Huge thanks to Linda Delaney for allowing me to use Chip’s Pentagon background and the keel-laying ceremony from her story ‘Silence’. While the idea for the launch and christening is my slant on Chip and Lee seeing the Seaview together for the first time, it was born from ‘Silence’. Thanks to Kate for fixing up all my glaring and not so glaring mistakes and to Diane for her ‘Chip knowledge’.
A WISH COME TRUE
By Sea Spinner
“Well Harry,” said Admiral Jiggs Starke, “your boat’s really starting to take shape.”
Admiral Harriman Nelson looked down from the viewing platform at the submarine he’d designed and had to admit that his long-time friend was right. “Yes, she’s going to be an incredible vessel, it’s like a wish come true.”
“Any ideas on her name yet?”
Nelson laughed. “I’ve tossed a few names around in my head, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. Something related to the design, perhaps.”
“How about your crew?”
“No, still working on that.”
Starke frowned. “The boat will be ready and you won’t have a name or a crew.”
Nelson saw a car pull up below and patted his friend on the shoulder. “I’ve got to go, Jiggs. I’ll see you for dinner.”
“You could say that.”
Starke squinted to see who it was that stepped out of the car. “Hmm, isn’t that Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton?”
Nelson merely grinned. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”
Before Starke could fire another question at him he started down the steps to where Chip stood, staring at the bulky submarine.
“Chip, thank you for coming on such short notice. What do you think of her?”
“Amazing, Sir.” Then as if he’d remembered who he was speaking to he snapped off a salute.
Nelson returned it. “Let’s keep the formalities to a minimum, shall we. Now, I’ll take you on the grand tour.”
He watched the enthusiastic response on the blond officer’s face and was secretly pleased. He’d intended to impress the young man and things had started out better than he’d hoped.
“There are still a few systems to finish, in particular, the computer systems. I am still looking for the right person to supervise their completion.” Once again Harry could see Chip’s barely contained enthusiasm as he touched each section of the control room with near reverence. “Now, let’s go to my cabin and discuss why I asked you here today.”
“Sir, do all these systems operate from the same mainframe?” asked Chip as he followed Nelson down the corridor.”
Nelson nodded. “Yes, but I have made sure that there are safety mechanisms in the designs to isolate them in the event of any problems so they can operate independently as well as a whole.”
“Have you chosen a name for her yet?”
He laughed. “That, Chip, seems to be the question of the day. I haven’t completely decided, but I do have a preference.” Nelson stopped outside a cabin door without a name plate and stepped inside. “This isn’t my cabin rather it will belong to the Executive Officer. That’s if I can persuade him to give up his desk job at the Pentagon and return to sea.”
Nelson was quick to observe the hope on Chip’s face that was gone as fast as it appeared. “That’s right, Chip, the job’s yours if you want it.” He touched the bulkhead. “She’s still a few months away from being finished, which will give you plenty of time to oversee the computer system installation.”
“I…I don’t know what to say, Sir.”
“Say yes, you know you want it. I’ve been watching you at the Pentagon. That desk job’s eating you away.”
Chip ran his hand along the brand new paintwork and sighed, his wish to be back to sea had finally come true. “What about the Navy? I can’t see them allowing me to finish out my tour working with you. I’ve already been told there’s nobody to replace me when I’m due for a new posting.”
Nelson had the grace to look embarrassed as he took a letter from his pocket. He’d already cleared it with the Chief of Navy long ago. “Actually, the only thing that’s left for you to do is sign this letter which will release you to the Navy Reserve.”
“How can I say no, Sir?”
The Admiral snorted. “I take that as a yes?”
“Yes, Sir,” replied Chip, his eyes bright with excitement as he took out a pen and signed his name on the bottom line. “When do I start?”
“Read the fine print.”
“Effective immediately,” he read slowly.
“All you need to do is pack your desk, hand in your ID at the Pentagon and report to NIMR at 0800 hours.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Chip hesitated. “Do you mind if I have a look around?”
“No, go ahead. Here’s your pass.”
Chip smiled as he took the plastic ID. “You sure are organized, Sir.”
“Admiral will be fine.”
