Sailors love to play practical jokes on each other. This includes sending green sailors off on “snipe hunts” for non-existent items. I suspect that some of these mythical items originated in WWII or even earlier. Hence, why some of them aren’t very applicable to the modern era. The following is a list with a few of my own additions (I’ve included an explanation below each one).
I need you to get me…
A bucket of prop wash/jet blast from the aviators.
Prop wash is the turbulent air created by a turning aircraft propeller. Same for jet blast from jet engines. They’re not cleaning solutions for aircraft!
An air sample from the engine exhaust.
Here’s a trash bag.
A left-handed wrench (or any tool) from the tool room.
Many tools are ambidextrous (but some aren’t), so why would it matter which hand it’s held in?
An adjustable metric wrench from the tool room.
If it’s adjustable, why should it matter if it’s metric or not?
A fathom of water line/shoreline from the Boatswain’s locker.
The water line is where the ship’s hull meets the surface of the water. The shoreline is the stretch of land where the shore meets the water.
A fathom of flight line.
The flight line is where aircraft are parked and readied for sorties.
Red and green oil for the running lights.
They’re electric lights.
A piston return spring from the engine room.
Some things do have return springs, but pistons aren’t one of them.
Dehydrated water from the boiler room.
Think about that for a second. If it’s dehydrated, then how is it still water?
A sine waver from the electronics shop. (To revive flattened sine waves.)
Good luck with that one.
High frequency cleaner from the electronics shop.
It’s not a cleaning solution. The High Frequency (HF) band is radio waves from 3 – 30 MHz.
A board stretcher from the carpenter’s shop.
Good luck. I hear it’s next to the grill extension for the galley.
A grid square from the chart room.
They come in packs of eight. HeHe!
A bucket of steam from the boiler room.
Be sure to wear gloves.
A look at the golden rivet in the keel.
There’s a long-standing urban legend that all ships have a single golden rivet hammered somewhere into the keel (deep in the bowels of the ship). This isn’t the transcontinental railroad, mind you. Alternatively, you can say that it’s located somewhere in the hull. It’s even more amusing if the clueless sailor doesn’t know the difference between a welded hull and one that’s riveted.
A can of striped-paint from the paint locker.
The one with blue stripes, if you please. Don’t quote me on this, but I suspect this stems from the days of painting ships in dazzle camouflage.
Keys for the helos/jets.
The aviators keep losing them!
Pipe cleaners or bore wire for cleaning the torpedo tubes/deck gun.
Just grab a whole bunch.
Relative bearing grease.
Not that kind of “bearing,” buddy.
Fifty feet of chow line.
A chow line is the line of people waiting to be served food in the galley.
A box of radar/radio contacts.
It’s not an electrical contact.
Captain’s Mast grease.
Captain’s Mast is an Article 15 non-judicial punishment hearing. There’s no actual mast. Although, it may come from the days when the captain would hold hearings around the main mast and punishments involved tying the perpetrator the mast while they were flogged.
For rudders that jam and stick easily, no doubt.
Twenty feet of Plimsoll line.
The Plimsoll line is a marking on the hull of a ship that measures its draft.
A sea bat.
These are very rare creatures and difficult to catch. They only come out at night.
Batteries for the sound-powered telephones.
Yes, sound-powered phones are real. However, why would they need batteries if all you need to do is speak into them?
Gasoline credit car before UNREP (Underway Replenishment) commences.
Last I checked it was a VISA card. They’ve got a really high credit limit on it.
Report for sweepers in the bowling alley.
They use cannonballs as bowling balls. Gotta keep the lanes clear!
A Fallopian tube for the PMS radar.
The female sailors or the corpsman can help you out with that one.
Change the light bulbs in the light locker.
They’re always burning out! A light locker is a section of the passageway next to exterior openings that blocks interior light from shining outside and making the ship visible at night. Usually, there’s an interior door or curtain you close to block the light before opening the exterior hatch.
Food for the shaft seals.
They’ll eat anything (including you)! Don’t let ’em bite you! Also known as a lip seal or radial shaft seal.
Twenty feet of gig line.
The gig line is a line formed by the edge of the shirt placket, belt buckle, and pant’s fly seam. It’s a uniform inspection thing.
BT/Bosun’s punch. (BT is a Boiler Technician. Bosun is a Boatswain’s Mate.)
I hope you like getting punched in the arm by the BT or BM.
The crank to lower the mast when going under a bridge.
Some boats do have mast-raising/lowering gear. This ship isn’t one of them and the crank doesn’t exist.
Some “ID10T” (Eye-Dee-Ten-Tango) and “BA1100N” (Bravo-Alpha-Eleven-hundred-November) forms from the ship’s office.
Classic LEET Speak. You’re looking for the “idiot” and “balloon” forms. The latter needs to be blown up before submitting.
Lookout for CG-U11s (Cee-Gee-U-Elevens).
Another LEET Speak one. These are very distinct reconnaissance aircraft, usually of Russian, Chinese, or Coast Guard origin. Hint: You’re searching for “seagulls.”
Non-skid wax for the decks.
Wax would defeat the purpose of non-skid.
A box of chemlight batteries.
Chemlights are another term for glow sticks. Like those things you use around Halloween or at trance parties.
Mop up the water in the sea room.
I’ll get you a bucket.
Spark plugs for the engine.
These are very rare on ships with diesel engines. (Diesel engines don’t use spark plugs!)
“Blow the DCA.”
It’s not some kind of horn. DCA = Damage Control Assistant.
Weigh anchor and report back on how heavy it is.
Here’s a bathroom scale. To weigh anchor means to raise it off the seabed and get underway.
Go on Mail Buoy Watch
It’s like a post box on the ocean. It has bags hanging off of it containing letters, packages, etc. Look really hard!
(When crossing the equator) Look out for the line in the water.
You can’t miss it! It’s a bright red line that separates the northern and southern hemispheres. There’s also the International Date Line and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles (which are bright blue or turquoise).
Search Hard and You’ll Find it
Obviously, there’s an endless number of things you could send the newbie on a wild goose chase for. Some of the more clever ones I’ve heard about involve people from different services sent looking for something they assume is specific to another service. “Find a stack of 11 Bravos or 0311s.” (The MOS designation for infantry in the Army and Marines, respectively.) Other services/branches/occupations have their own variants, as well.
“Take this hammer and find the soft spots in the tank’s armor, and then measure the front of the tank with the front slope wear gauge.”
“Do a BOOM test on the artillery/tank gun. Stick your face up to the muzzle and yell ‘BOOM’ down the barrel. Someone at the breech end will be listening.”
Indeed, some people get very creative with their snipe hunts, while others contend that it’s hazing. Personally, I just take it in stride and understand that it’s all done in good humor.
Bluejacket.com. (2021). Humor-Miscellaneous. Bluejacket.com. https://bluejacket.com/humor_misc.html.
Then there was my personal fav – the left handed wind shifter.