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KEEP THE NAVY STEADY on its course, rules and have been evolved over the years as a guide to enable it t meet almost any contingency.
All very reasonable. But life being what it is, a situation sometimes arises when, one would think, NO rules could possibly fit. Here are a few for-instances, based upon months of desultory research:
Take fireflies, for instance. What possible use could the Navy make of 25,000 fireflies?
Simple. At the peak of the firefly season this spring, the Naval Weapons Lab at Dahlgren, Va., issued a call for 25,000 fireflies as a part of a study of light-producing materials.
Where did they get 25,000 fireflies? One doesn't just requisition them.
Simple again. They promised every kid in the neighborhood a penny apiece, in lots of 25, for every firefly they caught.
We never did hear how the Lab made out.
And then there's the destroyer-USS O'Brien (DD 725), to be precise-which not too long ago crossed two mountain ranges, sailed 180 miles up the Columbia River and went through the locks at Bonneville Dam. Then it took part in a rodeo. All in one day, too.
There were reasons. The principle motivation was a demonstration that seagoing vessels really could reach the "inland port" of Dallas, Wash., from the Pacific Ocean. As O'Brien is 376 feet long and draws 19 feet, it was a convincing demonstration.
As a further statistical sidelight, of the 300 men of the crew, 19 participated in the rodeo. They were unanimous in their opinion that the bridge of a destroyer in rough weather is preferable to the bridge-if that's the word-of a bucking bronco.
And now they're using helicopters to haul concrete. Not as a regular thing, of course.
As a rule, cement work is pretty routine. It's mixed in the cylinder of a cement truck which is driven to the construction site, it's poured into the forms, and that's that.
Not this time. The site happened to be at the top of the 700-foot Ulupau Crater at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station. The station needed a foundation for the new radar equipment that was being installed. The only way up was a steep, unpaved road, impassable to anything but four-wheel drive vehicles.
Several methods of getting the concrete to the top were considered. Navy engineers first considered mixing it at the top. But this idea was discarded as too expensive because equipment small enough to maneuver the road could not mix large enough quantities of concrete. Hauling premixed concrete by four-wheel vehicles was scrapped for the same reason.
Then a Hawaii helicopter firm was found which had done similiar work in the past. The Navy immediately contracted the firm to haul the concrete in modified 55-gallon drums.
Concrete trucks were driven to an open field at the base of the crater and the "chopper" began a shuttle run carrying full drums up and empty drums down, making round trips in less than three minutes.
The cement work was done in three days, the entire project in one week.