Work can be monotonous for junior sailors who spend their days cleaning, cranking, and painting. The trick is to make the best of it, so we asked seasoned sailors from the Submarine Bubblehead Brotherhood and US Navy Veteran Facebook groups for their advice on how to avoid working without getting caught — better known in the fleet as “skating.”
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There’s an art to skating. As one sailor from the Bubblehead Brotherhood put it, “Many people think that skating is merely a lazy man’s forte. But few fail to realize its complexity as a whole. To skate is to be a good actor, good talker, and well-liked among divisions.”
Take it from the pros; here are nine tips for skating:
1. Volunteer to go on a run for the division
Runs involve going for snacks, supplies, or other LPO-type errands. The key here is to take your time. Turn it into a half-day event, go to the NEX, the barracks, or anywhere you want, but avoid looking suspicious.
2. Hide in plain sight with cleaning materials
If you look busy, no one will bother you. Always have a cleaning item on hand and pull it out when someone of a higher rank approaches. Here’s how it worked for one sailor:
3. Sit in a stall in the head
Go to the head and take your time. It also pays to know the cleaning schedule. You can spend half the day rotating through different heads.
4. Volunteer for a dreaded task or one that requires little supervision
This works best with a task that you don’t mind doing. This plane captain will probably clean the same spot for 30 minutes before moving to another spot.
5. Walk around the ship with a worried look while holding a clipboard.
The key to skating with a clipboard is your facial expression. Always look focused, worried, or angry. Nobody will want to get involved in whatever you’re dealing with.
6. Chase the signature
In order to stand watch or use a piece of equipment in the Navy, you must first get qualified. Earning your qualification requires that another qualified sailor give you a tutorial on the peace of gear. You can be “Joe Navy” and have your qualification in a couple of days, or you can drag this out by asking for the tutorial at the wrong time. When asked for the status of your qualification, no one can deny that you weren’t trying.
7. Leave an extra cover and set of keys on the desk in the shop
Have a spare cover and set of keys that you keep at your desk and use the other set for leaving the shop. The spare set is to throw your shipmates off your scent. “He’s got to be here somewhere. His keys and cover are right here.”
8. Take a nap in a storage room
Get your buddy to lock you in a storage or munition room. The rooms lock from the outside, so make sure that your buddy is trustworthy, otherwise prepare to go to mast if a man-over-board is called and you miss your muster.
9. Get a wireless alert chime.
Wireless chimes are great for catching sleep during working hours. They are meant to be permanent, but you can make them mobile with Velcro tape. Place the magnetic sensors over the door or hatch and take the speaker/receiver with you away from view. The receiver will sound off when the door is opened.