Letters Home ---- 2nd Mail Call

By

Lillian H

 

March 17th

 

Dear Edith,

 

Thank you for you messages of support, my dear. This was a hard mission to be sure. With too little time to grieve the loss of a valued friend and so much at stake, I tended to be more preoccupied than usual and you know what that does to my temper.

 

I had to inform Chip Morton of Johnís death by radiophone before I returned.He took the news in his usual stoic manner but he must have been shaken, they had developed a strong mutual respect for each other.

 

Johnís death was hard on us all. I still feel a residual guilt that he died protecting me. We all knew I would be their preferred target and I shouldnít have dragged him along but I thought I might need his help to assure those Washington brass-hats that Seaview could do the job on time.

 

I know the crew expected me to promote Morton to the captaincy, but I have never let myself be dictated to and donít intend to start now!I did fleetingly think because of the urgency involved a temporary appointment might be necessary and while Iím sure he would do a very efficient job, heís NOT the officer I want to permanently captain my boat!

 

Iím sorry my dear, I know that sounds harsh after all his hard work to make Seaview a reality and while I agree heís everything I could want in second officer, I must admit I find it hard to get a feel for the man.I offered him the job based on his prestigious abilities to get things done and Iíve been well rewarded with the results, but that cool detachment he wears can be exasperating Ė I like to see what my officers are feeling sometimes!

 

As good as Morton is, I have made no secret of the fact that I have always wanted just one man for Seaviewís captain and now I have him!

 

They did it Edith they finally gave him to me - I didnít even have to demand him this time, the goldbraidís finally recognised that he was the man who could make the mission a success!There were the usual negotiations to endure for his reassignment but now I have him I intend to keep him!

 

His arrival wasnít exactly as auspicious as I hoped.As if it wasnít hard enough to ready ourselves for a life or death mission, my new captain, one Lee Benjamin Crane saw fit to pull a stupid freshman stunt to announce his presence!Good grief, for years I have been campaigning for this man to be assigned to Seaview and what does he do?Sneaks aboard in the dark of night, punching out his crew and declaring them to be inadequate!!

 

I was ready to ship him right back out again but whether it was his intention or not, he managed to help the crew stop thinking about what they had lost and unite them in a common dislike - HIM!It worked well for us. Every man was so determined to prove their new captain wrong and in doing so concentrated harder on the job at hand.

 

I can see I will have to do something to curb his tendency for consistently putting himself in harmís way though.He was always inclined to disregard his own safety as a midshipman but in the intervening years he has developed and overactive sense of responsibility that leads him to the very edge of recklessness!I know his ONI training gives him superior abilities but there will be times when others can do just as well and he will have to learn that! I am not about to let him risk his life needlessly; he will have to be made to realise that the captain belongs at the helm not jeopardising his safety unnecessarily!However on this occasion his selfless bravery has also won him a certain amount of admiration amongst the crew, not least in Curley Jones and where he leads the men tend to follow.

 

At the moment I am highly entertained as I watch my two senior officers tread tactfully around each other. Their friendship may have developed over the years to one more akin to brotherhood but Mr. Morton has every right to feel aggrieved at the slight Leeís clandestine boarding implied to his stewardship of the boat.I daresay they will work it out. Morton has a slow fuse but I believe when we reach port there will be an accounting between them that will be done privately and I hope without too much physical contact. Both are headstrong in their own way but neither man will allow it to affect their duty to Seaview.

 

Others have taunted me about my devotion to a dream, Edie, but I know you always cheered me on Ė well my dear, the future I envisioned for Seaview can now begin.

 

A few easy missions for us all to adjust would be a good start.I have a few charting expeditions that are long overdue and shall set about organising the first one as soon as the repairs are completed but donít worry, my dear sister, I will be ashore for a few weeks and we will go out to the cabin and spend some time together just as you wish.

 

I will be home on the 28thÖ Iíll have someone contact you with the arrangements.

 

Love,

 

Harri.

***

March 21st

 

Admiral J Parks, Director ONI Operations, Washington.

 

Dear Sir,

 

Thank you for your message, Admiral; itís been something of a surprise to receive so many. We havenít even reached port yet and Iíve already had several messages of congratulations on my new appointment. Seems nothing stays completely confidential in the Pentagon for long unless someone slaps a Top Secret label on it!

 

It feels slightly uncomfortable to be celebrating only a few weeks after Captain Phillips death. This crew will not forget him so easily and quite possibly the unusual circumstances of my arrival will only make that more difficult for a while also.

 

Your congratulations on the success of this mission should go to Admiral Nelson and Dr Wilson. I was only following their instructions and the crew performed their duties with the expertise Admiral Nelson and Captain Phillips trained them for. As to the rescue of our stranded personnel, I felt it perfectly acceptable to take a calculated risk and go out alone to rescue Dr. Wilson and Seaman Malone. I had considered carefully what the loss of Dr Wilson would mean to the scientific community and the fact that the men of Seaview, didnít need to suffer the loss of another valuable crewmember so soon. However, even knowing all the risks involved, Chief Curley Jones insisted on accompanying me.I am formally recommending Chief Jones for special recognition of his bravery and part in the success of the mission.

