We were on duty for two more years before we were ordered to port. I thought this was going to be another 6 month vacation, I was wrong. We had a two week furlough, Commander Benton had to report to head quarters. He told me to stay close to the port and that meant Billy also. Mom and dad did come to see us but they only stayed 5 days before heading home.
“Colin, there is that newly designed ship, it looks awesome. I’d like to serve on her. I wonder who the Captain will be.”
On the 7th day of our furlough, Commander Benton showed up. “Sir, have you seen the new ship. It’s a beauty.”
“Yes, Lieutenant Commander, what do you say about checking her out, you also Lieutenant Wilton.”
“Lead the way Commander.” I looked at Billy and he was smiling.
We followed the Commander and had to show our papers before the guard would let us on the ship.
“This must be a special ship to have to guard it like they are. Usually being in uniform was sufficient to board a ship.”
We walked all over the ship, it was a beauty. The Commander led us to the bridge. There was a Sergeant on the bridge. Commander Benton showed him his id, the Sergeant saluted and handed him his papers. This was unusual. “Sir, is there a problem.”
“No, Commander, there’s no problem.”
It was Billy who picked up on the name. He mouthed the work Commander. I looked at the Commander, he was all smiles.”
“Commander, take Lieutenant Commander Wilton with you and find your cabins. Your new uniforms will be there.”
We walked off the bridge and then ran to find our quarters. I was with Billy when he put on his new uniform. I had a special way of congratulating him for his promotion. Then we went to my cabin and he reciprocated while I was putting on my new uniform.
We still didn’t have the full picture, so we decided to go and check out the various departments. We headed to engineering, then the medical area followed by the kitchen. We checked out theliving quarters for the crews, then the library, which for us was the most important place.
“You know, I think this ship will be a ship of the Admiralty."
“That would mean an Admiral will be assigned.”
“Yes, you know that large room we saw, you said it looked like a board room with the table and chairs all around it. I’ll bet that’ll be the room where we’ll get our orders from theAdmiral.”
“Make sure you are familiar with the ship, we’ll be receiving crew tomorrow at 0600. Commander, you will be in charge of checking them on board, Lieutenant you will escort them to their assigned areas. The cooking staff will be here at 0530 to begin the preparation of breakfast.”
The deck contained beside the bridge, Captain’s quarters as well as quarters for the Commanders and a small room, the Captain’s briefing room.
The deck below the top deck contained the cooking crew and the medical crew as well as quarters for the Lieutenant Commander, Lieutenants and the Library.
The next two decks contained the quarters for Engineering, the crew and boys assigned to the ship.
The bottom two decks held storage and waste storage.
It took us 6 hours to cover the whole ship, “Billy, I can’t believe how large this ship is. It has to be the largest ship in the fleet. I wonder how fast it goes.”
“I think we’ll find out soon. I like the library with the cubicles instead of just tables. I’m going to draw out the layout so I can give a copy to the men. I don’t think we want them roaming around.”
“Good idea, Billy, you know when we’re in the company of others I'll have to refer to you as Lieutenant Commander. But when we’re alone, you’re still my Billy.”
“I know Colin, we must maintain order.”
We walked the ship one more time, Billy made sketches.I knew he’d take the time to redraw them and make copies.
I looked over the staffing for the ship. I saw there would be the Admiral, Captain, 4 Commanders, 4 Lieutenant Commanders, 12 Lieutenants plus regular sailors and boys. All in all there would be over 1000 people on board. “Billy, we need to check to make sure we’re equipped to handle the total complement of 1000 people on board.”
Once Billy had the ships layout finished, we started to check for quarters. The problem wouldn’t be staff but the non-staff personnel including the Ship Boys.
“We need to make sure we have enough berths.”
“Sir, the Captain would like to see you.”
“Who was that?”
“He’s one of the security detail assigned to the ship while she’s in port. I better go and see what the Captain wants.”
“Sir, Commander Stewart reporting as requested, Sir.”
“Commander, I have just receivedinstructions from the Admiralty. You are being promoted to Captain.”
“Sir, if I may ask, are you leaving the ship?”
