A Necessary Evil

By Kay H.



Seaview had docked in Santa Barbara and is undergoing refits in preparation for its next series of missions.  Admiral Nelson was spending his time in the laboratories working on some critical experiments while Lt. Commander Morton was over seeing the refurbishments.  Commander Crane was appearing before a Congressional Appropriation Committee to answer questions on budget items utilized during a recent DOD (Department of Defense) cruise.  Due to Nelson’s incredibly busy schedule Lee had started assuming some of the day-to-day functions of running NIMR.  By occasionally trading off the dull but very necessary meeting with Congressional Committees, other government’s agencies and private foundations wishing to utilize the Seaview, with the captain, it allowed the admiral some free time for the scientific research that was his first love.


While neither of them liked this part of the job it was crucial for the continuing operation of Seaview and NIMR, they generally tried to alternate these duties. It was Lee’s turn this time. He was not happy to attend an endless round of boring meetings, especially since his Lady was undergoing installation of some new equipment.  The only good thing was after the meetings were finished; he and Chip were going off to Maine to participate in one of the Great Schooner Races.  Several times a year races were held there using with the old tall style sailing schooners similar to the early passenger ships that used to sail the world.  These ships are so different from the modern sailing vessels and need more practical skills that make the challenge all the more exciting.


Lee’s was anxious to get through all the meetings as fast as possible and set off for some fun. The first scheduled meeting was with a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.  The meeting lasted for 3 hours, with Lee answering all sorts of questions about the equipment used in Seaview’s previous mission that had been undertaken on behalf of the Navy Department.  Lee then had an afternoon meeting at the Pentagon to answer questions on the budget items relating to the previous cruise.  Finally after a tiring day, Lee’s evening plans included a dinner meeting with the Coral Reef Alliance.  Returning to his hotel to cleanup and change for the dinner meeting, Lee was just getting out of the shower when his phone rang.  He wrapped at towel around his waist and walked into the bedroom and picked up his phone.  “Crane here,” he answered brusquely.


Nelson laughed gently into the phone “Lee, you sound tired and frustrated.   How did the meetings go today?”


Lee just groaned “Remember Admiral, it’s your turn next time to make the next round of Washington meetings, this is just so tiring.”  He snagged another towel from the rail and goes to sit on the side of the bed while he continued to talk with Nelson and towel dry his hair.  “No, really the meetings went fine just the normal aggravation with questions on every item.  This time they had the gall to suggest that our consumption of coffee was excessive or that possibly were we drinking a specialty blend to account for the amount of money spent?  I had a difficult time keeping a straight face at that particular criticism.”


After letting Lee vent for a few minutes, because he knew how irritating these committee members could be, Nelson continued. “Lee, I added some appointments to your schedule.  The first is at the Offices of the Coral Reef Alliance for you with Brian Reynolds tomorrow morning.  I know you are attending the dinner meeting there this evening, but they also want some private time.  Then tomorrow afternoon with NOAAS, the Oceans Services Office of Response and Restoration section of the National Oceanic & Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) for a meeting with Dr. Holly Jacobs.  It’s their job is to protect and restore marine and costal ecosystems, including the coral reefs.  She wants to discuss the possibility of several future joint projects with NIMR.  We have several upcoming missions investigating the coral reefs; maybe we can combine some projects.”


Lee groaned louder this time, “Admiral, I thought that I was meeting with NOAA tomorrow afternoon at 1400, regarding our using the facilities on the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory.”


Nelson heard the groan and tried to placate him, “Yes Lee, you’re still scheduled for that meeting.  That meeting is very important as you know. We need to get the preliminary parameters lined out for the Pisces mission later this year.  We are definitely going to need the deep saturation dive facilities of the Aquarius or something similar. Maybe we can collaborate with them on a new facility.    The meeting with NOAAS is scheduled to start at 12:30 and since they are located in the same building complex, you should be able to make both meetings.”


Lee finished toweling dry while listening to Nelson and realized how late it was getting.  He needed to hurry up and finish getting dressed, since it was just about time to leave for the dinner meeting.  “You know Sir; I’m really going to enjoy the Schooner Race. The sailing cruise to the lighthouses after all of these meetings will be a welcome relief!  Is there anything you want specifically covered at the dinner meeting tonight, Sir?  Only I need to finish dressing if I’m not going to be late.”


