On Going to Mast

The Rundown

On US Naval ships, there is something called Non-Judicial Punishment, or NJP. This is where a sailor goes “before the Mast”, or sees the Captain of his or her command for minor infractions of the rules. Punishment can range from a simple slap on the wrist to loss of pay grade, restriction, and loss of pay. Here are some stories (the names have been removed to protect the guilty) about various Mast episodes that I have come across…

The Serious Ones

  • We had a terrible series of hazing related mastings on the Enterprise around the 2010-2011 timeframe. Some of them even public on the fantail, wasn’t good at all. Careers ruined, a frocked chief knocked to a second and some even kicked out. Changed the atmosphere big time for all of reactor and engineering on board.
  • Had an airdale that was attempting to shut one of the hangar bay doors. Dumbass didn’t realize that the track the door wheels run on had been pulled up for maintenance. Didn’t do his pre-check on it like he was supposed to. Also didn’t bother to notice that the motor controller was yellow tagged and ran the door off the track.He was also too fucking stupid to just rip the tag of and make it disappear. His attempt to hide it was to rip most of the tag off so there was approximately still one inch of yellow tag still attached to the controller.
  • We had this a Mechanic standing CRW and evidently played a game they often did about switching the feed pumps to manual control. The feed pump watch didn’t catch it this time and we went to do an evolution or something. Well the Steam generators went low… little too low. Caused an alarm and an investigation. He owned up to it right away. Because of what it was there was no way he would not be going to mast, but the Rx dept tried to take is easy on him. CO was not happy and threw in the charge of endangering a Navel vessel at the mast…
    Still, when he left the ship the guys in the Department helped him get a decent command since he had been honest in admitting his screw up and was a good sailor otherwise.
  • We were in Holy Loch and a buddy and I returned from chow and noticed that there was no Control Point watch at the RC, and there were guys working in there. The guy that was supposed to be Control Point said he got confused as we went to Battle Stations, and back and he thought he wasn’t on watch anymore. Officially he got a $10 fine. BUT, the next day he was transferred off the boat. Because of this, we developed a phrase when someone was bitching, we’d say “if you don’t like it here, just put your $10 on the clipboard and go forward.”
  • In 1965 at Mare Island Nuc School, some of the smart guys had noticed that if you failed out you got your two year extension dropped. Already tired of the Navy and not interested in making the Navy a career they decided to stop putting forth any effort and intentionally fail out. This worked for the first few who were border-line students but when some of the top students started showing drastically dropping grades it was clear that there was an attitude problem. There was a new school just opening up on Mare Island at that time and was in need of students so anyone failing out of Nuc School was immediately assigned to the new school.

    What was this new school?

    It taught students to operate River Boats and sent them to Vietnam to drive and maintain the plywood river boats. Needless to say the failure rate at nuc school rapidly decreased.
    We had a couple of guys in our class who tried this and were passed the point of no return and ended up getting shot in Vietnam.

    • Follow-up comment to this: The beatings will continue until morale improves.

The Not-So-Serious Ones

  • Got caught playing tic tac toe during A school class. Was labeled the “instigator”. Restriction, extra duty and civilian clothes taken away during restriction.
  • Nuke Jumping off the stern of the Big E at full speed at night. Man overboard rescue etc then asked if he was scared says nope he was on high school dive team.
  • A good friend faked his ID so he could drink in Charleston. His MMC caught it during urinalysis. Told him he wouldn’t get in trouble if just confessed. He was de-nuked at mast, enrolled in a treatment program, and basically bounced out of the Nav.I found him on LinkedIn a few years ago. God rest his soul, that asshole listed special forces on his resume!
  • I recall a guy getting masted and trying to rally guys on his side, saying, “They only have power over us to the extent that we allow them.” I quietly hinted that what he may be talking about sounded a touch like mutiny, and it may not be wise to shout such things, especially underway.
  • All the same guy, first mast I know about from him, doing ‘sit-ups’ in the mezzanine on watch, aka sleeping. Second for the guy, he was supposed to get some Bartons calibrated before we left on deployment, decided that was too much work and put them in the shore power bunker instead, we found out that we didn’t have them on month 5 of deployment. His third was a Commodores mast, he was the duty driver that night, one of our guys was drunk and called for help to get back on base, this guy was like nah, I don’t feel like it you’re on your own dude. That’s what finally got him processed out.
  • Around 2002, just after I had reported to my boat, hazing was becoming a zero tolerance thing. One of the MS3 just got his fish, and to celebrate, two MS2 taped him to one of the tables on crew’s mess. They left him there for a couple minutes, cut him off, and everyone laughed.A few weeks later the three of them went to mast (surprise! you taped someone down to a table in CREW’S MESS). Yes, the MS3 who got taped went to mast because he didn’t report the hazing incident to his chain of command.And people wonder why we say the Navy isn’t a fun place to work anymore?
  • I went to mast twice. The first time was in boot camp; I got crazy sick and they thought my kidneys might be failing. After I graduated I was put in a hold division so they could run some medical tests before sending me to nuke school.There were about 150 people in the hold division, and a group of us decided to start playing the balls game from “waiting.” Every time someone new would show up, they’d get woken up in the middle of their first night to see someone giving them the brain. Eventually word of this got out, and the MA’s lined up the whole group of us, telling everybody “you’re all going to mast for failure to report if you don’t tell us who was doing it.”

