First Impressions


Carol Foss



~It had been the first time I’d seen Nelson since our Nautilus days. He’d changed. I knew that the moment I'd greeted him dockside.  A few additional frown lines were to be expected certainly and there had always been an aura about him, now, however, after we'd cleared the harbor, it permeated the room. Correction, the ‘Observation Nose’. 


I’d have to do a lot of mental corrections while I was aboard, I told myself.  What was most impressive about Seaview were her huge view ports looking all the world like something even Capt. Nemo could not improve on. Yes, surely Nelson had fun with his toy boat when he wasn’t assisting the Navy with something I had yet to learn of.


I’d been physically pulled off my command by chopper for this top secret mission, leaving behind a startled XO and an equally galled crew. Of course, they had visions of me traipsing through the jungle or behind enemy lines for some  covert operation, not taking command of Nelson’s super sub. I'm frequently drafted by  the Office of Naval Intelligence for a little covert action, sometimes against my better judgment but usually with my full cooperation. I'm good at it, and despite the risks, I find it just as exhilarating as driving a boat. Sometimes even more.

 Something was up and my  services were required again. But this was to  take command, by order of the SECNAV. But why me? Sub commanders are a dime a dozen. Surely others not currently on patrol would have been a better choice. And what was wrong with her XO? I frequently found myself as Acting Captain when I was an Executive Officer . But orders are orders. And so I found myself standing on the spiral steps looking down on my  old commander wondering what he could possibly ask me to do that he or his XO couldn’t.~


~I shouldn't have been surprised to see him hesitate in his descent, studying us in the Nose. It's a Captain thing, summing up those under his command.  It was all over the boat how he came aboard. You'd think he'd have had a bit more common sense. At  least he'd have to answer to Nelson.  And just why was it necessary to bring Crane aboard in the first place?  Wouldn’t it have been simpler just to put Morton in charge? Rumor is Crane's one of the SecNav's golden boys after some brownie points. Well, at least I won't have to deal with him as much as everyone else in the Control Room, being  safely tucked in the radio shack well out of earshot for most of the time, counting my blessings.~


                ~Well, this is going to be one long irritating cruise. Saw the new Capt. briefly on the ladder. Standing there, arrogant, aloof.  Just like the Chief and Ski  said he was. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the Admiral had a 'little talk' with him. We'll see how well he can hold up under that  kind of pressure! ~


          ~ Gawd, poor old Phillips will  be turning in his grave with Crane aboard.  Glad it's only temporary.~


        ~Wondering how O'Brien and Morton are going to be able to put up with him. I don't care what the Navy says. He's not right for Seaview at all.~


~Nelson dismissed us right after we spotted Crane on the spiral stairs. No doubt to face Nelson about his little test. Okay, so he got aboard. But still, it wasn't exactly his place as a mere temp, Captain or not.

 I'm more concerned about not knowing just what's going on. I'm also disappointed that Nelson doesn't seem think I measure up for this mission.

As for Crane, while his record is stellar, it omits the heart of the man, or lack of it. I have no reason to doubt the Chief regarding that. In any case it will be a mission to remember. ~


~I was briefing my officers, when they spied Crane atop the spiral ladder. My eyes followed suit. He'd matured of course, and his eyes spoke volumes about previous command decisions. I knew about some of those mission. He'd surpassed my expectations years ago. Suffice it to say when the SecNav said he was the best sub commander they had I was even more than agreeable to their choice.  What concerned and surprised me now that he was aboard, was how much the years in the Navy had changed him. For the worse. Lock, stock, and barrel it had apparently turned him into a no nonsense Capt. Bligh if my crew was to be believed. Even Fred Wilson had a bad taste in his mouth about him. Sadly, it looked as though this was not  the Ensign Crane I had remembered so fondly.

Too late I had to ask myself if  I wanted youthful exuberance or a gutsy commander who would accept nothing less than 100 % from his crew, the boat, even me. The answer of course was staring me in the face. He was perfect for the desperate job at hand.

Even so, I was disturbed by his boarding tactics. It certainly soured the crew about him, not to mention wounding their pride.  Naturally, I gave him my best  'I’m the boss' look as I reprimanded him for sneaking aboard like that. He didn’t bat an eyelash. And I was forced to  agree with him that he’d actually managed to get aboard. But then that grin of his after my ‘you didn’t get very far did you'.

 Yes, that grin told it all. Underneath all that Navy spit and polish I could see there was still the Lee Crane I knew. Hidden for the most part.  But still there, revealing the genuine,jovial, and compassionate officer; even  mischievous boy that he could be when given the latitude.

But this was not the time nor place for any camaraderie. For we had pressing matters to attend to. For if we failed, billions of lives around the globe would be lost. I wasn’t sure my crew would be up to it. Part of me wondered if Seaview could be.  But Crane had to be. And so I led him to my cabin to  open his sealed orders. And the fate that awaited us all. ~

Aside from Morton, Nelson, and Sparks, you'll have to use your imagination as to the officers among them in the Observation Nose having their own thoughts as well.