Nelson thought for a moment, “No Lee, you can relax tonight. This should be more of a get acquainted event and the specifics can be covered in the private meeting with Brain tomorrow morning.  I will let you go now, enjoy your evening.”


Lee laughed and hung up the phone.   The Coral Reef Alliance dinner meeting was held at the Windham Washington and Lee was pleasantly surprised that it became more like the usual DC social cocktail party.  Lee was glad though when the party finally ended and he was able to return to his hotel to rest




The next day Lee rose early and decided to work out in the hotel’s exercise room before starting his day.  He wasn’t used to all the physical inactivity involved in attending endless meetings. After working out for an hour he returned to his room and got ready for the day ahead.  He checked his watch and decided that it’s too early to check in with Chip on how the progress of the refit to the Seaview was going. He picked up his cover and headed for the lobby.  As he exited the elevator he saw an old friend from his Academy days, Tony McGuire.  He was heading toward the dinning room and Lee turned and followed him into the restaurant and over to the buffet table. As he stood next to him he smiled “Hello Tony, you old dog, what a surprise seeing you here.”


McGuire jumped at suddenly hearing Lee’s voice, “Lee, where did you come from?  I thought you were in California at NIMR.  What are you doing in Washington?”


Lee laughed, “I’m in DC on business for the Institute.  It’s been a long time since I saw you.  What are you doing now?”


“Do you have time to join me for breakfast so we can catch up?” asked McGuire “Or would dinner be better?”


Lee glanced at his watch “I have about an hour before I need to leave for my meeting, so let’s have together breakfast.”  They both fixed their plates from the buffet and sat down at a table.   Tony’s plate looked very similar to what Chip’s would normally look like, where Lee only grabbed a muffin, small bowl of fruit and cup of coffee.


Tony looked at Lee’s plate.  “Come on Lee, that’s not all you’re eating?  Apparently your eating habits haven’t changed since the Academy.  That little bit wouldn’t last me an hour before I needed to eat again.”


Lee shook his head and grinned, “I see that your appetite is still like Chip’s, no food is safe around you.”


Tony laughed, “How is Chip these days?”


“He’s doing fine.  Right now he is overseeing some refits on Seaview, but I will be checking in with him later today,” said Lee.


“Tell him I said ‘Hi’ when you talk with him.” Tony watched Lee nod then continued. “I resigned from the Navy earlier this year, needed to expand my horizons.  I now work for a marine organization here in DC,” Tony said.  “I don’t know if you have heard of them, The Coral Reef Alliance.  I live in Florida now.  I was supposed to fly in yesterday afternoon for a dinner meeting last night, but my flight was delayed due to bad weather so I missed it.  I have meeting scheduled today, but should be free this evening if you have some free time.”


Lee looked at Tony in surprise, “I was at that dinner meeting last night.  It was more a social event than an actual meeting.  I have a 9am meeting scheduled with Brian Johnson at The Coral Reef Alliance.  Are you going to be there?”


Tony excitedly said “What a small world.  Yes this meeting is the main reason I’m in town.  I knew that we were hoping to capture the interest of some scientist or an organization into investigating the Solomon Islands.  Concerns have been raised that an earthquake and tsunami might have damaged its reefs and affect its diving industry.   I had no idea it would be the NIMR.”


Lee looked at Tony, “You know Admiral Nelson was part of the survey several years ago looking into the damage to the Simeuleu reefs.  That was to be predictable, given the uplift that occurred and the severity of the quake which resulted in the island rising 4 feet.  It was only to be expected that he would be involved again, I suppose.  I remember his comments were that this has been going on for million of years and its part of natural evolution. The exposed reefs are largely lost and will become coastal forests, where those just beneath the water's surface, however, are likely to grow back as long as local communities protect the small, fragile marine animals.  Why suddenly all of the concern for the Solomon Island’s now?”


Tony listened closely to Lee’s comment and said, “I’m sure the meeting this morning may answer most of your questions.  Are you finished eating we should really be leaving?   Why don’t we share a cab, since we are going the same place?”


They arrived at The Coral Reef Alliance’s offices and as they entered the reception area the reception greeted Tony. “Good Morning Mr. McGuire, Mr. Johnson requested that I inform you the meeting will be in the 4th floor conference room.”  She then looked toward Lee and asked “Sir, May I help you?”


Tony pointed toward Lee and said, “Gloria, this is Commander Lee Crane of the Nelson Institute.  I’m sure he is on your list for this morning’s meeting.  I will escort him to the conference room.  Will you let Mr. Johnson know that he has arrived?”


