At the ConDor XXVI convention in San Diego I attended a talk on Space Navies and Space Marines.

During the talk they got off on the subject of traditions. I felt that one thing they missed is traditions are kept because they are useful.

There’s a simple tradition on board U. S. Navy ships when a rover (a sailor that patrols the ship) hands his weapon to his relief. Although his weapon may be unloaded he never points it at his relief who’s standing in front of him. The sailor going off watch unloads the weapon, checks to see it’s unloaded. Returns it to his holster and then hands the holstered weapon to the his relief.

And yes there have been people shot because they skipped a step. The relief belts on the holster and then repeats the checking of the weapon. There are no bands playing, but this tradition is written into the books.

Other traditions such as ringing the bell to mark time may date from when sailors could not afford a watch and could not read one. You stand a four hour watch and studies have shown that after four hours your efficiency falls way off.

The general discussion was will future space ships be structured like Navy ships or like airplanes. After working for the U. S. Navy there is no doubt that space ships will be structured like Navy ships. Airplanes do not stay in the air for weeks or months at a time. If a light bulb goes out on an airplane the pilot does without till he can land and someone on the ground replaces it. If a light bulb goes out on a ship a sailor requisitions one out of ship’s supply (it’s usually hidden somewhere under a deck plate) and replaces it. A Navy ship carries replacement parts, even a big bomber aircraft does not. A navy ship has sailors on board to repair things, an aircraft does not. If you break down in space you have to fix your craft, or it’s a long wait for a tow truck.

A space craft has to carry as little as possible to save weight (mass). If the person who calculates what could break during a mission to determine what spares a craft should carry and they miscalculate the crew on the ship could die.

It’s called logistics and logistics saves lives.

There will be checklist for everything. In space one mistake and it will kill you. Now and in the future you will have a virtual assistant to make sure you do your checklist and watch you do it. Checklist will be the new tradition.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage