View Full Version : Putting a Military Ship in Commission?

09-23-2009, 02:25 AM
Greetings :-),

Anyone out there with experience in, or able to recommend any good references for the process of putting an initial crew on a new build naval vessel? A mid-sized or small vessel would be good, a submarine ideal but any experience or info would be helpful. I'm working on a scenario where an initial crew is formed around a new-build starship, to take her out on trials and put her in commission.

Obviously, there would be things that wouldn't be appropriate to discuss, particularly with a submarine, but I'm not writing a documentary here. The info need not even be about current ship types (though I think going back much farther thatn WWII would bring diminishing returns). I'm just looking for some insight into how to shape the process and the kinds of little things that RL experience can bring to the party for a realistic and interesting feel. For example, in the very interesting book "Blind Man's Bluff" (http://www.amazon.com/Blind-Mans-Bluff-Submarine-Espionage/dp/006097771X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253657283&sr=1-1), I learned of a process called 'angles and dangles', where a submarine basically does the underwater equivilent of aerobatics to shake things up and see how they hold together. I expect to have a bit of fun with that, among other inspirations from that book. It's not the sort of thing I, lifelong landlubber that I am, would have thought of though.

Thanks :-)

09-23-2009, 02:47 AM
Two books I'd recommend is RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP by Edward Beach who writes about a WWII submarine and was a Captain in the US Navy and CRUEL SEA by Nicholas Monsarrat who was a Lt. in the British Navy in WWII and wrote about corvettes. Both books contain a lot of information involved in commissioning a ship.

Original crew in the US Navy are called "plank owners" and receive something (usually wood) to celebrate the fact. Often if the ship has a tie to a state, there is a connection. For example, for the USS Kearsarge, the crew received a wooden plank cut from a tree cut down on Mount Kearsarge.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

09-23-2009, 06:48 PM
Commissioning date and sea trial and many months apart. Ships are commissioned shortly after their hull is completed and they can float. The Navy takes possession of the ship. It isn't until many months later that the ship is ready for sea. Then the sea trials are conducted. All during this time, yard birds are crawling all over the ship, stringing cables, welding, installing electronic equipment, painting, stenciling, laying floor tile, you name it. Late in this process, the crew moves aboard. Prior to that, they live on base.
Once the ship is ready for sea trials, they take it out for a series of test runs, and emergency drills where they disable something and see how the ship is able to recover.
They do speed runs, endurance runs, high speed turns, emergency stops, all the maneuvers you can imagine. Every piece of equipment is tried out, tested, disabled, enabled, re-enabled and run again.
Once the big checklist is completed, the ship is accepted, and becomes the Navy's responsibility.
The ship I was on was found to be 300 tons top-heavy, a very unstable condition for a 7,000 ton ship. We returned to the shipyard, and the yard birds loaded 300 tons of pig-iron ingots into the bilges, to balance us out.

09-27-2009, 07:08 AM
The beginning of the movie "In Which We Serve" may be of some help.