Good node, Wharfinger
, I forgot about that term.
As an 11-year US Navy disabled veteran, I have run across a gaggle of Sea Lawyers. In addition to Wharfingers definition, there are those who have opinions concerning how the Navy does things, and the only way to do things right is this narrow Navy way. I had people tell me things like I could not get an advanced electronics school because I was going to shore duty (I did get the AVI-C7 Avionics school because I had to do the work myself to make the arrangements). Rather than attempt to do their job, the Sea Lawyer will use any excuse to avoid doing something that will either:
(a) Make them look like they're (God forbid) doing their job.
(b) Get them noticed by any officer. Getting noticed may force them to start doing the work they were assigned to accomplish.
(c) Get them noticed by someone outside of the command.
(d) Get them in trouble.
Sea Lawyers also can tell you how to do anything. A lowly Seaman once told me I was not removing the engine on an SH-60B helicopter correctly. He was a 2-month salty E-2, I was an E-5 with 6 years in at the time. Funny thing was I was an avionics (aviation electronics) technician, and I was removing a gyro from the nosebay of the helicopter. He thought the engine was in there, as if it were a car.
Sea Lawyers get very lonely very quickly. Everyone avoids them, even during shore leave. Nobody likes a smart-ass know-it-all, but they think it makes them appear important. By the time they are an E-5 (Petty Officer 2nd Class), they have outgrown this handicap. Some still retain their anal-retentive self-proclaimed expert-of-all-trades. Two that I knew became limited-duty officers, and one of them treated all enlisted personnel like personal servants. He would tell everyone how to do things "the Navy way". I would get calls to go out to the helicopter so I could fix the radios. He forgot to plug in his helmet, but would tell me that it wasn't working in the first place (it was working fine five minutes earlier). On one cruise he brought his bicycle (on a small ship). I don't know where he was going to ride it, but he ordered us to stow it for him. We hung it from the ceiling. When we pulled into Bahrain, he wanted the bike. We gave him a knife and told him to cut the rope. He didn't realize that it was suspended, and it fell the equivalent of 2.5 stories. The rims were very wobbly for some reason, and it was unusable. He stopped being a sea lawyer to the guys and hid in the officers mess after that incident.
If you call someone in the Navy a Sea Lawyer, either say it in a friendly joking voice or expect to defend yourself.