizon from an enemy shore. The vessel in question is the Navy’s helicopter training ship and is sailing in her secondary function as “casualty receiving ship”. Not to be confused with a hospital ship. The reason being is that the vessel is fitted with a variety of armaments.

Hostilities have commenced and my Action Station post was I/C (In Command) of HQ1 (Command post for Fire fighting, damage repair, & Nuclear, Chemical and Biological threats). Adjoining HQ1 was the machinery control room run by a team of engineer officers and ratings.

Smoking areas on ships were a bit hit and miss at that time. It varied depending on which ship you were on.

I’m quietly sitting in my command seat when over my head set comes the somewhat worrying report from the Bridge that a Russian made anti ship missile search radar was sweeping us, and that the ship was going to turn and head out to sea at maximum speed. (Max speed being  a sprightly seventeen knots and sea skimming missiles have a habit of speeding in in the hundreds of knots).

Well naturally anyone would do what I did. I reached into the top pocket of my action coverall produced a packet of cigarettes and lit up. After a few moments a shout rings out from the adjoining control room, “you can’t smoke here”. My reply. (In wind up mode) “ Fuck off. I’m allowed to have a last cigarette before we all die in a blazing fireball in the next few minutes”. No reply.

Funnily enough no smoking in that space was never mentioned again.

Aside: One of the reasons I retired when I did, was the draconian rules on smoking that came about after 2007 onboard ships.