Chaplains are assigned to Navy ships to attend to the spiritual needs of the crew. While an aircraft carrier may have 4 or 5 chaplains, a small ship only has one chaplain. While a chaplain may be of a specific religious faith, he or she must be able to conduct services for other religions. The chaplain was also responsible for operating the ship’s library for the crew. Since there is no chapel on a small ship, the chaplain held religious services in the library. Everyday a call would sound over the ship’s 1MC (general speaker system) for quiet about the decks while Catholic Mass was being conducted in the library.
I was the Chief Master-at-Arms on the USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7), an amphibious helicopter carrier. One of my duties was to run Captain’s Mast, which is a hearing where the ship's captain hears cases that involve minor crimes committed by crewmembers. Mast may be held anywhere there is quiet and enough room for all the participants. On the Guadalcanal, we held mast in the library. When mast was to be held, my men would move tables and chairs in the library and set it up for the mast. When mast was being held, a call would sound on the 1MC for quiet about the decks while Captain’s Mast being conducted in the library.
One afternoon, as I was walking about the ship, I heard a 1MC call for quiet about the decks while Captains’ Mast was being conducted in the ships library. I did not remembers a mast being scheduled, but since I was responsible for running the mast and I was the one who escorted the captain to the mast, I rushed to the library. As I rushed into the library, ready to chew out my men for not notifying me about the mast, found it full of people worshiping Catholic Mass. I guess I was not paying enough attention to what was said over the 1MC.