WARNING:  No sex, no violence, but I hope you read it anyway ;o)

A bit of swearing here and there.

I’ve always been unhappy with the episode “Brand of the Beast”, you can’t tell me that

Captain Crane didn’t have issues needing resolution with Sharkey and the Admiral.

There are a couple of notes at the end that I didn’t cross-reference, concerning the watch system I used and also the Panama Canal.







Lee Crane, exhausted Captain of the NIMR submarine Seaview, kicked off his shoes as soon as he got ‘home’.  Home currently being Vanora, his 39 foot Cutter sailboat.


A bit unorthodox for a home according to Admiral Nelson, but it suited Lee Crane.  He yanked off his tie and flung it somewhere to his right, he didn’t really care where it landed.  Undoing the buttons on his shirt and pulling it out of his pants, he tossed it in the general direction his tie had gone in.  He opened the fridge in the galley and took out a cold beer.  Flopping into a chair, he gently rolled the beer bottle across his aching forehead and then guzzled the contents down.  I so love living on you Vanora, any minute now we’re going to weight anchor and find us a nice bay, just for the two of us.


It wasn’t long before anyone watching would have seen a barefoot, tall, dark-haired, rakishly handsome man dressed only in holed out, faded jean cut-offs, his chest bare to the wind and sea spray, expertly leave the leeward side of the dock using only his boat’s sails.  Those at the dock would have heard a song1 beginning from this son of Neptune:


I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean
Through restful waters and deep commotion
Often frightened, unenlightened
Sail on, sail on sailor




Anchored in a cove at one of the Channel Islands, Lee was stretched out relaxing on Vanora’s bow after swimming with some ‘friends’.  His mind kept going back to the last Seaview cruise, it had been one hell of a trip... 


The Admiral had insisted that Lee run the reactor full out, despite the fact they had been having problems with it.  Nelson wanted to try to reach the Columbine, a ship in distress in the storm raging above them.  They were the closest vessel but still a good distance away.  Lee hadn’t wanted to do it, far too dangerous but Nelson told him he didn’t have all the facts.  The Columbine had six of the world’s most important scientific minds on board on a classified mission.  They simply had to be rescued.


Well Admiral Nelson had that right, I didn’t have all the ‘facts’, about the Columbine or much else on that cruise.


The reactor blew and the Admiral insisted on personally having a go at fixing it so we could continue to head for the distressed ship.  My concerns were irrelevant.  He gets exposed to sufficient radiation to reactivate the ‘rabies/lycan’ virus and turns into a werewolf again. 


Did he tell me, his Captain, and I thought, his friend?  Hell no, he confides in Sharkey.  Did Sharkey report this potentially lethal problem to me, his Captain?  Another ‘hell no’.  In fact, Sharkey interfered in a direct order I gave to Ski.  Outright insubordination!  I confine Sharkey to his quarters and he heads for the Admiral’s cabin, more insubordination!


I try to point out to the Admiral that subordinates do not get to decide which orders of mine will or will not be obeyed and he refuses to let me discipline the man.  As much as ordered me to ‘forget it’.  I’ve had problems with Sharkey’s attitude on and off ever since he came aboard.  Chip does too.  Sharkey has never been very clear on who runs the boat.  He questions orders constantly, but lord help the seaman who questions one of his.


At first Sharkey’s devotion to Admiral Nelson had been rather endearing but Lee didn’t see it that way now.  He had a COB on his boat that he couldn’t trust. 


I thought the Admiral and I were friends, close friends.  There were times he really seemed to care when I was hurt or had gone missing.  Then again there were times when he'd given orders that would have killed me, not that he had much of a choice at the time.2


Lee knew he cared deeply about the Admiral, even if it now seemed that Nelson didn’t see him as anything more that a good Captain. 


He recalled the time, during his first year with Seaview, that he’d been in Admiral Starke’s office, worried sick when the sub Neptune that Nelson had been aboard went missing.  When he had paused in his pacing of Starke’s office, his back to the world map on the wall, ‘Old Glory’3 behind his right shoulder, his face undoubtedly reflecting his deep concern for Nelson, Starke had chewed him out.  Starke’s rant that good men get lost at sea all the time wasn’t helpful.  Starke ahd eventually taken over Seaview to search for the missing sub, that had been one hell of a cruise too, almost the end Nelson’s life and his own career, not to mention almost losing Seaview and everyone aboard.4


Almost 3 1/2 years now I've been Seaview's Captain, I thought we had something here.  I didn't get to know Nelson all that well before on the Nautilus, but since taking over command of Seaview, I thought....well it doesn't matter what I thought, I obviously thought wrong.



