Messman on HMCS Ojibwa
One of the assigned tasks aboard HMCS Ojibwa was that of Messman. Unlike her siblings, Onondaga and Okanagan, there was no dedicated cafeteria-like space on Ojibwa. Submariners ate in their Mess where they also slept or spent their spare time. To complicate things further, the galley was located in a very small space just aft of the Control Room removed from the Mess areas of the boat. To accommodate the restricted space of the galley, each Mess area had a sink where the dishes could be washed before returning the plates to the galley and the utensils to a drawer near the sink. The only dishes washed in the Galley were those used to produce the meals.
Retired Chief Engine Room Artificer, Gilles Poirier, answered some of our questions about the role of the Messman and meal time on a submarine.
'Sea Daddy' Gilles Poirier on Messman
The Messman had to take your order, since there was always two choices, usually there was a menu board in the mess. So the Messman for the junior rates and the messman for the senior rates had to pick up what was ordered.
He sure is, unless you picked up your order yourself, some people preferred to pick their own stuff, maybe get a little extra above and beyond your ration.
No, one was quite enough.
It depended a lot on the Cox’n, some would be for the trip, could be also for a month. Let us get something straight, a Steward was a trade; the Steward was actually the Captain’s valet, but as a rule, served the bun house only (Wardroom) the other messmen were of various trades.
It depended on the watch system, in two watch system half the crew would get fed while the other half was still on watch, in the 3 watch system, there was an early lunch for the afternoon watch men, usually at 1130, then, at 1200, the rest could eat. Very few people did not stand watches, the Cox’n (like Jim Gordon) and the CERA (like me).
As a rule, the mess man did the dishes, since all the plates had to go back to the galley, plus there was not really enough room in the garbage ejector space sink for two people.