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Mess Crank...aka Kp Duty.

Discussion in 'Military Life' started by Wagon, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. We had this tradition or institution in the Navy called Mess Cranking. Generally abt one month after reporting on board a ship, most rate's E3 and below must serve 90 days in the galley. Basically it's a way to get people to do the absolute shit part of feeding 1000 men 4 times a day. As with most commercial kitchens it's normally undermanned and under-equipped.

    For many people on the ship it was baptism. You learned allot in the galley. How to drink being one of them. 75% percent of a mess cranks tour is spent drunk. Hell. allot of the old cooks are drunks. That or they're absolute dictators. Many times both.

    You also learn how to slack and have no respect for anything. In the Navy we called duty dodging or slaking off "skating". The galley was the proving ground for professional skaters. 50 mess cranks, most of them hung over from the night before, Breakfast looks like a zombie party. More than half will at one point suddenly disappear and return 1 to 2 hours later with no recollection of where they have been or why they were not working. It's a code "I'm a mess crank and my reply to any situation is complete lack of enthusiasm or absolute ignorance". You really have to try to have an attitude like this.

    Mess Cranks were also cut breaks on the ship. Most officers ignored you and avoided any personal contact. Even the Supply Officers tried to stay away. You're uniforms were ignored. As that you were given a very cheap T shirt and rubber boots to wear, nobody really cared as long as you wore pants. Everything you wore into the galley anyway was ruined by the endless stream of grease, fake cheese and stale bread. You become almost invisible as a mess crank. People will look at you and say to a friend, "just a crank, never mind him" The only time "normal" people on the ship acknowledged a crank was when they unexpectedly found one sleeping in their work space. "Hey Crank! What the f*ck are you doing here?" and then the crank would wander sleepily back to the galley, happy he had caught a few minutes of sleep.

    Somehow that mess worked on every ship. And after your 90 days you were given a very pointed message. "You're not a fucking crank anymore, get your uniform in shape and get to work and don't show up drunk." And that was that. It certainly showed you how bad things could get on a ship.....and how much you could drink and still work.
    tho9900 likes this.
  2. Luckily I never had to crank on a ship. My first duty station was shore duty at Pt Mugu, Ca. I did have to crank for 90 days though. It was on San Nickolas Island off the coast of Los Angeles. It was pretty skate duty. It was long days, but there weren't that many people who ate at the galley on a daily basis. I worked for 4 days, had 3 days off. It was a pain in the butt to get on or off the island. I had to fly on an old WWII era propeller passenger plane. which took up most of the day so I really only had one day off if I went to the mainland on my weekend. I felt lucky to get that duty, as I really liked the island. I would take a big flatbed truck and drive around scouting out the island on my time off. There was only one area that was restricted, that I couldn't go near. There were seals, and elephant seals on the island I could watch, caves I could explore, and of course the island had many coves and beaches.

    The island was a test range for missiles, among other things, so occasionally we were restricted to the compound when they did a missile test. That was always a bit stressful. They were big missiles they would fly into a concrete target. The whole island would shake. In the back of my mind I would always wonder... missile test... unproven tech.... hope it hits the target and doesn't end up in the compound.
  3. I was only on board ship a few times for float missions and war games. I found the food to be superior to the chow we got back at out base. Guess that says something about the Corps. :D
  4. In the corps (during my time), there was something similar. If you were e-3 or below, the command was required to send whatever the quota of marines to to some kind of shit work for a 90 day period. Mess duty was always top of the list. The hours were ungodly early, and just as you said, most were drunk or hungover (sometimes both). No one paid much attention to them. The lucky ones of the bunch got assigned to lawn work, cutting grass and painting endless coats of paint over railings or flag poles. Since only the lower ranks got tasked with it, often times it was the brand new marines that just got to the fleet. Kind of mind f*ck really, cause just when you think "finally I made it to the fleet, after boot camp, SOI, whatever your MOS,s THOUGHT you were finally going to see life improve!!)

    I was very luck in that either I was assigned to a unit where our job was needed more than shit work, or that there was simply a shortage of us and we couldent even spare one body. Mess duty sucked balls, I didn't have to experience it to know it sucked real bad!
  5. I was at Pendleton for a while and e-3 and below got mess duty for 30 days and it was rotated. We did of course have our share of busy work like painting rocks. Yes painting rocks. Also, one of my favorites, raking lines in dirt. Gotta have that consistency in the world. :rolleyes:

    Being grunts we mostly just humped the hills and did pt. AH! the good life.
  6. sad thing is us docs were drunk or hung over 75% of the time too until we got sent to a specialty school... started 8404, FMF school.. omg did that put some discipline (and a hella lot of pride) in us... then I went 8541 Respiratory Technician... that point got my game plan going...