Chip looked up as Lee scampered down the conn ladder, doing his usual leap from two rungs up.


At least he looks better than he did when we made port. 


Chip knew Lee had weighed anchor and headed out to an unknown destination for 2 weeks of shore leave.  It always worried him a bit when Lee took off but if Lee was needed, they could always contact him through his secure NIMR cell phone.  That was one stipulation Admiral Nelson had made when he learned about Lee’s ‘home’.  Since it was movable, and frequently did, there had to be a way to contact Lee.  Nelson had tried to get Lee to agree never to sail more than a day away when on leave but Lee had countered, “even if I were land locked in a ‘normal’ residence, I could hop on a plane and be halfway around the world when on leave.”  Nelson had responded, “And you could be on a plane and back here in a matter of hours, if you have to sail back from God knows where, it would take much longer.”  To appease the Admiral, Lee had rented an apartment for a while but since he was rarely in it, he eventually gave it up and reverted to living on Vanora. 




“Welcome aboard Captain, have a good sail?”


“Thank you Chip, yes I did.  I sailed over to the Channel Islands, found a secluded bay, and played with the dolphins, just them and me for 2 weeks.  Good weather the whole time too.”


Chip nodded, he’d get more details later when they were off duty.  Lee loved being in, on or around the water, Chip couldn’t see Lee ever having a dog or cat as a pet, but a dolphin, ya that would fit.


“Barring illness, alien body snatching, or any of our other usual occurrences here’s the duty roster for your approval.”


Lee snorted, they did tend to have eventful cruises.


“Looks good Chip, just a couple of adjustments I’d like to make.”  Lee took a pencil and made some changes, then handed it back to Chip.


“Go ahead and post it.”


Chip looked at the changes.


“Ah, Lee, are you sure about this?”


“Yes I am Mr. Morton.  I’ll be in my cabin if you need me for anything.”


“Aye aye, Sir.”


Chip was puzzled, Lee had changed his own watches to 0000-0700 on day one, 1700-0000 on day two and then back to 0000-0700 on day three.  Then the cycle repeated.  As Captain he would not ordinarily stand those watches, especially given that during his off hours he would periodically be required to be in the Control Room or some other area of the boat.  Not to mention the fact that day two and day three were back to back, 14 hours straight.  Chip wondered just when Lee planned to get any sleep.  Then he noticed something else about the duty roster.




Lee hung up his jacket and put his cover on the shelf in his closet.  He realized he probably was not handling his ‘Sharkey issue’ in the best way but so far, he hadn’t come up with a solution other than to try and avoid him as much as possible.  At least with changing his watches he would be working with crew members he was confident would obey his orders.  It was a stopgap measure at best, he knew he would have to have a talk with the Admiral about the last cruise but for now, he just wanted to get this one underway.




Chip was going to go talk to Lee about the watch changes, and then changed his mind.  As Captain, Lee could move watches around any way he liked, as XO, Chip couldn’t override those changes and he didn’t think Lee was about to let him talk him out of them.  However, someone on Seaview could override Lee or at least would have a better chance of getting Lee to change them.




Nelson was in his cabin looking over reports on the area they were headed for.  This wasn’t going to be a difficult cruise, but there would be a lot of diving to collect samples and observe the progress of the Lee County artificial reef system and the impact recreational diving was having.  For the most part the crew should find it relaxing and fun.  Chip had instructions to make sure that all qualified divers on board got a chance to dive the area.  Nelson had already heard the crew cracking jokes about ‘Lee’ County and their Captain. 


Be nice to have a simple, uncomplicated cruise for a change.


At the sound of three knocks on his door, he rumbled “Come”.


Chip entered with a clipboard firmly clutched in his hand.


“Admiral I was wondering if you would look over the duty roster for our cruise.”


“I thought I’d heard that Captain Crane was aboard.”


“Ah, yes Sir, that’s correct.”


“I see, and you’re not taking the roster to him for approval because?”


“He’s seen it Sir, and made a couple of changes.”


Nelson sat back in his chair giving Chip an assessing look.  Something he doesn’t like about Lee’s changes it seems.  He held out his hand for the roster.


As he looked it over, a scowl formed on his brow, he didn’t say anything, just looked up at Chip and raised his eyebrows.


“I have no idea Sir, but I could hazard a guess.”