Nelson watched as Chip left what was now his cabin and embarked on what he suspected would be a head-to-toe examination of the boat. He’d been right in choosing him as the XO. The young officer had a mind like a steel trap, and Nelson had no doubt the systems would be installed on time and in perfect operating condition. The project was finally starting to come together. He was beyond tired, existing on a few hours sleep each day but at the same time it was hard to keep his exhilaration under control. Now all he had to do was find the perfect captain for his unique research vessel, and he suspected that decision would give him even more sleepless nights.
“Come on, Lee, you know you want to have a look,” hiccupped Chip.
“I’ve got an early start tomorrow. I really need to get some sleep,” he protested, realizing that his friend probably needed to go to sleep as well.
Their celebration of the successful completion of the sea trials had been a little more boisterous than expected. As a result, Chip had given Lee a hug as he was dragging him to the car and told him he was more like his brother than his sisters. Although that had not made a lot of sense to Lee, it had obviously meant a lot to Chip.
“Aww, c’mon, jus’ a li’l peek,” Chip pleaded, putting his forefinger and thumb together to emphasize the ‘little’ part. “She’s beautiful.”
Lee knew there’d be hell to pay if Admiral Nelson knew Chip had taken him on board the Seaview for a look when he was intoxicated, but he really did want to see the fabled state-of-the-art submarine.
“Okay, but just for half an hour, then I’m taking you home so you can sleep it off.”
At the gate, Chip signed Lee in and they made their way to where the submarine was in dry dock, awaiting its launching and christening ceremony in two days time.
“Wow, so you were right. It’s incredible,” admitted Lee, unable to take his eyes off the beautiful design.
“Told ya so. I’m gonna show you my cabin first.”
Lee was rooted to the ground. He let Chip head up the scaffolding steps and continued to drink in the sight in front of him. To captain such a submarine – that was his ultimate wish. Maybe one day it would come true. He couldn’t complain, his current command was modern and the crew was disciplined and capable – for the most part. His XO could be a problem at times and he secretly wished that he had Chip in the role. At least he knew his friend was more than a match for any XO in the Navy and wouldn’t need checking on several times in a watch.
“Lee, c’mon,” called Chip from a quarter of the way up.
“Okay, I’m coming.”
He easily caught up to Chip and before long they were standing in his cabin. “Wow, it’s big,” exclaimed Lee, suitably impressed.
“Yep, sure is. I can even lie down on the bunk without having to scrunch my legs up.” He flopped onto the mattress to make his point.
“Can we have a look at the engine room and the con?” asked Lee, all thoughts of a quick half hour tour gone from his mind.
Chip struggled to his feet. “Okay, I c’n see you don’t care ‘bout my accommodations. This way.”
He led Lee along the wide corridor, down a set of steps and stopped outside a sign that indicated they had arrived at the engine room. Lee heard some metallic noises coming from within.
“Chip, wait. Should anyone else be in here?”
He looked at his watch. It was past two in the morning. It was unlikely someone was in there for a legitimate purpose.
“Nobody else signed in,” said Chip, immediately sobering up, save for an occasional hiccup.
“Do you have any weapons on board?”
“No, they’re being stocked tomorrow. What are you thinking – sabotage?”
Lee nodded. “Yes. The launching ceremony is only two days away, rather a day and a half. It’s possible someone doesn’t want her to make it.”
“I know Admiral Nelson has some enemies who’d be more than happy to see this come crashing down around him.”
“Hmm, literally as well as figuratively,” muttered Chip, testing the hatch. “It’s jammed.”
“Are there any vent shafts?”
Chip raised his eyebrows. “As a matter of fact they run right through the boat.”
“How easy is it to get in and out?”
“They’re meant to be easy to open because some are access ways for mechanical systems.”
“How about comm’s to the guard post?”
“None, the boat’s supposed to be moved tomorrow. Everything’s been disconnected.”
“Damn,” said Lee, running his hand through his hair. “Chip, we’ve got two options.”
His friend gave him a lopsided smile. “Let me guess. The first option would result in me leaving you here alone, and that ain’t gonna happen. The second would entail both of us crawling through a confined space to crash our mystery party goers.”
Lee had a high regard for his friend’s analytical abilities and he hadn’t let him down yet. “Okay, so we go with option two.”
“Do you have any idea which vent goes through to the engine room?”
“None at all,” he said, still grinning.
Lee shook his head. “Are you sure you’re up to this?”
“Yep, never felt better,” said Chip as he led them towards the nearest vent shaft. “I think this one leads to the engine room.”
Lee reached up and pulled the grill off. “Hope this is the right one.”
