Until my retirement in 2002, I spent most of my engineering career working in the defense
industry. During my roughly 45 working years, I experienced several interesting events. One that I vividly recall,
took place in the mid-1990’s.
The company that I was working for at the time was supplying a piece of equipment that was
used on board some of the Navy’s submarines. One of the submarine bases at which the equipment was serviced was at
the Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California.
I was attending a technical conference in San Diego and had a morning free when the
presentations weren’t of interest to me. I contacted the office that was in charge of using and maintaining our
equipment at the submarine base and asked for permission to stop in for a short 1 or 2 hour visit to talk with the
Navy personnel there to determine how the equipment was performing, if there were any problems, and to find out if
they had any suggestions for making improvements to the equipment.
I was given permission to come in and I told my contact that I would be on-base at 7:00 AM
the next morning. I estimated that I should be able to complete my visit by 9:00 AM and be back at the technical
conference by 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning.
The next morning, I arrived promptly at 7:00 in the morning and spent the next two to three
hours with two Navy Chiefs who were handling our equipment. Around 10:00 AM, I had obtained all the information that
I had come for and was ready to leave, but the Chiefs insisted that I stay for a while and then join them at the
Non-Commissioned Officers’ (NCO) club for lunch. So I stayed and went with them to the NCO club where the three of
us had sandwiches, chips and a beer for lunch. Around 11:30 AM, I was again ready to leave, sure that I could get
to my conference in time for the afternoon session.
Once again the Chiefs insisted that I stay and join them for a beer or two. Not wanting to
seem rude, I agreed. Now I am not a big beer drinker, one or two on a very hot summer day being my typical limit.
But from around 11:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, I tried to keep pace with my two companions. I
quickly lost track of how many beers I consumed, but I can assure you that it was quite a few more my normal limit
of two. At 4:00 PM, the chiefs said that they were going off-duty and invited me to join them at their off-base
apartment for some beers. By this time I was completely “beered-out” and the thought of one more bottle of beer
was totally repugnant. I politely declined with the lie that I had another appointment that evening.
I left the NCO club and got into my rented car and sat there for an hour or two until I
felt sober enough to safely drive off. I can’t say as a certainty that my two navy friends didn’t follow the same
routine several days each week, but I am certain that the extended liquid lunch break was not an isolated event.
The many beers consumed seemed to have no noticeable effect on the two Chiefs, as opposed to the obvious
inebriating effect that the several beers had on me.
Sailors throughout the world are reputed to have enormous capacities for consuming
alcoholic beverages. We are all familiar with the terms “drunken sailor” and “sailor with a hollow leg”. After
my experience at Point Loma that one day leads me to the belief that the sailors in my U.S. Navy can
out-drink the sailors any other navy.