Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 06:07:20 -0400
From: Steve Harper
Subject: Re: Navy expression

A friend who was on submarines in the 60s sends the following:

From: "Ran Cox"
To: "Steve Harper"
Subject: Re: Navy expression
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 19:12:00 -0400
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Internet Mail 4.70.1155

A steady strain applies to one line while an even or balanced strain would apply
to two or more lines. For example, we had four lines, bow (number one), stern
(number four) and spring lines (numbers two and three). The spring lines were
crossed to minimize movement parallel to the dock, while bow and stern lines
restrict movement away from the dock. An even strain on the spring lines and
the bow and stern lines was taken.

A steady strain also is taken on lines. A slack line (one with no strain) tends
to pop the instant all slack or excess is taken up. Slack in a line allows
whatever object it was supposed to be securing to build momentum until the
instant all slack is exhausted--then must instantly stop tons (often tens of
thousands of tons) or break. The latter tends to be more probable, so taking a
steady strain makes the momentum work in the line's favor.

One of the biggest reasons a steady strain is so close to the hearts of line
handlers is that a one-, two- or more-inch line that "pops" tends to act on
line handlers like thick rubber bands do when shooting flies. When a nautical
type tells someone to take up the slack (applied to attitude), it is a much
more severe statement than might be imagined.

Senator McCain definitely meant and did keep a steady strain. Well done, Sir.
> From: Steve Harper
> Subject: Navy expression
> Date: Sunday, April 26, 1998 12:11 PM
> Any thoughts?
> >
> >

At 14:02 4/25/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Can ADSers who are fmr Navy help with question of naval usage? TIME April
>13 p. 62 col. 1 prints this:
>"'It's O.K. We knew this was going to happen,' he said calmly. 'Remember,
>steady strain. You gotta keep a steady strain.' McCain, a former Navy
>pilot, made the phrase a mantra during his 5 1/2 years as a POW in Hanoi."
>Is this accurate? I seem to recall hearing "take an even strain" but then I
>was in the wrong branch of service, with no rope-handling experience at
>all. Went flipping through Wouk's "Caine Mutiny" but haven't found it yet.
>Bernie Kane
>ex-Army dogface '42-'45