Ten years ago I served on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship “Fort George”. This type of vessel was configured to carry a cargo of ammunition, fuels which included diesel and aviation spirit (Avcat), and dry stores. There was no smoking allowed on the open decks for the obvious reason that there could be pockets of inflammable gases.
That last bit always had me slightly bemused as the ship’s original fit was to have included a vertical launch anti air, missile system situated in the middle of the ship (The silo is still there, they just ran out of money). Imagine firing a metre long projectile with a white hot tail of incandescent gas smack bang through the ship’s gas envelope. If you were the enemy you’d only need to pretend to attack. Your target would self destruct for you.
I digress.The then smoking rules allowed you to smoke anywhere inside the Accommodation, Office areas, the Bridge and the MCR (Machinery Control Room).
Slowly but insidiously change happened. Firstly smoking in multiple occupancy offices were banned. Next came a ban on smoking in alleyways, and the MCR and the Bridge. After that smoking in bars was outlawed if food was served. FFS, that was snuck in because we had packets of crisps on sale.
And finally we were not allowed to smoke in our own cabins in case the steward sued over passive smoking. (Yes, Officers still had stewards). That was the final straw for me. I could have worked on, but instead I thought Sod you and retired. (Which I don’t regret as the march of regulation was bordering on the farcical).
The point of this post is, If you remember my first paragraph about no smoking on deck, you’ll be as bemused as me that the only place where smoking is allowed now, is a designated area on the open deck.
What really pisses me off is that in all the conflicts I’ve been involved in, (Aden, the Falklands, Gulf wars one and two and Angola) passive smoking would be the last thing on anyone’s mind.
But Hey, we live in a world of irrational fear.
In a nut shell political correctness trumps health and safety.
*Lights up ciggy*