    I was the only person who said “I don’t know anything about it” (still proud of that). One person named me, so up I go for indecent exposure. Still have the paperwork for that one.

  • The second time was on the Lincoln. IIRC we were just finishing an ORSE. I was standing shutdown roving watch, hanging out in EOS. Some ELT’s were doing a primary sample, and kept making strange reports to EOS, canceling reports of valve manipulations etc. The watch officer sent me down to see what was going on (found out later that they had broken a valve in the sample sink).I go down and give them a bit of “what the fuck, guys”. They don’t take it well, and I call the watch supervisor down to find out what the deal is since they won’t talk to me.

    About twenty minutes later, with them still in the sink, I come back and say “so seriously, what was going on?”

    The chick who was actually doing the sample shrieks and fucking leaps across the ten foot distance between us, wet radcon gear still on, and punches me straight in the face five or six times. I remember seeing her face contorted in rage and thinking to myself “I’m not going to hit her back, but if I upper cutted her right now she would bite off her tongue.”

    The other ELT pulls her off me, I tell her “you are so fucked”, and in an unbelieving daze I walk back up to EOS and say “_____ just punched me straight out of the sample sink. Oh yeah, also: spill. I’m the spill, I guess.”

    Somehow, we both end up going to mast for it, her for assault and me for “provoking speeches and gestures.” The CO ended up giving both of us no punishment because “we were in a really stressful situation with the yards and ORSE” but required us both to go to anger management classes.

    For the rest of my time in I heard “Raaaaddcoooooon puuunch!” A lot.

Too Much “Fooling” Around

  • Shortly after we transited from Norfolk to San Diego around South America, an LN2 friend of mine in the Legal department came up pregnant. She never would say who the father was, but swore up and down that it must’ve been her ex-boyfriend, and happened before we left the east coast.Fast-forward to her having the baby several months later at Balboa Hospital. During the delivery, the doctor asks her the name of the father for the birth certificate, and she gives it to him- the Legal Officer aboard the ship (who actually was a pretty cool guy, so long as he wasn’t prosecuting you). Word gets back to the ship quickly, and the CO has him hauled off in shackles. Apparently their child had been conceived one very drunken night in port in I think Rio de Janiero- in the legal office aboard ship.Last I heard, they were still married with another kid or two.
  • In the same vein, we were about to pull in after a multiday flight deck certification cruise for a few squadrons, and during zone inspections the morning before we returned, somebody found a condom wrapper in an O-3 squadron space.Somebody from V-1 finally sings, and come to find out one of the more attractive females from that division had spent the majority of the underway “servicing” her fellow ABH’s between their shifts on the flight deck. And some squadron types. And some ABE’s. And probably some grapes as well.A lot of folks were very nervous when she came up pregnant a few months later.
  • Builder’s sea trials, the CO was walking around the VIP staterooms on the O-3 level aft when he hears strange noises coming from one of them. Unlocks the door, to find two LT’s from Supply going at it in the Stateroom. Marches them both up to the bridge to call their respective spouses and inform them of what they’d been caught doing. Both were gone from the ship as soon as we got back to Newport News.
  • A new arrival showed up on ship. A young, well endowed woman who I got to know somewhat on our ferry ride into Hong Kong. Surprised there were so many nice guys willing to help her out and offer her a place to stay in their hotel while we were in port. Word got around she was hydro tested while we were there.Flash forward a couple of months back out and doing boxes in the Gulf. Friends of some MAAs find out she’s going to mast, as they were roaming and checking fan rooms. A couple of MAAs come upon two guys standing outside a fan room door and when asked they state they’re waiting their turn. MAAs go in and find her happily working on 5 guys.She goes to last and when the captain asks her a question about the charges, she proceeds to explain in detail how much she likes sex, what she likes, etc. Captain blushed and she was flown off ship.
  • We had a guy go to mast while at Newport News for refuel on Nimitz for some dumbass reason I forget (but if you knew this guy you’d understand the stupid shit he got himself into). Proclaimed deeply religious man, and he and his wife decide they’d like to start the swinging lifestyle when we got back into port. Have a female friend and male friend they swung with except he started seeing the single female separately from his wife.Wife finds out and leaves the kids with a babysitter while he’s on restriction and doesn’t come back.Fast forward to the next night when the babysitter finally calls the cops because she realizes the wife isn’t coming back. Hampton roads finest show up to the ship ready to haul him off for child abandonment and find out he’s on restriction. CO lifts restriction so he can go get his kids and he disappears from the ship never to be seen again after the full story comes out about his lifestyle and this result.