Gloria looks slightly flustered, since she had been so focused on Tony; she missed noticing the handsome visitor.  “Please sign the visitors log, Commander Crane and wear this ID badge at all times.”


Lee flashed the receptionist a bright smile and reached for the log sheet, “Certainly.”


After Lee received his badge Tony led the way to the 4th floor conference room.  Brain Johnson was waiting for them. “Commander Crane. It is a pleasure to meet you.  I am glad that you were able to fit this private meeting into your schedule.  Have you met Tony McGuire yet?”


Lee shook hands with Brain Johnson and glanced at Tony. “We’re old friends, from our Naval Academy days.   I talked with Admiral Nelson last night and he indicated that you wanted to schedule some time on Seaview.”


Brain indicated for everyone to sit down. “Yes, we are concerned that the quake a few months ago, could possible have damaged the coral reefs in the Solomon Islands.  This area relies heavily on the tourist industry, especially diving.  We need to find out if any shifts in the area may cause a rise in the island.  The best way to check this is by mapping the ocean bottom and the coral areas.  A rise in the island could cause a massive loss of coral, which would affect the economy from everything connected with the marine industry to the tourist industry.  We anticipate that is should require two-weeks.  Admiral Nelson did point out that Seaview’s schedule is full, but to present you with our requirements and possibly something could be worked out.


Lee thought for a minute as he mentally reviewed their mission programme, “When do you need to have this survey done? Have you prepared a list of your requirements?”  Lee stopped and thought quickly before saying. “Depending on your requirements we might be able to combine your survey with another mission planned in a near by area.”  Lee looks at his watch, then stood and shook hands with Tony and Brian “Tony if you can get all the relevant papers together and drop them by my hotel room later, I will review them and talk to the Admiral.”  Tony smiled at Brian and both men looked excited at the prospect of the collaboration. The discussion then became detailed as both men sought to persuade him of the scientific importance and Lee smiled at their enthusiasm as he glanced at his watch, “That’s all very interesting but in the meantime gentlemen if you will excuse me, I must be going.  I have another meeting scheduled across town.”  Then everyone stood and shook hands. 


Brian Johnson smiled broadly and promised, “We will get the details out to you this afternoon.  When do you think you and Admiral Nelson will decide and get back to us?  As you probably understand we are in a hurry.”


Lee looked at Mr. Johnson and smiled to himself, scientist were always impatient “The Seaview is tied up on other projects for the next 2 months.  If I remember correctly Seaview should be in the area of the Solomon’s in about 4 months on another project.  Your mission could possibly be combined with that cruise; it will really depend upon the requirements of both projects.  I’m sorry gentlemen but that is the best information that I can give you at the moment.” 


As Lee headed toward the door, Tony McGuire said. “I’ll walk you down with you Lee perhaps we can make plans for this evening.”  They enter the elevator “Do you want to setup something up now or call me when you finish with your other meeting?”


Lee smiled and shook his head “I had better call you this evening.  I’m not sure how long the meetings will last and then I need to check in with the Institute.”


“Okay, I will wait for you call.  If I haven’t heard from you by 1900 then I will assume you got tied up and won’t be able to make it.”  When they reached the lobby, Tony reached out for Lee’s visitor’s pass.  “I’ll turn this in for you.”


“Thanks Tony, see you later so we can catch up.” And Lee strides off hurriedly




Lee hailed a cab and headed over to the NOAA complex.  The meeting at The Coral Reef Alliance took longer than Lee expect, so he was cutting it close for the meeting with Holly Jacobs with NOAAS. 


Holly Jacobs was sitting impatiently at her desk.  She had just checked her watch for the second time and took note that her appointment was now late!  She didn’t like it when her valuable time was wasted by inconsiderate people who cannot be punctual for meetings which she considered important. She was beginning to wonder where Commander Crane was when she heard a knock on the door. “Come.”  She ordered sternly


Lee clearly heard the irritation in her voice and sighed as he opened the door.  “Dr. Jacobs, I’m Commander Crane from the Nelson Institute.” He stepped into the room and held out his hand to shake hers.  “I’m sorry that I am late. Unavoidable I’m afraid.” Without invitation Lee pulled out a chair and sat down trying to ignore the frosty reception “I understand from Admiral Nelson that you have some projects that you would like us to collaborate on.”


