All About Trey

Life, Travel, Adventure

Navy Leadership Part II

After about 10 months of daily abuse for the never ending battle against rust, or the problems with lead based paints, or the anchor, or the ship’s boat, or whatever, I was finally relieved as First Lieutenant. I had taken the ship through the final stage of overhaul, ship trials, and two major inspections, so I was rewarded with a new job in the Combat Systems Department. I was going to be the new Missile Officer. Which was perfect, so I went from one high visibility job, to another. All of the missiles had been offloaded prior to the overhaul, so now we needed to reload. Add to the fact that the previous Missile Officer had messed up the requisition and that we were in Hawaii (the end of a very long supply chain), it was a hassle. But I could deal with it. Sort of.

That summer coming out of overhaul, we participated in various fleet exercises including RIMPAC. RIMPAC is a multi-national exercise that includes the navies of several of our allies that rim the Pacific, to include Japan, Australia, and that year I think Singapore. Since the USS Reeves had previously been stationed in Japan, we got assigned to the Japanese battle group for the exercise. The only US ship in the battle group, we were sent out on point, very far south in the OpArea where there was basically no one around. We were definitely out of the ship traffic lanes and we would go days without seeing any merchant ships.

The problem is that for the exercise, the Captain had assigned three officers to each bridge watch. There was the Officer of the Deck, Junior Officer of the Deck, and then the Junior Officer of the Watch. The Junior Officer of the Watch was pretty much the flunky of the bridge team and got stuck riding the radar console, doing mo-boards during maneuvering drills, or breaking communication signals during the exercises. So it’s not like you were bored when there was stuff was going on. But when you are the edge of no where and not really involved in the exercise, it got boring. Quickly.

One day while the bridge team was sort of slacking off and just shooting the sh!t, the Captain came out onto the bridge. “The Captain’s on the Bridge” the Bosun announced. I went to go look at the radar while the Captain got up in his chair and looked out the window. It was a bright sunny day and there was nothing around but miles and miles of deep blue water. After a few minutes of fiddling with his papers, he turned and looked at me and said, “What do you do now LT R?” I was sort of confused by the question. I had been missile officer for a little over a month now, he surely couldn’t mean that. But I couldn’t think of a better answer, so I said, “I’m the Missile Officer now.” And that Captain smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to need to check out the missile magazine. I haven’t had a piece of your sweet ass in quite a while.” He chuckled. Picked up his papers, and went into his at-sea cabin. “The Captain’s left the bridge” the Bosun announced to an oddly quiet bridge. No one said a word and everyone was looking at me. It was awful. To break the silence, I laughed and said, “He likes me, He really likes me.” A bad Sally Field impression, but it was all I had. Everyone laughed, but it wasn’t really that funny.

At the end of the watch, I ended up going down to the mess deck to eat lunch. An officer has to “sample” the mess every day to ensure the enlisted guys food is decent. And to be honest it was usually better than what we ate. But I got a tray of food and sat down on the mess decks to eat when one of my old M division guys sits down next to me. I asked him how it’s going. Not bad he replies. And then he says, “So how’s that sweet ass?” I paused, fork in mid air, and looked at him coldly. “I’m sure Petty Officer Second Class X that I must have mis-understood your question. Would you like to think about how you would re-phrase a question like that to an officer.” My voice may have been a bit louder than I thought because all of a sudden it was very quiet on the mess decks. Very quiet. Yes the tale of my little incident with the Captain must have gone from the bridge, into Combat, and then to the rest of the ship in record time. If the snipes had heard the story already, everyone must know about it. Great. Nothing like being known as the Captain’s bitch. I still caught a lot of sh!t in the wardroom, but after awhile most of the crew forgot about it. I think.