At the end of our tour, I was transferred to another ship. I thought, you can move me but you can’t destroy what’s in my mind.For the first time Billy and I were separated, I didn’t like it neither did Billy.
I was assigned to patrolling the Pacific.When I looked at my orders, I realized I’d not be near a port for at least 10 years. The patrol was easy and my staff was composed of men who would retire at the end of this assignment. I’m sure the Admiralty thought this would be punishment for me, I turned it into an opportunity. Experience is the best teachers and I took advantage of it. On occasion, I saw Billy’s ship go sailing by, I’d blow our horn. Billy and I kept in contact, letters crossed every 6 months via supply boats.
After four years of being on patrol, I received orders to report to the port in Hawaii, one of the main ports among the Islands.The crew were all for it, I’m sure we made it faster than any other boat on patrol. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the men using oars.
When we pulled into our slot, I was met by a young Lieutenant who looked familiar. In chatting, I realized he was my first Cabin Boy.
“Sir, I’m to escort you to the Admiralty.”
The buildings which were occupied by the Admiralty varies from port to port. In all, there were 35 buildings around the world that the Admiralty used. Each of these buildings were staffed with Navy personnel on a full time basis. I never had the opportunity to serve in such a service which was alright by me, I prefer being on a ship to having to sit behind a desk.
“Captain, it has come to our attention that your inquiry into our new sailing vessel has uncovered the mechanism that is used to propel the ship. We are curious how you were able to determine the technology.”
“The application of that technology is new but the understanding of the technology is very old. There isn’t a boy alive who hasn’t skipped rocks in a pond or river. The concept is used in surfing. In the old days, one of the main problems when roads were wet, was planing, causing automobiles to lose control. The application of this phenomena to a ship is new and the design to achieve it is new, but the concept is old.”
"Captain, the Admiralty is concern that this technology may fall in the wrong hands. Except for the Admiralty and some of the design engineers, you’re the only person who has discovered how the ship moves. In view of that knowledge, you’re going to be reassign. Admiral Bilson, you may do the honor.”
“Captain Stewart you’re being reassign to the Sky Hawk. The Sky Hawk is the second ship based on our new technology. You’re being promoted to Admiral and you’llhave the opportunity to select your immediate staff.”
I looked at Admiral Bilson, he smiled, “The Flying Fox will be in port in one week, the Sky Hawk is in port now, waiting for their Admiral.”
My grin must have reached my ears, not only a promotion but a new ship and I get to pick my crew. My first act will be to promote one Commander to Captain. I was anxious to see Billy, it has been a long four years.
I went to check out my ship, the Sky Hawk. I walked past several docks until there it was. The sun hitting it caused the cladding to shine, it was a beautiful ship. I wonder how it differed from the Flying Fox, so I attempted to board her.I was stopped before I even put a foot on the gangway.
“I’m Admiral Stewart and I believe this is my ship.”
“I’m sorry Sir, my orders are to let no one aboard this ship.”
“I understand that Lieutenant, but perhaps these papers will change your mind.” I watched as he read my papers which clearly stated I am assigned to this ship as Admiral Stewart
“Sir, do you have proof you are Admiral Stewart.”
I showed him my id which also included my finger prints. He took my prints and compared. I watched as he read the print comparison. He looked at me, “I’m sorry Sir, I was told to trust no one.”
“Lieutenant, there’s no need to apologize. You were following your orders. Tell me Lieutenant have you ever served on a ship?”
“No Sir, but I’d like to serve on this ship. From what I have seen, this ship is a beautiful lady.”
I smiled, the Lieutenant may get his wish.
I walked the ship, it was a beauty.They had made some small improvements in the interior design. There were larger quarters for crew, the library was shortened, the staff quarters were slightly smaller allowing for more quarters. But the best sight for me was Engineering.I remembered what the Engineering looked like on my first ship and what it looked like on the Flying Fox. This was step up, the reactors were minimize which allowed the installation of two extra reactors. This meant that the ship not only could move faster but had greater movability.
Now I waited for the Flying Fox to anchor at the dock next to my ship, yes my ship.
I was housed off base. I called my parents, they were glad to hear from me and when I told them I had my own ship, they were very excited. More excited about me having my own ship than my promotion.
I spent the day and evenings on the Sky Hawk looking over resumes. I needed a crew and a staff. First I needed a staff, they could help with the crew and the Admiralty will supply a list of officers for me to choose for my staff, all I had to do was review their papers and interview them. The sailors and Ship Boys will be supplied by the Admiralty. One Lieutenant I wanted was at the end of the gangway. A person who takes his orders seriously no matter who said what, is a man I want on my ship.