Dr. Jacobs glared at Lee.  “Commander Crane, I hope that you are better prepared for this meeting that you are with scheduling your time.  I am extremely busy and do not appreciate being kept waiting. I haven’t any time to waste on inefficiency. ” 


Lee was greatly surprised at the hostility of Dr. Jacobs and replied coolly.  “I have already apologized for being late.  Your meeting was fitted at the last minute into my schedule, since I was already in Washington.  My understanding was that there were some projects that would benefit us both by working jointly with the Institute.  I am here to obtain information about the projects and work out the necessary scheduling needed by your office and the Seaview’s availability.”


Dr. Jacobs grimaced at his tone and bristled ever so slightly at his obvious disdain towards her.   “Very well Commander, let’s get started.” She opened a file on her desk and studied the contents although she knew them well.  “There are two different projects that we need the institute’s assistance with.   The first project is fairly simple for Seaview.  Recently some wrecks of whaling ships were discovered under the shallow reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, The ships debris is in an area of fragile coral reefs off the Atoll’s of Pearl and Hermes. This debris needs to be removed urgently, since some of it is contains old fishing nets which must be cut away and removed from this area before they drift into the atolls and reefs and damage the coral ecosystem.  The discovery of historic shipwreck debris requires this area be mapped first of course.”


She paused to take a breath and scowled slightly at the seated man.  “The second project especially needs Admiral Nelson’s assistance.  It is an advanced Sonar System we are developing. I’m sure you won’t understand the technology involved.  It is unfortunate that Admiral Nelson sent you instead pf coming himself, so I suppose I must try and explain its importance to you.  I hope that if I keep it simple enough you might even understand.”


Lee gritted his teeth but continued to smile pleasantly, “Dr. Jacobs. I am very familiar with sound waves and echo sounders.  We use sonar and hydrophones when piloting a boat and especially on a submarine.”


Holly just glared and harrumphed at the reproof. “I’m sure that you have some simple understanding of conventional sonar, but not for anything this complex. The mathematical equations are extremely complex and this is where we definitely need Admiral Nelson’s assistance. “


Lee’s listened as she then went in to detailing all the research but after a few minutes interrupted Dr, Jacobs during her explanation as he said, “Dr. Jacobs I don’t need the specifics technical information right now.  If you can put a package together with your requirements and send it to the Institute, then we will be able to determine the best time that your project would fit in with Seaview’s schedule.  It would be helpful to list what dates you would be available; also a list of the specific procedures you need to carry out.  Since Admiral Nelson’s inclusion is necessary for the sonar project please indicate that in your request.  Due to the Admiral’s busy schedule he doesn’t always participate in every mission of the Seaview.   This is something that will need to be addressed separately.”  Lee started to rise and held out his hand to Dr. Jacobs “Doctor, I am sorry to cut this meeting so short, but I have yet another meeting and it would not be polite of me to be late twice in a row.” He grinned boyishly as he noted her pinched expression at his small jibe.  “We will look forward to reviewing your proposal and will get back to you at a later date.” 


Dr. Jacobs tossed her hair back as she glared at Lee “Very well, Commander I can see that I will have to do that.  You can be sure that I will relay the details of our conservation to Admiral Nelson.”


“As will I, Doctor.”


Lee turned smartly and walked out the door.  Lee smiled as he remembered last night’s phone conversation with Nelson.  The next groups of meetings were definitely his! 




Chip was having his own problems and difficulties concerning the installation of the test equipment for the next mission.  Unfortunately the Admiral had agreed to allow the technicians from the company whose equipment they were testing, to install the equipment instead of Seaview personnel.    When the lead technician caused yet another circuit to short out, he sent the offender a glare that could stop you cold.  This was a look that would normally send an errant crewman in the opposite direction of a pissed off XO.  He then walked over to the radio shack, “Sparks contact Miss Madison and see if the Admiral is available.  We have to do something about these people before they destroy Seaview.”


Sparks recognized the look even though it had no effect on the technician and hurriedly complied with the request.  “Aye, Aye, Sir.”


Within moments Sparks turned to the XO “Sir, Miss Madison is on the line.  I am transferring it to the phone here, Sir.”


Chip picked up the phone, “Angie, is the Admiral available?”


Angie smiled as she heard Chip’s voice “No, he’s tied up in a laboratory meeting at the moment.  If it’s urgent I can interrupt.”


Chip frowned “No, just have him call me as soon as he’s free. I need to discuss something with him. Have you talked with Lee today?”