    lol I remember my birthday fell at the end of RT school, my bud Tom (same name as me) and I ironically had the same Bday and we turned 21 together... next day was clinicals in the Burn Unit... 99 degrees 24/7... and smelled like hell.. they told us both go study in the lounge... thank you oh most understanding instructors!!!!
  7. Half way through my mess duty/lawncare/paint rocks 90 day routine where the cpl. in charge of assignments would put you on a detail. Some guys were marked and stayed on mess call. Anyway, I got orders to go early to jump school as an opening came up. I was very very happy to go. But I do miss eating fresh made doughnuts and coffee on the dock behind the mess hall at 1 am. Ahhh....some of those good memories are laced with shitty memories as well.
    I remember being awake for 2 days and nights in my c school and being given permission to sack out during day hrs to recover as I had duty that night. And some butter bar know it all come in to the barracks and turned over my cot shouting how noone in his corps sleeps during the day. And they wondered why more 2nd lts didnt die. Sigh.
  8. Mess cranking was pretty fun at times. If you didn't mind the beatings. I had a buddy who was the same as me. Yell at him, he'd smile. Punish him, he'd laugh. We all got hell, but him and I were marked "special" after awhile.

    I remember the fatal words. "Fine! Stick my ass in the deep sink, I don't give a f*ck!" So it was me and Bobby for 45 days washing pots and pans. Lasagna night was shear hell. They called it deep sink diving. You were wet all the time and it was hot. I got trench foot at one point.

    We had decent watch Captains in the galley. One would beat us with a giant ladle in the Watch Captains Office. Another time I walked in to fund my man Bobby being led back to the deep sink with his neck in a giant pipe wrench screwed down tight. Also had this Watch Captain named Combs with arms as big as my thighs. Once saw him toss a cook (not a crank) into a giant pot and turn the water on and just walk away.

    After 45 days in the deep sink with Bobby, it all fell apart. Bobby ended up in sick bay with burns and I got sent to the Chief's mess for my last three days. Pure heaven that was.(real store bought food, no bullshit, the cook helped you do things. Wow) Bobby got burned because I did it. After the 5th time he had soaked me with the garden hose I splashed some of that 200 degree sanitizing water on him. If we had known that little incident was going to get us out of the deep sink, we would have done it long before.

    Ahh 18. Pushing 30 years ago now.
  9. Tho, You reminded me. The cranks made up for half of sick call. It was part of the whole skating tradition. We would plan visits and make up fictitious maladies. I got to know allot of the Corpsman that way. But never managed to get the magic "No Galley Duty" Chit. It ate up a couple hours though and it was legal and sometimes you could catch a nap. Golden! And the Corpsman on my first ship were pretty cool. Even gave us a motrin every once in awhile.
  10. A lot of times we would give someone down in the galley we liked the chance at a rack pass for 24h in exchange for "x".... usually the actual cooks didn't mind hooking us up thru the crank cuz they enjoyed a day off out of that hot ass galley now and then too... and knew it would pretty much guarantee it for them... The ship was the biggest black market there was..

    And the only time the cranks were outnumbered was right before the MC PT test... put those guys out in the field they would take motrin for a spiral fracture of C-4 to C-6 till Doc forced em out 6 weeks later.... shipboard that line went around the ship 3 times right before a test... everything from sprained ankles, atheletes foot etc.. lots of asthma too... we doubled up in sick call with the blue side docs when that time came around... they woulda never got chow otherwise lol..

    Oh... and you always had to give the SK in the gedunk whatever he wanted (within reason)... cuz you could tell him hold back an extra carton of Marlboro's and he would be sure to oblige... in exchange for a day off lol...
  11. I heard rumors of good chow on ships. Only experienced it once....on a submarine. Each "boat" bought it's own shit, many times outside of the Navy supply system. The Submarine Tender was pretty good on food. I mean, we're not talking home cooking or even up to Olive Garden standards, but it was edible and at times likeable.

    The Battleship was just a disaster. Real crap. I don't think they even tried. That or half the food budget went to the engineering department as well. Somehow our Captain had the power of god over our budget, even if the money was earmarked as "X". The fucker would redirect funds to "Y". We also had a finance expert as an XO I recall. That worked real well. Ex engineer football coach as a Captain and a bean counter for an XO.

    After food poisoning incident number 2, A bunch of us were sworn off food in the galley. It was Top Rammen from the ships store, canned veg from the rotting vegetable bar, apples and peanut butter for 6 months after that.

    You also had to judge the mood of the cranks. I remember when I was cranking, someone comes up to me and says, "don't touch the bug juice, Seims is angry" he worked in the scullery and also made the bug juice. For the entire lunch period he stood next to the bug juice thingy and smiled at everyone who drank it. Bastard had pissed in it. I never drank bug juice again. Hell hath no fury like an angry crank. They have nothing to lose.

    Bug Juice = Red/Yellow/Green dye number 10. Sugar. Water. and Flavoring that in no way resembles any fruit known to man. AND sometimes urine.

    It does wonders for silver and brass polishing though.
    tho9900 likes this.

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