“And that guess would be, Mr. Morton?”

Chip took a deep breath, “The changes ensure that the Captain is never on duty or diving the same time as the COB, Sir.”


Nelson glanced down again and saw that Chip was correct. 


“There must be something more to it than that.  I know Sharkey can be irritating at times but surely not to the point that Lee is willing to stand 14 hour watches just to avoid him.”


“No Sir.”


The Admiral sat back and waited, Chip didn’t appear to be planning to add anything further to the conversation.


“Would you care to make any other educated guesses Mr. Morton?”


Shit no, Lee is already going to have my head for taking the roster to the Admiral.  Oh well, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’!


“Sir I believe the Captain no longer feels that he can trust Sharkey.”


“No longer trust Sharkey, why the blazes not?  Why didn’t Lee come to speak to me if he has concerns?”


“Begging the Admiral’s pardon, but you’re the reason, Sir.”


Nelson sputtered, “Me, I’m the reason, how on earth.....oh.  Would you be referring to the somewhat ‘hairy’ problem on the last cruise?”


“That would seem to be the case, Sir.”


“I see.  Chip sit down, I need to think for a minute.”


I guess it really was too much to hope that Lee wouldn’t have a problem with Sharkey’s insubordination and my backing it up.  That had to be hard for Lee to swallow...among other things.


Nelson rested his elbows on his desk, steepled his hands and rested his forehead on them while he considered what to do.  After a few minutes he looked at Chip.


“OK Chip, for the time being let’s leave things as they are.  Lee isn’t one to ignore or avoid a problem, at least not for long.  Let’s give him some time to work things out.  We could just make matters worse by interfering at this point.”


“Aye aye, Sir.”


Chip rose to leave.




“Yes Sir.”


“You will, of course, keep an eye on our troubled Captain.  If he shows signs of exhaustion or anything else concerns you about him, report it to me immediately.”


“Aye Sir.”


Chip felt marginally better after talking with the Admiral.  He supposed Nelson was correct, leave things alone and give Lee time to solve the problem in his own way.  He wondered what excuses Nelson was going to come up with when he showed up in the control room in the middle of the night to check on Lee.  Chip had no doubt that the Admiral would be doing just that.




Sharkey, blissfully unaware of the concerns of the commanding officers, was happily harassing the crew as they completed the loading and stowing of the supplies for the cruise.  Knucklehead, Chowderhead, and other assorted insults could be heard issuing from him towards whomever he thought should be moving faster or using more care.  Kowalski was lending a hand and while he normally thought nothing of Sharkey and his badgering, today he was finding it extremely annoying. 


Kowalski hadn’t forgiven Sharkey for almost getting him in trouble with Captain Crane on the last cruise.  Kowalski had tremendous respect for his Captain and any order Captain Crane gave him, he performed with all the efficiency he possessed.  On the last cruise, when Sharkey had stopped him from obeying the Captain’s order to deliver a message to Admiral Nelson, Kowalski had been very concerned.  Thankfully, when the Captain discovered that Kowalski hadn’t obeyed his direct order because Sharkey had countermanded it, it was Sharkey who took the heat.  At least that’s what Kowalski had thought when the Captain relieved Sharkey of duty and confined him to his cabin.  Then the next thing Kowalski knew Sharkey was back in the Control Room on duty again.  He’d heard a rumour that Admiral Nelson had refused to allow Crane to discipline Sharkey.  Of course, there were extenuating circumstances he guessed; the Admiral really wasn’t himself on that cruise.


That doesn’t explain why Captain Crane took me aside after it was all over and told me to report it to him if Sharkey ever tried to interfere with an order of his again.


“Hey Kowalski, you goldbricking over there?  Get the lead out, I want this stuff stowed pronto.”


“Aye aye Chief.”


If I were the Captain I sure wouldn’t want a COB on board that I couldn’t trust.




Seaview got underway exactly on schedule.  They were headed for the Panama Canal.  Sure beats going around the horn for time, Lee thought as he checked the charts again.  It wasn’t his watch but as the Captain he was always in the Control Room when Seaview left a port or arrived at one.  Chip and Lieutenant O’Brien actually had the official watch and handled the ‘details’.  Once they were safely underway, Lee gave the two a nod of satisfaction and headed for his cabin.  Might as well dig into the paperwork.




Admiral Nelson was trying very hard to concentrate on the mission profile, without too much success.  He was darned sure that his Captain’s disgruntlement with the COB had as much to do with him as it did Sharkey.  