Angie, recognizing Command temperament in the workplace, gently says, “No I haven’t heard from him yet.  I know the Admiral added several additional meetings to his schedule today, so I really don’t expect to hear from him until later this afternoon.  Do you want me to have him call you too, when I hear from him?”


Chip reflected a minute “Yes please.  When do you think that the Admiral might be free?”


Angie shook her head as she listened to the XO, “Probably not for several hours at least.”


Chip sighed and signed off with Angie just as the loud noise of a heavy object hitting Seaview’s immaculate deck, reached his ears. Taking a deep breath and turning abruptly he saw an errant technician retrieving the equipment cover he had just dropped. Feeling himself under observation, the technician looked up and caught the blistering glare aimed in his direction by the XO. The young man felt bright red color stain his cheeks then straightened himself and shrugged defiantly. He didn’t have to take any disapproval from these stiff-necked Navy types; he wasn’t one of their crew!





Lee had a few minutes before his next meeting, so he thought he’d try to find someplace for coffee but decided instead to walk outside in the courtyard of the beautiful area that joined the different wings of the Department of Commerce Building.  While he relaxed for a few minutes in the warm sunshine, he decided to check in with Chip on how the installation of the test equipment was going.  He took out his cell phone and dialed the familiar number.


Chip had just started to walk over to the technician to chew him out for dropping the instrument cover, and check to make sure that no damage had been done when his cell phone rang.   He quickly decided to continue on to the Observation Nose before answering in private.  “Morton here”, he growled discouragedly.


Lee held the phone slightly away from his ear as he asked, “That’s no way to answer your phone.  Problems Mr. Morton?”


Chip laughed at the sound of his best friend’s voice and asked, “Did you get my message already?”


“No. Message about what?  I had sometime before my next meeting and decided to call and check on the installations.  Is there a problem?  Is Seaview okay?” asked Lee.


Chip rolled his eyes at Lee’s worried tone.  Seaview is okay, Lee.  I just wish the Admiral had insisted we install the equipment, rather than allowing this company’s technicians do it.  They seem to be ineffective and clumsy.  It’s taking them longer than was scheduled and they are only half way through the installation phase.  We probably won’t we able to run the test profiles to verify the equipment’s working until late tomorrow. ”


Lee was dismayed by Chip’s news.  “What did the Admiral say about the problems?”


“That’s something else, Lee. “I haven’t been able to talk with him.  He’s been tied up in a laboratory meeting all-day!” said a very irritated XO. 


Lee thought for a minute. “Okay Chip, let’s do this.  Assign a member of Seaview’s crew to work with each of the company’s technicians.  That way they can watch out for problems or mistakes.  At the first indication of trouble, have our men take over and allow their personnel to observe.  As the installation of each piece of equipment is finished, run the test profiles on that one piece of equipment.” Lee stopped as he rapidly calculated the viability of his suggestions then continued. “When the Admiral is free, you can tell him those were my orders.  At least this way we can be sure that the equipment gets installed properly.  Then we can deal with their ruffled feathers later.  I really need to go now but I will check in later.”


Chip breathed a sigh of relief, “Thanks Lee that helps a lot.  I’m sure glad you called when you did. I was about to barbeque someone!”


“Now, now Mr. Morton, remember they are only civilian’s you know, you can’t expect the same military attention to detail that you’re used to. You’ll have to exercise some restraint; I don’t want to come back to body parts all over my deck! ” Lee laughed as he disconnects.




Lee continued walking through the courtyard to another wing of the building.  This area houses other offices of NOAA.  As he arrived he saw Kevin Ross, the person with whom he has the meeting. 


Kevin noticed Lee enter the foyer immediately.  “Hi, Lee it is good to see you.  Let’s go into my office.  Would you like some coffee?”


Lee greeted Kevin with a smile and nods. “Hello Kevin, thanks I could really use a cup of coffee right now.  It has been a long day”


Kevin poured them both a cup of coffee from the carafe on the table.  “What can I do for the Nelson Institute?”


“We need to arrange some time on the Aquarius or even better what would NOAA think about jointly building another undersea lab with NIMR.  It would be great if we could incorporate some of the designs used in the Aquarius to achieve a mobile undersea lab.”


Kevin looked excited, “We have always dreamed of something like that, but what about the required surface support?