I watched as the Flying Fox dock, it was a beautiful ship. The crew were the first off, followed by the officers, I saw the Captain and the Admiral. I smiled as Billy was looking at the Sky Hawk, he said something to the Admiral, the Admiral smiled and pointed to me. Billy looked, dropped his duffle bag, and ran into my arms
“Oh, sorry Admiral” stepping back and saluting.
“Billy, where’s your gear?”
“I had it right here, oh there it is.”
“Go and get it and follow me.”
“I watched as he retrieve his duffle bag, “Lead on, Sir.”
We walked to the Sky Hawk, I glanced at Billy, he looked confused. “Lieutenant, this is Captain Wilton, he’ll be the Captain on board. Captain, this is Lieutenant Shabor, he’ll be assigned to the Sky Hawk.”
I watched as they understood what I just said. Slowly a smile formed on their face, “Well, are you just going to stand there, get on board. Lieutenant, get your gear, stow it and then return to your station here. Captain, we’ll wait till the Lieutenant returns, then you can stow your gear. We have a lot to catch up on.” I laughed as the Lieutenant, picked up his duffle bag and ran to find his quarters. When he returned he was smiling, “Well Lieutenant I hope your quarters meets your approval.”
“Yes, Sir, They are just fine.”
“Good, then I’ll leave you to your duty. Who relieves you, you can’t be here 24 - 7?”
“There are three of us Sir. We work 8 hour shifts, as long as the Sky Hawk is in port.”
I nodded, I wanted to get Billy settled in. “Captain, get your gear and I’ll show you to your quarters.”
I watched Billy smile as he picked up his duffle bag. I led him to the Captain’s quarters, “Billy, I’m so glad to see you.” What happened next was like having our first time together all over again.Billy was happy, I was happy and I was so glad he didn’t forget me.
The Lieutenant sent a courier with a message from the Admiralty. “Wait, in case I want to send a reply.”
I opened the dispatch, as I read I smiled. This dispatch was a list of officers available for transfer to the Sky Hawk. “Captain, send a message to the Admiralty thanking them for the list and indicate we’ll begin interviewing at 0700 tomorrow.” I wanted to see the other personnel who were assigned to guarding the ship.
Billy and I started to review the list. There were a few people on it that we remembered serving with us on the other ships. We spent the rest of the evening, making a list for interviewing.
Billy and I slept together for the first time since we were Ship Boys. “I could get use to this.”
I was up at 0530 hours. I woke Billy, “We need to shower and get dressed.” We needed to save water, so we showered together. Going to the kitchens, we prepared our breakfast and was pleasantly joined by the Lieutenant Shabor.
“Lieutenant, has your replacement shown up already”
“Yes, Sir, He’s my friend and always comes earlier than his post time to allow me to leave before my shift ends.”
“I’d like to meet that man, Lieutenant.”
“Yes, Sir, I’ll go and get him.”
“Lieutenant, after you have had your breakfast. Not many Lieutenants have breakfast prepped by an Admiral and Captain.”
At 0700, we began our interviewing. Billy screened and I did the final interview. We interviewed till 1600 hours. By then we had interviewed several candidates for Commander, Lieutenant Commanders and Lieutenants. In addition, we interview cooking staff, medical staff and engineering staff.”
At the end of 5 days, we had our staff. Now it was up to the Admiralty to send the sailors and Ship Boys. We still had the last word, but it wasn’t often that a person was declined. I had all of the officers involved in reviewing these people. It took three more days before we were at full manning. Now we needed to make sure the ship was properly provisioned, this was the responsibility of the Lieutenant Commanders in their area of responsibility.
Fully provisioned we needed the Admiralty to give us our assignment, was it going to be the Atlantic or the Pacific. As it turned out, Admiral Benton of the Flying Fox delivered our orders, wewere assigned to the Atlantic.
“Captain, notify the crew we will sail at 0500 hours. Our assignment will be the Atlantic.”
I was ready, I walked the ship, my ship.
As we sailed south to go around the Cape, I thought about how much my life had changed since I was a Ship Boy. “Colin, what did we do to earn this?”
“A keen interest in wanting to learn, not being satisfied until we knew and could answer all of our questions. When I was reassigned from the Flying Fox, I was the Captain of a ship of the old order. The men were serving their last assignment before retirement. From them, I learned secrets and tricks that we aren’t taught from books. Only their experience could teach me what they knew. It was an education in and of itself. The Admiralty may have thought they were punishing me, but the reality was, they gave me a chance to learn from experience.”
I looked at Billy and smiled. “I love you Billy Wilton”
Colin and Billy stayed with the Flying Fox for the rest of their careers. Retiring, they moved into a house close to the sea. On a bright, warm day, you can find them sitting on their dock, looking into the horizon hoping to see the Flying Fox sail by.
Thank you for reading this story and offering your comments.