USS Dogfish (SS-350)

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The Bermuda Fueling Fiasco [1965]

Submitted By: Tam Graham

A Dogfish sailor I would again love to see is EN2 (SS) John Silengo. If anyone out there knows of his whereabouts, please let me know. John was one of the truly certifiable characters to ride the boat in the early-mid sixties. As Fuel King, John had no peer. His bookwork simply defied accountability, and exasperated our Engineer.

The Fuel and Water Reports (Fuel and Weather Reports as John called them) were given to the Engineer on a daily basis. Underway, John might go several days without forwarding his fuel report, and when delinquent, he would sneak them into the Fuel and Water Log which was stowed in a pocket in the Control Room gyro table. As Water King, it was my job to add the Water Report to John's report chit and put it in the Engineer's mail box in the wardroom. Whenever I prompted him for the report, he would say that he had wired it in and I would be receiving it shortly. Invariably, when the Engineer asked what the problem was with the reports, I could be sure that John had surreptitiously slipped the delinquent report chits into the book, without telling me, and I would catch hell, again.

John was fond of saying, with a wink and a nod, that he always had a couple of thousand gallons of diesel fuel in his back pocket. On more than one occasion that proved to be extremely valuable to him. He also called enlisted sailors Beadies, short for beady-eyed whitehats. According to the definition found in John's imaginary Blue Jackets' Manual, Beadies were "sly and cunning and were to be carefully watched at all times." I'm sure he viewed himself in that context and conducted himself accordingly.

We pulled into Bermuda late one afternoon and, being last boat in, moored outboard two other diesel boats. It was late in the day to begin such an evolution, but we fueled late into that evening, and so began what would later come to be known as The Great Bermuda Fueling Fiasco. There are varying accounts of just exactly what happened. The most likely is that the light grade diesel fuel was apparently hard to see in the sight glass of the compensating water line which discharged overboard. In the process, several thousand gallons of fuel oil were accidentally dumped into that wonderfully blue pristine water.

The next morning the authorities came calling to find out what had happened. John's slick (pun intended) record keeping bailed him out of that jam, apparently satisfying his inquisitors. He managed to convince them it must have been another boat which fueled earlier.

Of course, in today's environmentally conscious society, such an accident would have likely been subjected to a much more thorough investigation, and someone's butt would surely have been served up as a sacrifice. Still, I'd bet John could talk his way out of it.


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This page last updated: June 4, 2002