Lee held his hand up to slow Kevin down, “Those are all things that still need to be determined.  Some governments and private foundations are interested in this project, but we wanted to get your views first. This would allow the undersea lab to be move to different areas of coral as needed.  Right now as you know, the undersea lab prevents the need for saturation dives from the surface, but except for the Aquarius or other fixed undersea labs all other diving to investigate coral fields requires saturation diving because some of the areas are to unstable for permanent labs.”


“That’s very exciting, but we never envisioned it happening.” Kevin stopped to gather his thoughts “What possible timeline are we looking at?  Do you need anything specifically from us?”


Lee grinned, “Right now it’s only in the preliminary stage; Admiral Nelson is still putting together a consortium for the financing.  I know that when they get to the actual design, support and testing phases your group will be instrumental. If we could utilize part of the plans for the Aquarius It will save time designing the new mobile lab.  You already have experience with what didn’t work; also your knowledge on the operational problems that have been encountered would be a huge benefit.  We should begin the preliminary design meetings in around 6 months.  I know the Admiral plans on monthly updates for everyone involved in the beginning, then more frequently as the project progresses. ”


Kevin is like a kid with a new toy.  “Lee, I can’t wait to let the rest of our group know.  You really have made my day.  Just let us know what you need and we will be more than happy to help.”


After lots more discussion, Lee left NOAA’s offices and headed back to his hotel.  He was exhausted from all of the meetings today, but is pleased by the progress made with the Aquarius project.  Obtaining NOAA’s support was critical if the Institute planned to move forward with this venture.    He got back to the hotel and checked the desk for messages before heading for his room.  He decided to change and take a quick swim before calling the Institute.


He returned to his room revitalized and called Nelson’s office.  Angie answered brightly, “Admiral Nelson Office, Angela Madison speaking.  May I help you?”


“Angie, its Lee. Is he available?”


“No Lee, he still in a meeting, on an experimental project, has been in it all day.  Can I have him call you?”  Angie thought for a minute “Lee, Chip called this morning asked me to have you call him, if I heard from you.”


Lee laughed “I already called him just before lunch.  I guess he forgot to tell you?  Do you have any idea how much longer the Admiral will be?”


Angie glanced at the clock “Well, it is almost 6 PM and I will be interrupting him in half an hour, since he has a dinner meeting with the Chamber of Commerce tonight.  The meeting isn’t until seven, but he wanted to check on the installation of the test equipment before he left.  Do you want him to call you?”


 “No, it’s okay Angie. Just let him know that I’ll call back in an hour” said Lee. “I’m going to check in with Chip again, he was having difficulties earlier today.”


“Okay Lee, I’ll let him know,” Angie smiled as she remembered Chip’s earlier call. “I thought it sounded like your exec was a bit frayed at the edge today. I’d rather you talk to him than me when he’s like that.  Bye, Lee.”


Lee smiled as he disconnected and called the boat.


Chip was taking a break in his cabin, trying to catch up on paper work.  Since taking Lee’s advice earlier and having the Seaview’s crew take over the installation of the equipment Chip felt comfortable leaving Lt. O’Brien overseeing the work.  His phone rang and he picked it up “Morton here.”


Lee laughed, “You sound better.  How’s everything going?”


Chip relaxed back in his chair, happy to chat with his friend.  “Much better after I took your suggestion.  Now that our crew is handling installing the equipment everything is going smoothly.   Of course, the technicians are upset and the company’s management is furious.  So far they have only been able to yell at me, because the Admiral is still unavailable.  Angie’s promised to have the Admiral call me before he talks with them.”


Lee sighed, “I’m supposed to talk with him in an hour, so I will clue him in.  It’s my responsibility.  I issued the order.  You are only following it.  I will not have Seaview damaged or delayed, just because the company wants to save a little extra money by using their own incompetent people.  Are the tests going to be finished on time for the anchor watch to take over and the crew released for shore leave?”


Chip shook his head.  Leave it to Lee to be always thinking of his boat and crew.  “Yes Skipper, we are back on schedule.  As usual your crew is making sure everything is fine with your Lady.  I should be able to make my flight, so I will meet you at the airport in DC.  If everything goes according to plan I should arrive about two hours, before our flight leaves for Portland.  I will meet you at the gate.”


“Great. It will be good for us both to get some down time after the last few days. I’ll meet you there at 1700.”



