Wednesday, March 18, 2020


I was just watching the video I posted below with the man who looks like a rat but never the less sang quite well as Modern English. I had a thought that I thought I would share as the virus fails to eat up the land,

My first ship was the flagship for the Middle East Force, large and white it was a ship designed purposely for amphibious warfare even if it did rescue the odd space capsule. I am now, 40 years later wondering if yes, in one of the many empty Marine berthing compartments no officer ever went to, if there was a band like Modern English jamming their way to Sunday bloody Sunday.

It was only by accident that I discovered that the First Class Petty Officers had turned one of those empty rack spaces into the First Class Petty Officer's Lounge. They were mostly good. The skipper frowned on their idea of creating a separate First Class Berthing compartment because he, like us, thought that it was the old guys that kept the young guys in check with the stupid and so they were kept in their fiefdoms to rule over the 18 year old guys that didn't know quite how to put away stuff or clean things or wash.

My ship finally came back to the US after decades abroad as both the Middle East Force Flag ship and then as Sixth Fleet Flag ship. I was invited to visit her by a friend who was deputy commodore of Military Sealift Command, Pacific,  who actually lived in the flag quarters on that ship. Some recalled reservists had it rough and were sent to Iraq, others...... well.  We went to visit him but the pier at 32nd St. had lost power and there was nothing to see there in the dark and so we left her as we remembered her in 1988 which was the previous last time I stepped aboard.

I remember my Group Maintenance Officer who was assigned Main Propulsion Assistant on that ship while it was home ported in Italy during its little stint as COMSIXTHFLT flagship and his berthing was one of the little holes engineering department spares compartments were stored in just off the lower vehicle deck. He told me that my staterooms where I had lived were graced by captains and colonels. I'm having trouble seeing either in a bunk bed.

I was lucky to have just the 2 star onboard back then when the Chief of Staff was a mere captain who once phoned me on the quarterdeck one day in Port Manama and enquired if God had come aboard. Yes gentle readers, the Petty Officer of the Watch had rung 10 bells at noon and the whole ship heard it. Sarcastic captains are best avoided by new-to-the-fleet Ensigns. I shudder to think what a 3 star's COS would have to say.

One of the treasures of serving the fleet was finding old friends in new places. When I reported to NAVCENT in 96 it was to find myself working for my old CO who was now OPS as a senior captain who last had been seen as a LCDR CO of a mine sweeper. His deputy and I used to drink beers together at the Admiral Kidd Club where my little mine sweeper used to tie up at night. I think they were the only two LANTFLT sailors I ever met abroad other than the LaSalle crew.

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