Monday, June 22, 2009

The Infestation



Call the police! Call the FBI! Call the Smithsonian! Call the Chop!

One of the most vile, treacherous, and resilient beasts on the face of the planet has crossed the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to infest North America!

I have proof! I got a picture of one today! It nearly cost me my life, but I felt compelled to capture this image to warn others.

I WARN YOU!!! Scroll to down at your own peril! The image below will incite terror and leave you with nightmares of this terrible beast!

I'm warning you! Are you prepared to face the peril?

This is your last chance to turn back! Save yourself!!! Run for the hills!!!


Wait... First, let me back up and explain:

After you've been to sea on submarines for a while, you learn a few pretty reliable patterns. For example, the gradual decrease in the number of toppings available for your salad at lunch and the eventual absence of any sort of fresh fruits or vegetables. Then the milk runs out and we shift to UHT (ultra-high temp boxed milk - better than the old powdered milk, but still not that great). Then the eggs run out.

On the plus side, any flies or bugs that got underway with you normally die off within the first week underway. I don't think they can take the pressure transients from snorkeling and taking a pressure in the ship, etc.

In those rare cases when you see a bug of some sort and you've been at sea for more than a couple of weeks, then you KNOW there's a problem. That means there were eggs or a nest somewhere and they're hatching and making more bugs, and it requires some aggressive searching through the food stores to find and eliminate the source.

Okay, so there I was...

On deployment somewhere off the coast of Africa.

We'd been at sea for a couple of weeks, and these little fruit flies started showing up all over the ship. The highest concentration seemed to be around the crew's mess and the wardroom, but they made their way throughout the ship. I was killing half a dozen per day up in my stateroom, and twice as many around meal times in the wardroom.

I kept telling the Chop (slang for Supply Officer), "Chop... we. have. a. problem. There is a NEST somewhere on board where those stinkin' fruit flies are multiplying."

To Chop and the CSC's credit (CSC = Culinary Specialist Chief - the head cook / food service manager), they did empty out each of the places we store food and searched for the source of the flies at least twice, but then they gave up searching. The Chief SWORE up and down that these were some sort of African fly that was coming in through the snorkel mast when we ventilated.

Um... Chief?

How many miles from shore are we???

Have you noticed the quantity of fruit flies on the boat???

Have you noticed how fragile these flies are? I barely tap them and they squash into dust, so how the heck would they make it past the main induction fans (and in such high quantity)? In order for ONE of these flies to survive the treacherous path into the ship, the OOD wouldn't be able to SEE through the periscope due to the SWARMS of gajillions of African fruit flies buzzing around the surface of the ocean. Plus, they've all gotta have some hefty endurance to fly THIS far out to sea with nowhere to land for a break.

Those darn flies were driving me nuts, but we couldn't find the source.

Then, one day... someone noticed there was a line of dead fruit flies along the bottom edge of the left hand door to the chill box in crew's mess.

If you left the door to the chill box open for a little while, you'd see fruit flies start to crawl out from under the bottom of the chill box. Doc pried up the sheet metal bottom of the chill box and found THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of fruit flies that had built a nest in the foam insulation underneath the chill box. So every time someone opened the chill box, a bunch started crawling out and flying away. When they subsequently shut the door to the chill box, it killed all the fruit flies that were crawling out from under the sheet metal, hence why it left a line of squashed-dead fruit flies along the bottom edge of the chill box door.

Okay, okay, so it wasn't a very exciting a sea story.

I have noticed that these little buggers have infested the locker room at the PAC Annex (Pentagon Athletic Center) in Crystal City. They're most notable on Monday mornings after they've had a weekend to populate the locker room and before the weekday cleaning crews have a chance to come clear them out.

Ya know, the image above probably didn't adequately capture the gargantuan enormity of this vile creature.

Here, let me put something else in the picture to give you a relative feel for the size of it...

Behold the monster!


Anonymous said...

*shudder* Fruit flies are pure nastiness and can multiply like there's no tomorrow. I abhor them in my house when some make their way in from the commissary...cannot imagine on a boat!

reddog said...

Oh shades of sea cooks and frozen strawberries!

Do you have a couple of steel ball bearings you click together in your hand when things get tense?