Monday, February 22, 2010

Sailor, Rest Your Oar

I read in the news that EMC(SS/DV) John Conyers was electrocuted while doing maintenance on USS RONALD REAGAN on Friday.

Actually, I first found out about it from seeing fellow submariners joining the RIP Chief Conyers Facebook page. I didn't know Chief Conyers personally, but looking at the number of fans of the page (500 and growing) and the pictures of him with his family, at his promotion to chief petty officer, on USS BREMERTON, and in various port calls on deployment, it looks like he was a respected shipmate and loving husband and father. My thoughts and prayers go out to EMC Conyers' family and shipmates as they cope with such a tragic loss.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

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I don't know anything about the specifics of what happened on Friday, but it sure gave me flashbacks to one of my worst duty days ever. I was the Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) on USS PROVIDENCE one weekend back around '97. The Ship's Duty Officer (SDO) and I had just sat down to lunch in the wardroom when we heard screaming and a commotion coming from somewhere outside the wardroom.

As I backed my chair away from the table to stand up, one of my electricians came bursting into the wardroom yelling to call an ambulance. I say "my" electricians because I was the Electrical Officer at the time, so it was a guy from my division in addition to being a guy in my duty section.

He had been trying to reinstall a fuse in a fuse panel without tagging out the fuse panel. For non-Navy readers, you are supposed to secure power to a panel and hang a red danger tag on the breaker before you do any work in the panel. In this case, the electrician figured it was okay, he was just going to swing the panel door up and hold it open with one hand while he pushed the fuse into place with a pair of insulated fuse-holders with his other hand.

Well, his first hand slipped and let go of the door to the panel, so the panel door slammed down and pushed his other hand into the live electrical panel. The resulting arc vaporized a quarter-sized hole in the palm of his hand. The good news was that it instantly cauterized the wound, so there was essentially no blood, just a very big and very painful hole through his hand. He was in the Yale Burn Center down in New Haven for a while after that undergoing multiple reconstructive surgeries. When he returned to work it was in medical LIMDU (limited duty) status at one of the shore commands there in Groton. It was a very sad loss for our crew. He was one of our best electricians.

Needless to say, it left a deep mark on my conscience, and I've been pretty anal retentive about electrical safety ever since then.

1 comment:

Tabor said...

I am terrified of electricity...a real girl, I am. I so respect and admire those who work on it.