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30 April 2015

Things My Recruiter Didn’t Tell Me: How to Survive “Cranking”

This will be the first of hopefully many posts on “Things My Recruiter Didn’t Tell Me.” These posts will be about stuff you may want to know about that the recruiter probably won’t/didn’t tell you.    

How to Survive “Cranking”

When I joined the Navy everyone told me including my recruiter “If you have the chance go to a ship first do it.  You will learn a lot and advance quicker.”  That advice turned out to be very true. My first and second commands were ships and I prospered, I learned my rating and advanced very fast.  After a few months at my first shore duty I put on First Class Petty Officer.  In only 6 years I had advance from E1 to E6 I attribute that to going to a ship first.

What they didn’t tell me about being going to a ship was that I would go Cranking.  I had no idea what Cranking was, even after my first couple weeks on the big deck amphib I was oblivious to what Cranking really was. 

So what is Cranking? 

Cranking or Mess-Cranking is a time that non-rated or on my ship E-4 and below “Give back to the ship” by working in the galley cooking, cleaning, moving boxes, basically anything needed by the CS’s (Culinary Specialists or Ship Cooks).  The timeframe you cranked was 120 days (will vary ship to ship but by instruction not more than 120 days).  The hours we had when I was cranking depended on if we were in port of underway.   in port we had early days 0430 to 1730 or late days 0600 to 2000.  When we were underway it was 0500 to whenever everything was done.  Since you had crew on the sheep on weekends we had to work to.  So a rotation was supposed to give you every other weekend off.  The problem was the ship didn’t adjust the weekend rotation if you happened to be underway on your weekend “to bad so sad get back to work.”  I cranked for 119 days and only had 2 weekends off because we were underway every other week.

How to Survive the Grinding Life of a Cranking?

1.       Show up in a sharp uniform.  When I went cranking they were going to put me in the main mess but when I showed up to check-in with the Food Service Officer saw me and told the CS1  “He is squared away, put him in the Wardroom.”  Working in the wardroom or officers mess was higher profile and I managed to get a FLOC out of it.
2.       Beast it the first month.  When you start really give 150%, be the first volunteer for the hard jobs, clean deeper than expected, be all you can be (90s army theme).  Believe me it will pay off the CS’s will love you, and will give you first dibs when a good opportunity come available.  They will trust you and stay off your back making the rest of your cranking time better.

3.       Get sleep when you can.  Don’t stay up to 0200 and playing video games when you have to be awake at 0400.  Not only will you be less productive but you will get very fatigued.
4.       Visit your division.  When cranking it is easy to be forgotten by your division.  You need to maintain that connection.  Try to visit them whenever you get a chance and bring them cookies (I mean it bring cookies).  That will make sure you stay connected to the division and stay up-to-date with what is happening in the shop making it easier to rejoin them when you are done cranking.
5.        Network, Network, Network.  There will be people from every rating/shop cranking with you.  Make sure to make a connection with them (including the CS’s).  After you are done cranking the connections you’ve made will help you when it comes time to get ESWS or other qualifications.  Some of my best friends in the military now I cranked with
6.       Communicate.  Sometimes cranking can be stressful and can really piss you off.  Let the CS’s know if you are having a hard time see if they will give you 5 minutes to cool down.  For the most part the CS’s are not trying to make your life miserable it is just the nature of the job. 

7.       Talk to your chain of command.  Sometimes it only seems like something is bullshit and sometime it really is BS.  If it gets bad and you feel you’re getting unfairly treated let your  division LPO know.  Most of the time your LPO will know a CS LPO and be able to fix the problem.

8.       Have fun.  It does not have to be all work and no play.  Find ways to make the time better if allowed play music, make games out of tasks.  When I was cranking we had a whiteboard and we would draw cartoons on it every day and it actually was something that became expected of us by the CO.
In the end cranking will be only a small fraction of your career and all the connections you made, trials you passed and skills you gained from cranking will help you pass the harder trials that inevitable will come in your career.  

If you have any questions let me know in the comments bellow and I will get back to you.

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  1. Cranking sucks! You are basically a slave to the cooks. You do their job for them: wash their dishes, clean decks, load stores, CLEAN everything, while they sit around and do paperwork and kiss the crew member's asses. Cooks make me sick to this day!

  2. You’ve got some interesting points in this article. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!. Recruiter agency


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