On the last cruise, after they had gotten the Bell back on board and Nelson was declared cured, Lee had made himself scarce.  There always seemed to be some job somewhere that required his attention.  Usually he would drop in on the Admiral in his cabin after his watch, just to have a brief visit and maybe a ‘splash’ of whiskey.  He had been notably absent on the cruise back to Santa Barbara.  For his part Nelson had let it pass, he was suppose to be resting and figured he would talk to Lee when they docked.  Then Lee took off on leave so fast there had been no time to speak to him.  Having weighed anchor and sailed off on his ‘home’ there was no way Nelson could even drop in on him.  Blast and tarnation Lee, why can’t you live in a house or an apartment.  This is to damn convenient for you to get away.  Which I suppose is the whole point.  Nelson would have to wait until Lee got back to talk to him. 


Lee managed to avoid Nelson by arriving at the boat after the Admiral had already boarded Seaview.  He did not go to see Nelson when he came aboard, as was his custom, he simply started the departure preparations. 


No, the Admiral was under no illusion that Lee wasn’t more than a little pissed with him that he’d taken Sharkey into his confidence rather than him.  Concentrating on that fact, he’d overlooked how Lee might now view his COB.


Fine mess you’ve caused here Harriman!


He was interrupted from his self-incrimination session by a knock on his door.


“Come in.”


Not totally unexpected, Chief Sharkey opened the door and entered.


“Begging the Admiral’s pardon, but could I have a word with you Sir?”


“Yes Francis, come in, have a seat.”


Nelson had a pretty good idea what the ‘word’ was going to be about.  Sharkey would want an explanation of the roster changes.  Not that it was his business to question them, but Sharkey being Sharkey, it would be an unbearable itch to him until he knew anything and everything there was to know about it.


“Sir, I noticed that Captain Crane has some unusual watches this cruise.  Not that it is my place to question, Sir, but is there anything I should know about?  You know, just so I’m ready to do whatever needs to be done, Sir.”


Oh Sharkey, Sharkey, Sharkey, what am I going to do with you?


“Well Francis, it seems our good Captain is a mite annoyed with us.”


“With us, Sir?  Why would he be....ah....the last cruise.”


“Yes Francis, the last cruise.”


Ya, I figured I was getting off too light over that.  I was insubordinate, Sir.  No question about that.”


“There’s a big question about it Francis.  You were obeying my orders, and I do outrank the Captain.”


“Yes Sir, but I don’t think that’s exactly how the Skipper sees it in this case.”


“No, I expect not.”


“Sir, should I go apologize to the Captain?  Or....should I submit my resignation?”


He hadn’t come out and said it, but it hadn’t escaped his notice that the roster changes were such that he’d never be on duty in the Control Room the same time the Skipper was.  He was sure the Admiral and the XO had spotted that fact as well.


I sure don’t want to leave, but if the Skipper doesn’t want to work with me, then of the two of us I’ll be the one to go.


“Neither Francis, Captain Crane is giving himself some space to work through this, let’s give him that opportunity.  I’m sure when he’s ready he’ll be talking to both of us.”


“Uh yes Sir.  Thank you Sir.  I’ll just be getting back to the Missile Room then Sir.”


“Fine, fine Francis.”




Lee had his nose buried in his pile of paperwork.  He could tell by the ‘feel’ of the boat that everything was running smoothly, at least from a mechanical point of view.  It was an uncomplicated run down to the Panama Canal, then about 10 hours to pass through the locks and another two days to Lee County, Florida.  They wouldn’t be running at flank speed.  It was a simple scoop and snap mission and they had lots of time.  Thankfully, no world shattering issues were involved.




The Panama Canal crossing would be a long day, as Captain he needed to be ‘on deck’ for the entire process.  The Canal was open 24 hours a day but they reserved the morning hours for the larger vessels passing through.  Seaview was scheduled as the first boat at 0800.  This would be almost immediately after his 0000-0700 watch.  He could, of course, change his watch, in all likelihood Chip would soon be on him to do just that.  He had been rather surprised that his XO hadn’t been after him about the changes already. 


Lee had never required much in the way of sleep, in fact if he got much more that 5 or 6 hours at a time he tended to feel lethargic afterwards.  He had no explanation for it, it was just the way it was.  If he’d been left wounded after a mission or severely sleep deprived then his body would shut him down for a long stretch, then go right back to its usual rhythm.  It drove Dr. Jamieson, the CMO of the boat crazy.  Lee had once heard Jamie muttering to himself about him, One of these days I’m going to get his genome run and I won’t be the least bit surprised if it isn’t entirely human!


