Wednesday, March 10, 2010

These are what we call 'collateral' duties...

Here at the dockyard, we have four or five huge crates filled with seemingly random pots and pans, iron pieces, hooks, chains, whips - no those are on my bench - and assorted other hillbilly cooking apparatus. I've tried to explain to volunteers that those are for field messes - to feed the sailors and marines (who up to this point are largely fictional to most volunteers) at events. At the Dockyard, we are not only responsible for the boats and new construction projects but also tents, cooking gear, and any other equipment that doesnt fall into uniforms or weapons - though we also manage guns (shipboard cannon) as well. So for those of you who've been asking why we have tent stakes, timber axes, grappelling hooks, canteens, haversacks, bolts of "non-sail" canvas and racks of colored tent poles, that's why.

Yesterday I began breaking out stores enough to supply the marines at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse coming up this weekend. And as the crates of mess gear started coming open more than a few people asked "how do you expect those guys to eat out of those things?" Good question.

When the pots, most of which are made of tin, were stored last, their coating of tallow was not sufficiently applied. When properly cleaned, coated and crated, they will last for months without maintenance. However, these had not been coated, and had been badly cleaned. I've never had to scrub scale out of pots - until last night. Be assured I will be checking all returned inventory before it comes in - I'm not doing this again.

This is also most people's first exposure to the field issue system of organizational property management, aka the supply system. Everything that NHS owns is carefully documented and tracked. I am proud to say that we can track any item we own, find out where it is and whose responsibility it is to keep it. If it gets lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed it gets documented. Its a remarkably efficient but time consumingly meticulous system. And now you volunteers know the importance of the Superintendant's Ledger on my bench - where we record what comes and goes from the Dockyard.

Registration for marines is currently closed for the Battle of Guilford Courthouse 2010 - the ranks are full and we have no more gear to issue. Sailors, your time will come - besides, there isn't a boat for miles where we're going. But I encourage as many as want to make the trek to come out and see us. It should be a great time.

And all the while, work goes on in the Dockyard. More on that tommorrow.


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