“No, since this will be an Admiralty ship, I’ve been promoted to Commodore. As Captain you can tell Lieutenant Commander Wilton he’s being promoted to Commander. You should know these promotions do not correspond to the normal time frame for promotions. You can thank your scholastic achievements for these promotions. Captain Martin was responsible for putting your names on the list of fast trackers. Let’s say that studying and excelling in your studies has paid off, Captain.”
“Colin, why did the Captain want to see you.”
“We are being re-assigned”
The look on Billy’s face caused me to laugh. “Billy, you are being promoted to Commander. The Captain is being promoted to Commodore, since there will be an Admiral on board. We’ll have a new Captain.”
“Do I know him?"
“Yes, very well, more than any other person.”
“You are….You got a promotion to Captain.”
Billy was very happy, I don’t think there’s a jealous bone in his body.
“Billy, these promotions we have are outside of the norm. Do you remember Captain Martin?He’s responsible for our promotions. According to what the Captain, I mean the Commodore,said, he was responsible for making the Admiralty aware of our scholastic achievements.”
“I always heard education pays off, I guess it’s true.”
“Are you ready for tomorrow?”
“Yes, good, let’s go and get something to eat and hit the sack. Wait a minute.”
“Commodore, we’re going to get something to eat. Would you care to join us?”
“Thanks Captain, it’d be my pleasure since we don’t have a cook yet.”
We left the ship, there were several bars/taverns close to the port but I didn’t like frequenting those places. “Let’s try a little further from the port. These places are mostly gin bars with fast food. I’d like a nice dinner, how abut you guys?”
“Suits me. I’m not much for drinking.”
“Billy, lead the way.”
“Aye, aye, Captain”
We laughed as we saw a restaurant a few blocks over. Walking into the place, I noticed it was very clean and the smells woke up my appetite. Their were smiles on our faces as we were seated. Our hostess suggested the ‘dine du jour.’ I went for it, Billy took the chicken and the Commodore ordered a steak. We sat their for two hours having a leisure dinner. The food was good and plentiful.
Arriving back on the ship, “Sir, we’re going to turn in 0400 comes very early.” Billy and I needed to spend a few minutes together before sacking out.
Normally, I would be reluctant to get out of bed at 0400, but not today. The ship’s crew is due to arrive and it was my responsibility to welcome them aboard. Billy will show them to their quarters while I signed them on. We saw the cooks before they saw us. Billy smiled, he knew breakfast is only a few hours away.
The Lieutenant Commander, who was in charge of the kitchens, signed first followed by his crew. Billy showed them to the mess hall and they took it from there. A few of the Ship Boys signed on and Billy showed them where to stow their gear. I asked them to report back to assist Billy and I. The next group were the engineering followed by the medical groups. Over the next several hours, the various staff signed in followed by a bevy of Ship Boys and non-commissioned personal.
The last to arrive was the Admiral, we were surprised. It was our first Captain, now an Admiral. “Welcome aboard, Admiral Martin.”
“As you were Captain. I need to have someone show me my quarters.”
“Yes, Sir, Commander Wilton will show you.”
Billy came up and saluted the Admiral, “Follow me Sir.”One of the men with him picked up his luggage and followed after them as they went toward the bridge.
‘“Attention all personal, breakfast will be served in the appropriate mess halls beginning at 0700.”
There were two staff mess halls and three non-staff mess halls. The mess hall closest to the bridge was for senior officers and the mess hall next to that one was for junior officers.
After breakfast, a general conference was called, this included all officers from Lieutenant Commander to the Commodore.As senior officers entered the room, junior officers stood, until the Commodore stated that it was unnecessary to stand and salute for each officer. However, when the Admiral entered, he was the last one, we all stood and saluted.
“Gentlemen, we’ll set sail at 2100 hours today. Our mission is to uncover smuggling operations along the East coast of the Americas from the southern polar regions to the northern regions. Most of our movement will be at night. This ship is practically unseen at night and can only be seen with infrared light. We will depart tonight at 2100 hours and begin our search and seizure activities.”