Still, Lee knew he’d be pushing his limits with the way he’d arranged his shifts. 


When they went through the Canal he’d have a one hour break from his 0000-0700 watch before they entered the first lock at 0800.  Then 10 hours on Lock Watch before exiting the final lock, which would mean he’d be one hour into his 1700-0000 watch, assuming there were no holdups.  He’d be on duty for 24 hours straight at the end of that watch, not that he’d have a lot to do.  The Seaview’s line handlers and the Canal pilots would do most of the work, the Chief Pilot telling Lee what they required of Seaview.  Usually not much more than ‘all ahead slow’, then sit and wait some more, and stay awake.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, he’d then begin his 0000-0700 watch close to the time they exited the last lock.




On the cruise to the Canal nothing of note had gone on and he had frequently turned the conn over to whichever Lieutenant had been on duty with him.  He then either parked himself in the nose to review and signoff status reports, or walked through Seaview looking for things to do.  Trouble was everything was shipshape.  Not a bolt out of place, a screw loose or a wire to reattach.  Not hard to understand after viewing the reports on work details and inspections.  It appeared that Sharkey was outdoing himself in making sure Seaview was perfect.  Lee couldn’t find a single thing to complain about or do.


Chip, after updating Lee on anything that happened, or mostly didn’t happen, on his watch, would sometimes hang around for a bit before leaving.  Lee not being in a talkative mood these days he didn’t press.  Just stayed long enough to let Lee open up if he wanted to, so far nothing.


Admiral Nelson usually showed up at least once, settling down in his ‘front porch’, ostensibly to do some paper work or ‘admire the view’.  Lee wasn’t sure what ‘view’ this was since it was night and there was nothing to see.  A couple of times Nelson had invited him to join him but Lee always managed to find an excuse not to.  To his surprise, Nelson stopped asking, but Lee got the feeling that it wasn’t from disinterest in him.  Often, when Lee looked up from the chart he was studiously pretending to be engrossed in, it was to find the Admiral watching him, then he’d get up and leave with a nod and a ‘goodnight Lee.’




“Man Pat, this sure is a weird cruise, the Skipper on the early and late watches.  I hear the Admiral sits in the nose every once in awhile, Skipper doesn’t talk to him, he doesn’t talk to the Skipper.”  Kowalski shook his head, I just don’t get it.


“Bruce is on sonar during the 0000-0700 watch, he says the Admiral sometimes sits there and just stares at the Skipper.  The Skipper pretends to be busy with charts or something.  You’re right, really weird.”


“You know who’s fault this is, don’t you?”


Just then Sharkey entered the crew’s mess.


“Hey, what are you two chowderheads talking about?” he asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.


Pat started to say something but Ski booted him under the table.


“Nothing Chief, just yakking.”


“Uh huh, what say we get Riley and play some poker.”


Ski started to get up, “Not me Chief, ah, I’ve got a couple of things to do.”


Ya, well ok, maybe later.”


Ski left the mess room.


“Hey Pat, something eatin’ at Ski?”


“I think he’d just worried about the Skipper and the Admiral.  Things seem a little strange between them right now.”


“Ah ya, that.  Maybe I’ll go have a talk with Ski.”


“I don’t think that’s such a good idea Chief.”


“Did I ask your opinion, Patterson?”


“OK, Chief, OK, just saying.”


Sharkey rolled his eyes and stomped out of the room.


Patterson watched the door slam shut behind Sharkey, This sure isn’t my idea of a relaxing cruise.




Sharkey found Ski in the missile room.


“Hey Ski, come over here.”


“Yes, Chief, want something?”


“Pat tells me you got a burr under your saddle about the Admiral and the Skipper.”


Kowalski didn’t say anything.


“Well kid, out with it.”


“I’ve got no problem with the Admiral or the Skipper.”


Sharkey had noticed that Ski had seemed to be avoiding him this cruise.


“So, you got somebody else you got a problem with?”

Ya, guess you could say that.”


Sharkey was getting impatient.


“Like I said, out with it, what’s your beef?”


“You, you’re my beef Chief.  If you had of told the Skipper that the Admiral needed help, or at least let me try to deliver the message so I could tell him, then the Skipper wouldn’t be standing those stupid watches and trying to avoid the Admiral....and you.”


