He must make the most economical use of the hands available during working hours, dealing in "bodies" rather than in the "paper-strength" of his complement, for there are always men away on leave and attending "courses" somewhere or other.He must allow for a number of men being detached from ship routine for the various training duties required by the gunnery and torpedo officers.That's the secret of a warship's white decks - sand and scrubbers, salt-water and elbow-grease.While one party cleans the deck, others, with hand-scrubbers groom the gangways and platforms.Next, "Call men under punishment," and there's a time set down for that, for one of the means of expiating a minor "jankers" crime in the Navy is to have to turn out before the rest of the hands.Now comes "Call the hands: lash up and stow: hands to wash and dress." That will be printed in heavy black type for it is a "key time." The Regulating Staff (crushers) post themselves at vantage points on the mess-decks; the boatswain's mates and buglers take up their posts; the Marine Corporal of the Gangway stands by the ship's bell; the Quartermaster switches on the ship's broadcast system and stands, "pipe" in hand, watching the clock.Someone passes the word to the engine-room to "start the fire-main": streams of water are soon cascading everywhere.Squads of sailors in seaboots with hard scrubbers scrub steadily and evenly across* (*Scrubbing across the grain makes more noise than scrubbing with the grain and therefore conveys the impression (entirely false) of great effort!
A mammoth task this, for upon its success depends the smooth running and efficiency of the ship from stem to stern. Let us then follow an ordinary day in harbour through this triumph of the Executive Officer's organising skill.
The Chief Boatswain's Mate checks over with the Captains of Tops that all are present - and along the deck comes the Commander himself, his feet thrust into short sea-boots, and with a muffler round his neck - up at the same time as his men and waiting to detail them to the various jobs that will keep his ship fighting fit and clean.
The Boats' Officer has one or two early jobs to be done in his boats, and the Commander allocates "one hand from each part" to him; the Chief Gunner also has a few outstanding jobs, and the Commander says Carry on the Gunner's Party.
He has to fit in the meal hours "laid-down" by regulations.
He has so to adjust matters that the day's work does not begin too soon, with no daylight to see what is being done, nor end too late when efforts are beginning to flag.