This Is One Submariner Who Speaks English

ROUTE 2 -- A weekly journey through Anne Arundel County

April 15, 1992|By Candy Thomson

When you spend a couple of days with military people and the folks who make the weapons, you get sucked into a world of funky acronyms, bewildering titles and strange activities.

People are called POOD and QMOW and SUBLANT and NAVSEA.

They do things like "break pennants" and "hoist ensigns" and "open VLS tubes." (Navy personnel did all of these things in about five minutes Saturday at the commissioning of the nuclear submarine USS Annapolis.)

And they talk about nasty things like Harpoon missiles, ADCAP torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles -- all items I assume could blow me to Pluto or beyond.

These phrases come up in "normal" conversation and are said with great earnestness. The facial expression of the speaker cautions that these are not words to be trifled with.

After several hours of this chatter, you realize English is a second language to many military people. A civilian's mind becomes tapioca.

So it was with great delight that this writer came upon Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Jay Danna, of Annapolis, sitting in the mess cabin of his sub.

Unlike his shipmates, Danna clearly was not enjoying the attention of the media, which were poking about his home and office.

But despite his wariness, Danna stripped away the SUBGRUs and the SUPSHIPs and gave it to us in plain English.

With writers and photographers poised above him, Danna took a deep breath and explained the Annapolis' mission this way: "We go out. We go down. We comeback."

Splendid work, MM3 (SU) Danna. Perhaps there's a job at the Pentagon for you.

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