Mutiny On The High Seas II

| February 11, 2021

Snipe at work.

In response to Ex’s original post, our own Jeff LPH3 sends us this account of how the playing field was leveled, back in the early days of coal powered vessels. Fact or legend? Like any good Sea Story, I’ll start this with,



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan T. Miller

Sweat runs down a soot-covered face, carving a path through the thick field of grime. It gathers and pools before falling in a bead to the metal below. It sizzles as it hits and is gone.

The cramped metal room is hot. It is a place where fires burn, water boils and steam lives. The man with the soot-covered face looks up as orders are relayed from above. He shakes off his daze and nudges his partner, then picks up a coal shovel. Time to answer the bell.

These are the original Snipes, and their story dates back more than two centuries.

The first steam-powered warship in the world was the Demologos – later named the Fulton in honor of the man who designed it. According to Frank M. Bennett in “The Steam Navy of the United States,” the New York-built vessel was constructed in 1814 to combat the British during the War of 1812.

The Demologos, however, was not completed in time for use against the British fleet. Nonetheless, it changed the seas forever. No longer would navies be reliant on the whims of the wind.

“Back in the days of sail, they used to have Sailors that would run the sails to make the ships move,” explained Senior Chief Gas Turbine System Technician Nakia Riley of USS Preble (DDG 88). “The first engines they put on ships were steam engines, and the people they had to actually man the plants were steam engine operators from land.”

Riley is a tall man who looks at home at his watch station, a raised chair overlooking Preble’s central control station. His title aboard Preble is “Top Snipe,” and the words stand out in bold on his name tag. He explained that in the early days, there was a divide between the deckhands and the engineers from land. Ship crews needed them to operate the engines, but refused to view the gritty, coal-covered men as Sailors.

Read the rest of the article here: All Hands
Thanks, Jeff. Seems I need a BT Punch. Mind if I send one of my FNG’s to get one?

Category: Guest Link, Navy

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NTANS???? What’s that? I couldn’t find anything on the AlGorenet.


Oh … I didn’t figure in the “Now” part. Now it makes sense. No Shinola, This Really Happened.

Thanks, AW1Ed

Good story.


Today those same men could learn to code.


And now we know! Kool as all hell story. Remember reading awhile back about a CSN Commerce Raider that got outfitted in Bermuda. Something to the effect that 100 tons of coal was about a 2 week supply. How many shovels full that would be times 2. Shovel to load it in the coal bunkers then shovel it into the firebox. And them boys were making $11 -13 a month.

“…a floating box.” Or as I like to say, “A Floating Artillery Platform” or a portable Air Strip for Aerial Artillery Platforms.

Tanks Mateys!

Mike Gunns

So…a Snipe hunt was a real thing then.


The movie “The Sand Pebbles” with Steve McQueen gives a glimpse of the animosity between the Black Gang and the topside crew.
If you can get past all that love story business with a young Candice Bergen.


And if the term “Black Gang” offends you, tough tiddlywinks. (Though I think few here will be offended.) It has nothing at all to do with race, and everything to do with being covered in coal dust.


Agreed, good movie overall.. Gives some history of a time usually glossed over in school.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist

“Without them, the ship is just a floating box.”

That’s how we commo felt about the DATs and CDATs, “without us, all you got is a 60 ton rolling paperweight.”

As (then) Capt Branch said over the 1MC aboard the USS Nimitz the night we left San Diego and the day before the aircraft would fly aboard, “Without the air wing, we’re just the fastest ship in the Navy.”


As a MM3 and after 3 days stuck on a sandbar, in the middle of Boston Harbor, in the midst of a massive northeaster with 6 of 8 boiler ooc, all four engines ooc, 72 hours without sleep, no showers, spam for 3 meals a day, we finally got two engines functional, pulled off the bar and limped back into port. The Captain came across the 1MC and said “Thanks to the snipes…” I came topside and a MAA1 told me I wasn’t properly clean enough to be topside…. Needless to say…I went about my business…while he wondered later wth happened….:)