Time for another episode...
After I was commissioned and finally made it to my first ship (different story), the USS DENVER (LPD-9), part of the Gator Navy, we deployed 4 days after I reported aboard, headed for the western Pacific. After nearly 6 weeks of transiting and exercises (another story as well), we made it to Subic Bay, RP. After a few days in port, we got underway for a joint exercise with the Philippine Navy/Marine Corps and sure enough I got assigned as Boat Officer for the Medical Safety boat.
We manned the boats before dawn. I decided to wear my Kabar 1219C2 for my first Boat Officer gig. After all, Navy Regs said a boat crew member should carry either a USN MK1 or a USN MK2, and a 1219C2 was just the Marine version of the MK2. What better knife to use than one that was heavily used in the retaking of the Philippines from the Japanese?? In the dark, no one saw it on my hip, and with all the commotion on deck, no one noticed it when I returned for our lunch/head break.
When we finished for the day, we were hoisted aboard. As I left the boat as it swung from the davits, the XO happened to be standing there where I removed the kapok life vest were wore while in the boats. He saw my Kabar and said
“Z – what the hell is that thing?”
“What thing, sir?”
“That sword on your hip.”
“Sword, Sir?? It’s not a sword, it’s a USMC 1219C2, the same thing as a USN MK2. You know, what every boat crew member is supposed to carry. Well, this or a USN MK1.”
“What do you mean, every boat crew member is to carry one? No one has one.”
“Well, I read it in the regs about the duties of a boat officer, so I bought 1 of each.”
Well, the “conversation” moved to his stateroom where he pointed at a complete set on Navy Regs in a book case and said “Show me.”
After about 10 minutes of looking at indexes I found the requirement.
He stared at it for a bit and then called the Supply Officer to his stateroom and asked him how many MK1s and MK2s we had on board. The SUPO shrugged and called his SKC over the XOs bitchbox (intercom system) who said
“Oh, none. Every ship turned them in a few years ago as surplus. Everyone buys their own folding knives now if they need a knife.”
It appeared that while the Supply system removed the MK1 and MK2 from stores, someone forgot to change the Regulations,
at least in that one section that I had found because I was bored enough and conscientious enough to read ALL the Navy Regs.
The XO then said
“Well, I don’t see why anyone would need a knife that big anyway.”
Being a young and dumb Ensign who didn’t know any better, I contradicted him (an O5) and said
“Fixed blades are better than pocket knives in an emergency.”
“s...! SUPO’s leg is caught in a bite and he’s getting pulled under.”
(For landlubbers, Line is the Navy term for “rope” and a bite is a loop in a line. It’s is NOT a good idea to have your foot in a loop if the line starts running out. It’ll drag you right through where ever the line runs, including through a bitt. Rope is the Navy term for steel cables on winches.)
And commenced to pull my Buck 110 out of my pocket, struggled a bit getting my hand out of my pocket, open the knife (2 handed of course) and “reached” to start cutting the imaginary line.
“Oooppsss! SUPO’s already gone over the side. Too bad. Well, there’s more supply officers out there.” Nasty look from the SUPO.
I closed the 110, stuck it in my pocket and said
“Second demo – back up a little, sirs.
s...! SUPO’s leg’s in a bite.”
And pulled the Kabar out and slashed down as if I were chopping at the non-existent line and slid the knife into my sheath.
“That’s why a fixed blade is better. It’s faster to get out in an emergency, capable of cutting a 1” line faster than trying to use a 3” folding knife and quicker to put up.”
The XO said I could leave.
“Does that mean I’m not to wear the Kabar for boat ops?”
With a grin he said
“No. Go ahead and wear it. Obviously, you know what you’re doing with it and besides, you’re not in violation of Navy Regs.”
I was the only person on board with a fixed blade, well, except for the cooks, and the only one wearing one on boat ops, obviously. When I left the DENVER a couple of years later, I was transferred to a carrier, where I was assigned to the Engineering dept, and Engineering officers never serve as boat officers, and after the carrier, I was always a Department Head, and only Division Officers are boat officers.
Eventually a change came out removing the MK1/MK2 reference in boat crew equipment.