Time: Far into the future.Given that it has been so long since I last was on a Navy ship, I have to wonder why that dream came up.
Place: Aboard an unnamed DDG, far out at sea.
One of my nephews/nieces is an officer on the ship. The ship was doing a Tiger Cruise on the way back from her deployment. I was invited to go and I did. My relative had proudly informed the rest of the wardroom, before I got there, that I had been an engineer back in the steam Navy.
So one day, the XO pulls me aside and says: "Look, the Captain wants to hold an all-officers meeting tomorrow morning. You're OOD qualified, right? We're independent steaming, do you mind taking the watch for an hour or so?"
I allowed that while yes, I had been OOD qualified, I knew nothing of the ship. But she assured me that she'd personally make sure that the enlisted Bridge and CIC watchstanders for my watch would be the best-of-the-best. And I should feel free to go spend some time on the Bridge to get familiar with things.
Of course, the Bridge was, to my old eyes, a confusing array of computerized gear. Hell, the helmsman sat at a console, which was heresy back in my day.
On the appointed morning, I went up there, only to find out that I was going to have both the Deck and the Conn. No big deal, independent steaming, and no planned course changes for three days. I took the watch and mostly tried to amuse myself by having the Quartermaster of the Watch show me how all of the computerized shit really worked.
Two hours into the watch, the word came up: "Man overboard, port side!"
I yelled out: "Left full rudder, all ahead Flank II, set maneuvering combination! Combat, Bridge, mark position! Boats, pass the word: 'Man overboard, man the boats. All hands not involved to quarters, submit muster reports to the XO on the Bridge.'" The ship by then had turned about fifty degrees off its original course, I ordered: "Shift your rudder!" Then, "Boats, pass the word: 'Commanding Officer, your presence is requested on the Bridge.'"
All over the ship, there was the sounds of doors slamming and people moving around. Combat was feeding up range and direction to the spot they marked. As the ship came around, I ordered the helmsman to steady up on the reciprocal bearing and to reduce speed to 2/3rds. I was out on starboard bridge-wing, I could see the smoke from the float thrown overboard by the After Lookout and I tried to guess how this gas-turbine pig would handle when she came closer.
That's when I heard some applause from inside the Bridge. The Captain, XO and some of the other officers were there, smiling. The XO passed the word to secure from man overboard stations.
The Captain said: "Nice job. 50 years later, you still got it."
The first word through my mind was: "Asshole".
See WESTPAC from the Chinese Shore
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