Headed up the Mississippi River the other day we were just getting ready to pass a ship that was moored at one of the coal piers that line the river. The ship’s self-unloading boom was extended out over the river and both I and the pilot onboard agreed that passing under the boom would be a poor navigational choice.
|The ship in question|
“It’s a coal fired steam ship. Should the Zombie Apocalypse ever happen they can run the ship with their cargo for like 10 years”, remarked the pilot, “It also has a steam line running from the engine room up to the bridge. The captain has an old-time hot dog steamer up there. He loves hot dogs. In fact, you can’t do a trip onboard without being offered one. Or two. Or ten. They even steam the buns.”
Which I thought was an interesting tidbit of peculiar shipboard engineering. I remarked that a dedicated steam line from the engine room to the bridge definitely showed how different tugs and ships are. Tugboat hotdog preparation methods are slightly less refined.
|Complete with bun warmer.|
We then shifted our comments from hot dogs to the affore mentioned hot dog obsessed Captain. “He was my roommate at the Academy.”
Turns out, the pilot was a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Hence, the Captain of the ship was a MMA graduate as well.
As am I.
And so is my wife.
Graduation years were discussed and it was determined that I had “escaped” (please note that both the pilot and I used the term “escaped” from the Academy when referring to graduating) a few years before he and the ship’s Captain had arrived. However, my wife was in her senior year when the two of them had started school. Consequently, the pilot knew who my wife was. She had made him do pushups and “get in the half” on more than one occasion.
|"The Half" Stay there until your arms fall off.|
Based on this information, it was also determined that my wife probably knew the pilot’s roommate as well. Innocently enough I asked, “What was your room mates name?”
For those that aren’t familiar with the name, a quick read of this blog post might refresh your memory (selfless promotion).
For those of you who prefer the Cliffs Notes version…
(Now) Captain Shane Murphy, was previously the Chief Mate on a once little known ship, the Maersk Alabama. Perhaps you are familiar with the book, or the movie starring Tom Hanks, concerning said ship. It featured Captain Richard Phillips (also a MMA graduate) and the takeover of the ship by Somali pirates. The exact same ship that Shane was serving aboard as Chief Mate, at the exact time that the pirates decided to take the ship’s lifeboat and it's captain on a brief joy ride. A joy ride that ended with the Somali pirates meeting up with the sharp end of the Navy SEALs broad reaching sword. Long reaching rifles, in all actuality.
|Note to pirates.|
So while Captain Phillips was out in the lifeboat with the pirates on a 3-hour tour (It's okay to sing the song. You know you want to). Chief Mate Shane Murphy was therefore unceremoniously promoted to Captain in the previous Captain’s absence.
|Shane did not take over for Tom Hanks.|
This brings us back to the title.
It’s a small world.
You never know who you are going to meet out here. The maritime community is a small place to begin with. Just how small, happened to be highlighted quite nicely this week.
Besides, it’s nice to know that if I ever want to work on a certain ship I know the Captain’s weaknesses. Hot dogs and the fact that my wife made him do pushups while he was in school.
All good things to know.
|***Those dolls are creepy. Why has no one made a movie with these dolls coming to life and going on a murderous rampage? Perfect, right? If anyone does make a movie I want partial credit. You saw it here first.|