The Funny Ones

  • Me: Blah-blahCO: “The XO’s an idiot. Dismissed.”
  • I went to mast for drawing a cock and splooge on a buddy’s photo with Microsoft Paint while on watch. It was a damn good drawing and got me out of going to prototype so no hard feelings.
  • Helium filled rad con gloves released at NPTU Ballston Spa.
  • My favorite was from a guy who’d gone to Idaho. Filling an inflatable shark with helium and sending it floating out into a restricted area to watch the security response…
  • I wonder if these guys got caught and masted? — There was a story about a couple of students at NPS Orlando a year before I got there. Apparently there were anti-nuclear protesters outside the rear gates. These two students bought a large quantity of light sticks, cut them open, and emptied them into a big plastic bucket. At dusk (when it was still light out, but the glowing stuff was VERY visible), they exited a building near the gates, dressed in paper overalls and painting masks. They dumped the contents of the glow sticks right through the fence near the protesters, who scattered! At least, that was consistently the story I heard from several sources. Anyone know if it was true?
  • I had to witness (RE and RC divs both had to be there en-masse) the masting of three members who had been caught writing stuff on the backs of various label plates because they signed their names… Oh, but it gets better…The reason they were caught in the first place is because an ETCS standing EOOW noticed that two label plates on the RPCP were swapped (oops! That was actually a big deal). When they went around to fix this discrepancy, they noticed that there were various anti-navy initials on the backs of these labels, so they started investigating further. Three names turned up who were still attached to the ship, so they went to mast… one of them being called back from terminal leave to attend.The mast was all very serious and all, but they just received slaps on the wrist with no real punishment (kind of hard when one of them is on terminal).However, it still doesn’t end… while the mast proceedings were going on (on the Bridge, no less) I watched out of the corner of my eye as a couple of electricians removed a label plate from one of the Bridge items and wrote various things on the back of it before putting it back in place… while the mast for this very infraction was taking place…

    Oh the glory!

  • Not so much the masting itself… Four young geniuses in RM Division on the Enterprise decided that a six month deployment was not for the likes of them. So they obtained a quantity of marijuana, smoked it, and reported themselves for it. At the time Captain Martin Chanik had the ‘Prise, I can only assume for sins in a past life. He was not a dumb man. He knew what they wanted and he determined that they would not get it. So he brought them into his office – but NOT for Mast. He informed them sadly that with a deployment only weeks away, he was simply swamped! So much paperwork getting one of Uncle Sam’s capital ships off on such an adventure… So the four lads would need to wait for their Masts, say… Six months or so. Just until the paperwork burden eased and he could fit them in, you understand. Oh, but due to the seriousness of their admitted infractions, they were restricted to the ship. And de-nuked. They could report to the mess decks first thing in the morning.Schadenfreude felt awfully sweet that day.
  • An SRO had a PDA and was putting his schedule in. While he did that, I was trying to get the Wifcom radio working, with plenty of Atari-esque beeps. Our ETCM came in to review logs, heard the radio beeping, and took the SRO to mast for playing video games on his phone. He and I both protested, and I spoke up at his mast.The CO have him a slap on the wrist. He was more concerned about kicking our department head out of the mast to attend to his Dept, since he was such a major fuck up. IIRC, we’d just had some big event, like an incorrect startup or something, and our Reactor Officer shifted blame to an LDO.Good times on the Washington.
  • We had an e-div nub who had the word “wham-o” tattooed in huge letters on his arm. We asked him what that meant when he first got to the boat and the only reply he ever gave was “that is just how I live my life”. We found out exactly what that meant during deployment when we pulled into Guam. The first day after we pulled in was a little rough for everyone because we partied so hard. Wham-o didn’t show up until 1 that day and when we asked where he was he just told is he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be around much longer. He went to mast and it turned out he spent the whole night doing coke with a stripper on the beach. The captain asked what he was thinking and the only thing he said with a huge smile on his face was “I had to go with the Wham-o on that one!” We never saw him again.
  • I was in port watch support at NR-1. Someone found a roll of film in the back of a drawer and sent it to NSSF for developing. CO of NSSF calls our CO screaming about a dick pic, and how they were going to blow it up and find out what ship’s belt buckle the guy was wearing and fry his ass. We knew who it was. Just been flocked to Chief and named Navy’s SOY. That went away quickly!