 

I feel privileged that Admiral Nelson has requested me to remain as captain of Seaview and Iím grateful to you, sir, for making my release from the Navy less complicated that it might have been. I understand from Admiral Nelson that it was your influence that made the changeover go smoothly. The admiral also informed me of your one stipulation for my immediate transfer and I will of course make myself available for any missions ONI may require me for, however, I would appreciate some time to get to know Seaview and her crew better first.

 

This will be a difficult transition period for the men to make; itís never easy for a boat to lose itís senior officer while on active duty, especially when their missions have been primarily research duties but if Iím to captain this boat successfully, the admiral has recommended I take some time to acquaint myself with the men and their capabilities, something I am eager to do.

 

Iím fortunate to have the support of Admiral Nelson and the exec, Lt. Commander Morton to help me in this. As you know, sir, Commander Morton and I are old friends from Annapolis and have kept in close contact over the years. He has become the highly respected First Officer aboard Seaview, so I know I can rely on his knowledge and expertise to make the change of command go as smooth as possible.

 

I have privately held the view that Seaview is the finest vessel afloat ever since the day I managed to catch a few glimpses of her at her commissioning.Admiral Nelson has every right to be proud of his impressive achievement.*I look forward to serving aboard her.

 

Thank you again, Admiral, for your message of support, the next time Iím called to Washington, Iíll certainly be in touch, sir.

 

Yours respectfully,

 

Lee Crane.

 

 

* The Launchó UncharteredWaters.

 

***

 

March 29th

 

Dear Stan,

 

It was great to hear from you but I wish youíd give up calling me Kid! If ya canít call me Joe then call me Ski just like the guys do, okay?

 

It was good to find your letter waiting for me when we got back to base. It sure was touch and go out there for a while. What we all thought was just a routine shakedown turned out to be something Top Secret but we werenít told why till it was nearly all over!This was one dangerous mission, all right!

 

It sure was bad about Captain Phillips getting killed that way. The whole crew is real cut up about it; weíre gonna miss him a lot, he was one of the good guys and as a Skipper he was okay.We was just lucky the admiral didnít buy it at the same time.Course we all knew he was the one they mustíve been really after, tho we didnít know why back then.

 

We figured it was going to be hard the first time out without Captain Phillips but what we didnít count on was the hot shot acting captain the Navy sent us. First time I seen him heís taking a pop at me! No kidding, he sneaked aboard all quiet like, trying, he says, to test our security. Well, he didnít get very far, we caught him the minute he got below; he had no call to go punching anybody!If it werenít for the others getting in the way Iída punched his lights out for sure!Curley checked him out and it seems he was some sort of Academy boxing champion.That may be all right for some college boy but I ainít never heard of no captain in the Navy behaving like that!

 

Curley says this Crane was the youngest submarine captain in the Navy and him and Mr. Morton, were big buddies in the academy. Donít think Iíd want a buddy trying to catch me out like that!

 

The admiral didnít seem happy about it either tho he didnít blow like I thought he would, just asked him to report as soon as he got squared a way. Course I drew the duty and had to be the one to go tell him. He apologised all nice like for hitting me but I didnít buy it, he was way out of line if you ask me and he knew it!

 

We couldnít believe it when we heard the admiral had okayed it for Crane to take Captain Phillipsí place permanently, according to the scuttlebutt heís a real high flyer.The guys and me canít see why Mr. Morton didnít get command, we know him and he knows us, and Captain Phillips sure rated him! The admiral must be nuts if he thinks this is what Seaview deserves!We donít need no glory seeker as our new skipper!

 

Crane ainít no coward Iíll grant ya that, he did go out on the ice cap to help save Malone and the scientist we was carrying after they got hurt. Curley volunteered to go with him but I still ainít so sure our new skipper wasnít just grandstanding Ö he knew the admiral wasnít gonna leave them out there high and dry if he could help it, he musta reckoned on us waiting for themÖ.I mean, why would he have done that otherwise?Malone was nothing to him and that scientist obviously didnít like him, so why would he take the risk if he didnít trust the admiral to wait?He just wanted to show off if you ask me, had to be that - donít ya think?

 

Well, Curley may be singing his praises now and a few of the guys may have started to feel better around him already but so far I ainít seen nothing so special about the guy, even if the admiral is set on him. Itís going to take me a while before I forgive and forget, I can tell ya.He may be able to win them over but they didnít get punched out by him!

 

Anyways it seems weíre stuck with him so I guess Iíll have time to figure him out. Pat says we got to give him a chance and I will but I just hope the admiral donít regret it is all I can say.

 

Weíre in port for a few weeks getting some repairs done, Iím staying over at Patís, give me a call there, Stan.We oughta try and get together while weíre both on dry land for a change.

 

Take care bro,

 

Ski