Is there any privacy aboard a Navy ship?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 25, 2020 01:57 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 25, 2020 01:57 PM

Yes there can be privacy aboard ship, with a little ingenuity its not hard to find.

I have served on several types of ships from Destroyers to Big Deck Amphibs, from Frigates to Carriers. Some quite old and some brand new. Whether I was an E-1 or an E-8, I have managed to find privacy.

Several people have mentioned it depends on your rank. I have a counter-view for that. Senior sailors can actually have a harder time finding privacy. Even the CO. Why is this? Well it has to do with being in-demand. The CO is constantly being called. Some SOPA’s (Senior Officer Present Afloat) will have standing orders that include a CO’s Cabin Door being always unlocked while occupied. Other senior officers and enlisted sailors have the same problem. I find it difficult to get away. I have a Saber Radio on me at Sea 24/7 and in-port during workings hours. Something is always going on. At one point during a post-deployment shakeup, I was the Senior Enlisted aboard a carrier. I was an acting Command Senior Chief, since there were no Master Chiefs at the command and I was the senior. That meant I got a stateroom. For nearly 2 months whenever I slept in that stateroom I never got more than an hour of sleep. Between the radio, the phone and sailors banging on my door it was just impossible. There was no where for me to hide, still isn’t actually. I have several office spaces. As the Department LCPO I can hang in any of the Division Offices or the Department Office. I can hang in the Chiefs Mess, or in the Chiefs Berthing. There are always tons of people in all those spaces. More often than not, if I wanna get away, I go where my junior enlisted sailors hang out. Our Bosun Locker has several couches and lazy-boy chairs. Our Boat Locker, same thing. Big TVs, PlayStation and Blu-ray players to boot. Sometimes privacy isn’t being by yourself, being with the ‘boys’ is just as good.

When I was a junior enlisted E-1 prick however I had skating down to an art. Fan rooms, store rooms, paint lockers, gear lockers, line lockers, empty racks in unmanned berthings. Hell I even hijacked officer staterooms a few times. My first ship during watch on the bridge, we would rotate through Messenger of the Watch and sleep in small foul weather gear lockers inside the pilot house and simply cover ourselves with the rain gear. These are nothing but big tool boxes mounted on the deck of the bridge wing. Another ship I was on, an older Gator Freighter, we cut a hole in the Bosun Locker into a Void and hung up a Cargo Net as a makeshift hammock. Yet another ship I was on we had installed padding we stole from somewhere, in the angle irons above the helo hanger. We even installed cargo straps to ensure we wouldn’t fall out if the ship rocked too much. Most of these spaces had a ready supply of porno mags. On ships I was on with boats that had cabins, those were obvious hideaways. I even slept in the flight deck nets on destroyers and FFGs, its not for the faint of heart especially if you wake up and look down. I even slept in the helo control tower using the Man Overboard Dummy as a bed. His name was Oscar and we were close!

I always found my rack to be quite private. Berthings are always full of ambient noise, like air vents and the water rushing over the hull. Even with just a simple curtain its not bad. Enterprising sailors will double up their curtains with blankets. With the noise and steady rocking, I always slept like a baby. In fact I don’t sleep well if I don’t have those conditions.

Mudassir Ali
- Feb 25, 2020 01:57 PM

Is there any privacy aboard a Navy ship?

In my six years as an enlisted man serving on four ships, attending an “A” school, and some temporary Master at Arms duty at a Naval Station, the simple answer is that privacy, especially aboard naval vessels, was slim to none.

Now, that may have changed since I was discharged, but the only privacy that I remember was on three of the four ships where our “racks” were more like shelves stacked three high. If you wanted the illusion of privacy, you installed a curtain that you could close for at least visual privacy. On the fourth ship, the racks were still stacked three high, but they were attached to chains, so there was NO privacy whatsoever.

Before curtains

With curtains…

In another answer, Lieutenant Commander Pearce implied that officers only have privacy in the shower. Lucky officers. Enlisted don’t even have privacy there.

And, of course, submariners, have “hot racks” where multiple sailors share the same rack. When one’s on watch, the other is using the rack.

Mudassir Ali
- Feb 25, 2020 01:58 PM

Is there any privacy aboard a Navy ship?

Depends on what you mean by “privacy”.

Our shitter stalls had doors, but you could see underneath. And some guys thought it was funny to surprise each other from above the stall bulkhead.

Our showers had opaque curtains.

Our racks had curtains, too.

I’ve been on some older ships (not stationed there), where this wasn’t the case. Open toilets, communal showers, bunks stacked 5 high. Not really the norm anymore, though.

I was in a division that ran the repair lockers, and we also had a few store rooms. If we needed a bit of me time, either for a nap, or someplace quiet for reading, or whatever, those places were usually out of the way. I could get a 3 hour nap undisturbed.

Of course, not every division has that, but with some incentives, one might find another sailor willing to provide an unoccupied space for quiet time. I often got my division guys underway satellite phone calls, cans of coffee, unscheduled qual training, or even expedited supply approvals in exchange for alone time, no questions asked.

While there’s not a lot of privacy, especially underway, there are ways to get some when needed.

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