The weather was balmy, the sea was smooth as silk. A light breeze across the port bow. Collett was steaming in the strait of Formosa doing a routine patrol signaling passing merchants as to their status and cargo. As I remember, my mind was more on the port of Koashiung and a few cold brewskys. I had made the rate of SMSN and felt like had some control of my destiny.
Having been below deck when the Collett and Ammen collided I now spent most of my at sea time on the signal bridge. Sometimes sleeping inside the flag bag. Being only 150 pounds at that time I had no trouble squeezing in between the front rail and the bottom row of fingers that held some of the flags. Cozy in there and I felt somewhat safe. Self preservation. I suppose it was. Claustrophobic absolutely. Being an 18 years old sailor homeported in Yokosuka Japan I had learned a lot in the year or so Iíd been aboard my ship. Becoming a signalman striker had a lot to do with that accident off the coast of Newport Beach. I liked seeing where I was going and spent hours scanning the horizon. Signal traffic was mostly routine. The occasional urgent message and the words "stand by to write" had me rushing to pick up the incoming message board and a pencil. The signal bridge for the most part was in a spic and span condition, maintaining it was routine and enjoyable.
We all loved pickled eggs so with the help of the ships cook who rustled us up some hard boiled eggs, vinegar, beet juice, sliced onions and some hot peppers we made a few dozen in a large glass jar and stashed them under the desk in the signal shack. A week or so later we were ready to sample our creation. Very, very good was the consensus. One problem, they created a severe flatulent condition.
Having been a radioman striker for a few weeks and knowing the layout of the radio shack I thought I would share with my fellow shipmates some of the noxious fruits of our labor. There is a voice/message tube that leads from the signal bridge to the radio shack. It has a weather tight cover. Lift the cover, place your ear to the tube and you can hear conversation from below. Striking on the mid-watch that very evening I lifted the cover and passed some fumes to our shipmates below. Slammed the cover down and waited. Several minutes passed.
I raised the cover and listened for some reaction. The fumes must have overwhelmed the entire radio shack all I could hear was unprintable language and a question as to where it had come from. Knowing I was a practical joker it didnít take to long to figure out. I was forgiven and we all had a beer together at my expense at the next port of call. They had to admit it was funny.