21 May 2010

Snipes Lament

What is a snipe in the navy?  WikiAnswers defines it as--"Snipe" in the Navy is an enlisted person in an engineering rating, specifically those rates that work below the waterline in Engineering Main Propulsion spaces. They include Machinist's Mates, Boiler Techs and Electrician's Mate. Here is a poem composed by an Anonymous author about snipes:

"Snipes Lament"

Now each of us from time to time, has gazed upon the sea,
and watched the warships pulling out, to keep this country free.
And most of us have read a book, or heard a rusty tale,
about the men who sail these ships, through lightning wind and hail.

But there's a place within each ship, that legend fails to tell.
It's down below the waterline, it takes a living toll---
a hot metal living hell, that sailors call the “Hole.”

It houses engines run by steam, that makes the shafts go round,
a place of fire and noise and heat, that beats your spirits down.
Where boilers are a hellish heart, with blood of angry steam;
these molded gods without remorse, like nightmares in a dream.

Whose threat that from the fires roar, is like a living doubt,
that any minute without scorn, could escape and crush you out.
Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell,
as ordered from above somewhere, they answer every bell.

The men who keep the fires lit, and make the engines run,
are strangers to the world of light, and rarely see the sun.
They have no time for man or god, no tolerance for fear.
Their aspect pays no living thing, the tribute of a tear.

There's not much that men can do, that these men have not done.
Beneath the decks, deep in the hole, to make the engines run.
And every hour of every day, they keep their watch in hell,
for if the fires ever fail, their ships a useless shell.

When ships converge to have a war, upon an angry sea,
the men below just grimly smile at what their fate might be.
They're locked below like men 'fore doomed, who hear no battle cry,
it's well assumed that if they're hit, the men below will die.

For ever day's a war down there, when the gages all read red,
six hundred pounds of heated steam, can kill you mighty dead.
So if you ever write their sons, or try to tell their tale,
the very words should make you hear a fired furnace wail.

And people as a general rule, don't hear of these men of steel,
So little is heard about this place, that sailors call “the hole”.
But I can sing about this place and try to make you see,
the hardened life of men down there, 'cause one of them is me.

I've seen these sweat soaked heros fight, in superheated air
to keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they're there
And thus they'll fight for ages on, 'til steamships sail no more,
amid the boiler's mighty heat, and turbine's hellish roar.

So when you see a ship pull out, to meet a warlike foe,
Remember faintly, if you can, “The men who sail below”

-Author Unknown

The Boiler Technician rating has been dissolved and the Boiler Techs have been absorbed into the Machinist Mate rating.  Times they are a changing (sigh).