At last, Admiral Harriman Nelson had finished his scientific meeting and returned to his office.  Angie had left for the day, but left a long list of messages on his desk along with the items that she needed him to sign.  As he flipped through his messages, he noticed that Chip called early that morning and wanted to speak with him urgently.  Before he picked up the phone to call the boat, he saw Lee’s message and Angie’s note about the time he was calling back.  He looked at his watch and realized that Lee should be calling any minute.  Just as he debated on whether to try Morton first, his phone rang.  “Nelson.”


 “Admiral it’s Lee.  I wanted to update you on the meetings and some problems on Seaview.


“I’ve only just got free from a very long meeting when I saw Chip’s message. What problems?” Harry frowned.

Lee hesitated a moment as he paced around his hotel room.  “Well Admiral when I called this morning to check on things, Chip was not a happy man. According to Mr. Morton the installation of the test equipment was behind schedule, no equipment verification had occurred and a number of pieces of equipment had been dropped or damaged causing a further delay.  He was very concerned about Seaview and the timetable. As Captain I issued orders that I wanted one of our crewmen observing all work and if one of the technicians dropped or damaged a piece of test equipment, for our crewmen to take over and have the Bendex technician observe.  Also I wanted each piece of equipment tested and validated after it was installed.”  He waited for a comment and when none came he continued.  “Sir, I know we agreed for their personnel to handle the installations, but that was when I thought they were at least competent enough to handle the job.”


“Lee, I totally agree with you, this is too important a job to be messed up allowing shoddy work.”


“I thought that would be your opinion, Admiral. Will you contact Bendex, and explain that to them or shall I?” Lee grinned, “I think Chip has had more than enough of them for one day.”


Nelson smiled ruefully as he imagined what the conversations between his Executive officer and the Chairman of one of the largest technical support companies must have been like. Chip Morton took no prisoners! “Don’t worry Lee; I will smooth the ruffled feathers. How did all your meetings go?”


 “The meeting with NOAA on the Aquarius went real well.  They are very excited about the combined project and are willing to provide any assistance we need.  The meeting with Holly Jacobs at NOAAS was tense to say the least.  She will be forwarding her specifications to the Institute.  She was not happy to meet with me instead of you, so her feathers are a bit ruffled.  I think their Hawaiian project could be combined with some of our other scheduled projects depending upon their requirements.  I also think we could even combine these with the objectives of the Coral Reef Alliance.  We may need to extend the cruise a few days maybe even a week to accomplish everything, but it should be possible after we get their details.


“Good Lee, I was hoping that we could do something like that.  This was the main reason I added those additional meetings.”  Nelson pondered for a minute and frowned again, “I’m sorry that Holly Jacobs was so difficult Lee.  She is a good scientist but does have a reputation of being difficult to work with.  I will need to examine her proposal closely to see if she actually needs to be present. We don’t need added complications, if we’re combining several projects from different investigators on one cruise. We cannot afford to have any disruptions caused by her.”  Now he smiled,   “I’m glad that the Aquarius team is on board, it will make everything so much easier.”



Lee listened to the Admiral’s ideas “I was hoping that we could cover her project with other scientist without having her presence aboard the Seaview.  Things would probably go much smoother, but that is your decision.”



The Admiral knew that Lee would work with any scientist no matter how difficult to complete Seaview’s missions, but did not like to subject his crew to the added stress unless absolutely necessary.  He would not even consider how difficult it might be for him, just his lady and her crew.  While Nelson admired his captain for these attributes, he would also prefer to protect him from the strain of a difficult to work with scientist if possible.  “Lee we can review their mission parameters when you and Chip get back from leave.  You know you will enjoy the race and especially the lighthouse cruise.  Is the installation of equipment going to be finished in time for Chip to make his flight?”  It is rare for his Command team to take leave and he didn’t want anything to interfere.


Lee excitedly said “Yes, Admiral.  When I talked with him earlier this afternoon everything was back on schedule.  He should be able to turn Seaview over to the Anchor watch as planned.  We will meet at the airport here and fly onto Maine as planned.”



“Try to come back unscathed this time Captain. We have far too much planned in our future missions to accommodate any injuries! I think our CMO would appreciate a nice calm start to our next mission!”


Crane laughed and promised, “I’ll do best, Sir but I don’t go looking for trouble you know and besides how do you know it won’t be our XO that attracts the injuries this time?”


“I don’t want either of you to come back with as much as a scratch… that’s an order!” Laughed Nelson as he hung up.



Note:  Thanks to Lillian H. for her usual great job betaing along with her fantastic suggestion, also keeping me focused and on track with the story.