Total Bullshit

  • My sister was masted for signing a birthday card while on watch.
  • I got put on report/DRB/XOI for Failing to Follow an order to sit in the Reactor Operator’s chair “correctly”. On the Michigan, the spacing between the Watch officer’s desk and the RO’s chair was too close. When we were on patrol we’d always sit with the chair rotated 90 degrees, so that our backs were against the front of the desk and our knees weren’t in the handrail/desk portion of the RPCP.

Almost Went to Mast

  • Doing ORSE work up I was heading back to shaft alley to grab a Randolph pump to clear out the ERF bilge. On my way through the M-Div spaces we had a brief discussion on their parents marital status, mothers “skills”, and their overall manliness.On my way back with the pump we continued the discussion only this time with a couple of rolls of EB Green and a chainfall. They were helping back to ERF when the EDEA wandered through and ordered them to put me down. He asked me who taped me up and my response was “nobody Master Chief, I tripped on this roll of tape”.Not a smart response to give to someone who had recently screwed up a discharge lineup and had to re-qualify everything.The two guys carrying me and I were all put on report for hazing (me as an accessory for not turning anyone in). My chief told me I was screwed and should turn the other guys in. The M-Div chief pointed out to the ENG that he was about to lose three senior ORSE watch standers and suddenly the report paperwork vanished and we were tasked to write the command hazing policy, which we never did.
  • Much more impressive than my “self-hazing”: I put a label on my coffee cup as BDA (not trying on an intellectual basis, overpowering a stem lock… being the BDA is quite nice, people only ask for help to lift, and not much else, I miss those days). Lt Cmdr EDO sees it and yells at me for allowing myself to be hazed. Threatening EMI, mast, every thing. I’m like, du fuq? I put it on myself. How is that hazing? Well, it is. Take it off.
  • On our “world” cruise on Nimitz for refuel and on 2nd ORSE workup on the same cruise, several people from RE/RC div came really close to going to mast.MAAs had been working on setting up a sting for a while for gambling. They’d fumble in and out of our lounge to the RC head and this time there were both tables playing poker going on. They head off to get the rest of the tram and by the time they get back, it’s spun out to not only gambling but hazing of RC nubs in progress. Again, several guys set to be sent up and all ORSE watchstanders.CO has a discussion with the RO (who was new on this cruise) and let him handle it as he figured reactor was pretty stressed from essentially back to back ORSE’s and no one went up. All the hard work the MAAs put in was for naught.If it had been our old RO, the divisions would have been hurting.
  • I thought I was going to mast. I had a day left in the Navy. A DAY.The nimrod MAAs had posted these flyers all over the command saying not to flash your brights “this Saturday” at a car with no headlights on, because this would start a gang initiation ritual where they had to follow and murder you.No date, the phone number went to a real PA state trooper who said to look it up on Snopes, etc.So I made a different version of the flyer that said not to offer an old person assistance crossing the street. This would start a AARP initiation ritual where they had to murder you while yelling to get off their lawn. The flyer looked identical in font and spacing, etc. I put my LPO’s phone number instead of the PA State Trooper. I replaced every single flyer on the command. All of them.

    I got found out weeks later and was marched into the Master Chief’s office. He proceeded to shriek up one side and down the other, calling me fat, old looking, and a disgrace to the service. I almost laughed, except I didn’t want to jeopardize my pending DD-214.

  • A story above reminded me of my first Med deployment. The main Reactor berthing on the Enterprise was large, located on the 2nd deck aft. There were all kinds of storage lockers, shaft alleys, valve manifolds, and God knew what else that could only be accessed by crossing through our berthing. We had a MAJOR theft problem. Alarm clocks, books, anything not nailed down. I had a whole bag of dirty laundry (actual, not metaphorical) stolen. We complained. We were ignored for months. Then one day the MAAs arrived and kicked everyone out for two hours, no explanation given. Tons of outlandish explanations were considered, none of them correct. Finally they let us back in. About four hours later a team of five MAAs shows up and places an EM2 under arrest. Turns out they had placed a hidden camera in the overhead as a sting, and hung a set of coveralls up with a 20-dollar bill sticking out of the breast pocket as bait. They were sure they’d caught the master criminal, and grilled him for HOURS in the brig without explaining what he was even being arrested for. Finally they told him and he burst out laughing. “Did you check the pocket?” They had not. The $20 was still inside. He had tucked it in when he returned to rack out. Damn morons never did catch a thief.
  • Came pretty close in NY. I was an instructor at prototype and we had a Halloween party. A student who was slated to be a staff pick up when his class finished was there, dressed as Dracula. He got really drunk, so we had sober folks drive him home and put him in bed. Unfortunately they left his car keys in the apartment and he woke up a couple hours later, still drunk, and tried to drive home to his folks house a few hours away. Ran his car off the road, still dressed as Dracula. He got a DUI, command tried to nail me for the party, until they found out the Chief and LT for our section group all knew about it. For those that went to Saratoga Springs in the 80s, it was a very interesting conversation with “Daddy Jack”


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