The Banana Boat Stranded At Midway Island

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mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
36,083
37,141
Here's a sea story from my time in the Navy at Midway Island, which had an active air/sea rescue function at the time, and also served as a port of refuge for ships needing safe harbor. We got one, a nearly new construction banana boat with a mostly British crew. The new hull had hit heavy weather and the hull plates above the water line actually folded, so they headed for the nearest harbor, which was Midway. The ship was stuck there for weeks. I went out with a whale boat with a party of insurance investigators from Lloyds of London and chatted with a crew member or two. Over their visit, they had to unload their complete load of still green bananas before they ripened and spoiled, so bananas were everywhere, in the cafeteria, the enlisted club, and barracks. Finally temporary repairs were made, and the ship went off to a dry dock in Honolulu or the West Coast. I think some of the bananas got buried in the sand to keep from drawing flies.
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
26,910
34,305
Helena, Alabama
Bananas are the icon of modern humor. It has a funny name. Looks nothing like a penis. And, it's slippery peel has victimized many of our favorite mid-20th century's TV comedians. Knock knock jokes, word play, slapstick, vaudevillian... some may say that the coconut cream pie to the face is the antithesis of funny, but all a director has to do is show the impending doom of a banana peel on the floor... laughs abound. Hell, all Groucho has to do is hold a banana to his ear and say "Hello," and people laugh.
Apples are serious medicine, oranges can't rhyme, peaches are slutty, but bananas... Hey big boy, is that a banana in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
36,083
37,141
At the time I wondered who built this ship and where? I wonder if it is still out there plying the trade routes, or if it sank long ago or went to scrap. But that was no time to ask nosy questions with the insurance investigators lurking around. Supposedly these guys were nautical engineers and had the expertise to know what they were seeing. Lloyds had spent a good bit chartering a plane to get these guys, maybe even from England, at least from the West Coast U.S., to fly out from Honolulu to Midway. It was expensive for the Navy to have a few thousand people living out there on desalinated water and living on logistic flights bringing in the food and mail. I was a costly enlisted guy living in a barracks with plywood walls. Luckily Navy food was good, or I thought so, three meals a day. We even went deep sea fishing, for a fee, and our warrant officer's wife made sashimi out of it, my first. How fine was that? I caught a mighty nine-pound yellow fin, and another kid caught a sixty pound wahoo.
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
36,083
37,141
I saw the movie "Woodstock" on the mess deck of the minesweeper U.S.S. Gallant, MSO 489, I think it was in port at Subic Bay Philippines. I thought some of the senior enlisted guys, the chiefs and such, would boo it down big time, but people were stoical. The strange dichotomy within society was like a distant phenomenon. The old salts certainly understood getting stoned (on booze) and pursuing girls, so that part wasn't irritating. It was a strange time. The gunners mate was thought to be on pills, and a sailor called Ditty was always playing the latest rock album. I was on the ship for about a year before I went to Midway Island.
 

Jedgar

Member
Dec 29, 2020
213
303
I saw the movie "Woodstock" on the mess deck of the minesweeper U.S.S. Gallant, MSO 489, I think it was in port at Subic Bay Philippines. I thought some of the senior enlisted guys, the chiefs and such, would boo it down big time, but people were stoical. The strange dichotomy within society was like a distant phenomenon. The old salts certainly understood getting stoned (on booze) and pursuing girls, so that part wasn't irritating. It was a strange time. The gunners mate was thought to be on pills, and a sailor called Ditty was always playing the latest rock album. I was on the ship for about a year before I went to Midway Island.
Non Sibi Sed Patriae .
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
36,083
37,141
A difficult call. But that's life. Difficult choices in hard situations. One hell of an adventure as it turned out, but that's the selfish part.