“Me too, I don’t fancy crawling around in those things all night.”
“Give me a leg up.”
After Lee had dragged Chip into the opening, they crawled noiselessly towards the engine room. After about ten yards, they came to a crossroad in the shaft, but Lee could clearly hear the sounds coming from the saboteurs.
“This way,” he whispered and continued moving.
After a few yards, Lee saw another grill. He turned around to signal Chip then peered through the holes.
“Hah, Nelson won’t know what’s hit him when he tries to launch this,” laughed one of the men.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” snarled another.
“Quit yapping and finish grinding that mechanism down,” ordered a third man.
Lee put three fingers up for Chip, hoping that he didn’t see any more than three. The odds weren’t great, but there was nothing he could do about that. He just hoped they weren’t armed.
“Let’s go,” he whispered, then kicked out the grill and ran over to the men, using the element of surprise to Chip’s and his advantage.
“What the…” yelled one of the men.
Chip recognized at least one of the saboteurs as a worker he’d seen a few times at the shipyard. He didn’t have much more time to look at them as the men recovered their wits and began to fight back.
“Lee, watch out,” he cried as one of the men picked up a wrench and took a swing at his friend.
He cringed as Lee took a hit in the side, but he had his own problems with the man he was fighting. Chip grunted as a savage punch hit home, but then he managed to turn the tables on his attacker and flipped him around so that he could grip him in a choke hold. Chip held his arm around the man’s neck, anxious to help Lee out now that he was in a struggle with the two other men. He felt the fight go out of him, held on for a little longer then dropped him to the deck.
Lee had just knocked one of the men down, but had paid for it when the other one punched him savagely in the kidneys. Chip launched himself at the man in a diving tackle, throwing him against the bulkhead. He got up expecting a fight but the man had taken the brunt of Chip’s tackle and been knocked out.
“Lee!” he cried out, but his friend ducked at the right moment and launched an assault on his attacker that left the man groaning on the deck.
Chip put his hand on Lee’s shoulder. “Thanks, buddy.”
Lee was still bent over, sucking in deep breaths. “No problem, but next time you want to show me something after a few drinks, I’m bringing my nine millimeter just in case.”
Both of them broke into hoarse laughter, only stopping when their bruised bodies began to protest.
Lee stood beside Chip, watching the progress of the boat towards the water. He caught a glimpse of Admiral Starke glaring at the pair of them, probably thinking they had been in a fight with each other. He had to admit, with Chip’s black eye and his own split lip, it did look bad. Admiral Nelson, on the other hand had given them a broad smile as soon as the boat was in christening position. He had been grateful when it came to light that the two of them had saved his dream from certain disaster. Lee had given Chip all the credit since it was his friend that insisted on the early morning sortie to see the boat. In return for their actions, Nelson had promised Lee a trip during their final sea trials which he had happily accepted. He turned his attention back to the ceremony just as the final stage was reached.
“I christen thee Seaview,”
said the President’s wife as she smashed a bottle of
The newly christened Seaview slipped effortlessly from her cradle into the Santa Barbara harbor, and was positioned beside the dock, awaiting her crew.
Chip looked at Lee. “It would be perfect if you were coming with us.”
“I am,” said his friend.
“You know what I mean, Lee.”
Lee nodded. “Believe me, I wish I was going with you as well. There’s no other submarine like her in the world,” he said, longing to put his hand on her unique bulkheads one more time, to feel the thrum of her powerful new engines.
“Who knows, maybe one day,” said Chip, his voice trailing off.
“Well, I’d better get back. I’ll see you onboard in a few days. At least I’ll have a few hours to make sure you’re doing your job,” he said, ducking to avoid Chip’s playful swing.
“Take care, Lee.”
Lee smiled. “You too, Chip. Don’t go trying to save the world on your own.”
“That’s your department, buddy,” he teased, getting a playful punch in his arm for his trouble.
Admiral Nelson watched his XO and Lee Crane from a distance. The pair of them would have been perfect for his command crew, but that was not to be. He was sure Chip would fit well with John Phillips as the Seaview’s captain, but not quite as perfectly as Lee Crane in the same position. Still, who knew what the future might bring? As yet it was unwritten, and fate had a habit of playing practical jokes on those who thought the path was mapped out for them. He would just have to sit back and wait to see what it had in store for both of these men he valued so highly.