“Look Ski, you don’t understand...”


“I understand just fine, you can do anything you want, even disobeying the Skipper and it’s all just fine.  Well maybe it isn’t so fine with the Skipper, or some of the rest of us.”  Ski figured the next words out of Sharkey’s mouth would be, ‘you’re on report’.


“Ok Ski.  I understand how you feel.  Maybe you should finish what you were doing here then hit your bunk.”  Sharkey turned and left.


Sharkey went back to the mess room, thankfully, it was empty.  He filled his coffee cup and sat down to mull things over.


I suppose I could have mentioned that everyone knows the Skipper has a soft spot for him.  He thought about that for a bit, recalling times when he was ragging on Ski for something in the Skipper’s hearing.  The Skipper never interfered, even when, Sharkey had to admit, his rants might have been just a bit unfair.  Heck, if the Skipper had stopped me I would have been p-o’d but good.  Would have lost the respect of the crew, sure wouldn’t have been able to trust Ski to obey my orders.....oh damn!


Sharkey wasn’t sure what to do with his new-found insight, but he’d think of something.




Seaview was entering the Gatun Lock, the last before exiting into the Caribbean and Lee had to admit to himself that he was tired.  He always found that not having anything much to do would weary him more than if he was busy. 




Clearing the last lock Lee set their course for the Gulf of Mexico and then gave the conn over to Lieutenant Baker. 


“I’ll be in my cabin if you need me for anything.”


“Aye aye Sir.”


The Lieutenant hoped Captain Crane would be getting some rest, though he doubted his Captain would ever sack out when on duty.  Actually I’m not sure he ever sleeps, on or off duty.  He certainly looks tired right now.


 A couple of hours later Baker heard someone coming down the nose ladder, he glanced up and then took a quick look around the control room to make sure everything was as it should be.  The crew caught the ‘once over’ and immediately sat or stood a little straighter, and displayed deep concentration.


The Admiral nodded to the Lieutenant and scanned the area.


“Captain Crane is elsewhere?”


“Yes Sir, in his cabin Sir.  Working on reports I believe.”


“I see.  Everything shipshape here?”


“Yes Sir.  Captain Crane is available in an instant should he be required.”


Nelson hid a smile.  Interesting, that’s not what I asked.  Baker’s doing a little Captain butt covering it seems.  Chip trains them well.


“Very well Mr. Baker, carry on.”


“Aye aye Sir.  Thank you Sir.”


Baker heaved a sigh of relief as the Admiral ascended the ladder.  If he felt nervous around Captain Crane he was downright paranoid around Admiral Nelson.  It wasn’t that either officer was unduly hard on the junior officers.  It was just that they were the best there was and he didn’t want to be found lacking in their eyes.  Mr. Morton made it perfectly clear to all the junior officers that he would not be pleased should any of them not measure up, and you most definitely did not want to ‘displease’ Mr. Morton.




Harry wasn’t sure if he should go see Lee in his cabin or not.  It was 2030, not late but he knew Lee had gone straight from his early watch into the Lock watch, then another watch, so far that was over 21 hours on duty.  If Lee stuck to the roster then he’d be planning to stand his 0000-0700 watch, bringing his total hours on continuous duty up to 31.


I might be willing to let him do 14 hour stands of duty while he works this out but no way he’s doing 31!  I don’t think it’s humanly possible, even for him.


As he approached Lee’s cabin he saw Chip slowly closing the door.  As Chip turned towards him Nelson raised a questioning eyebrow.


Chip took the few steps over to him, “Sound asleep at his desk, Sir.”


“I see.  I don’t imagine he’ll be too pleased about that when he wakes up.”


“No Sir, not likely but I can’t see that anything else could have been expected.  I know you said to give him time to work out what’s bothering him but I was planning to offer to take his 0000-0700 watch.”


“Hmmm, interesting, I was planning to ‘volunteer’ you myself.”


Harry had actually planned to take the watch but he didn’t see any reason to tell Chip that.  He gave Chip a pat on the shoulder and moved to Lee’s door.  Giving Chip a wink he knocked rather louder than usual.  When he heard Lee’s ‘come’ he started to open the door, paused and started a conversation with Chip that Chip didn’t quite understand for a moment, then clued in.


“Yes Mr. Morton I think that is a very good idea.  As a matter of fact it’s just what I was planning to discuss with Captain Crane.”


Chip grinned.  Between the loud knock and the delay while the Admiral talked to me Lee should have had time to scramble into an appearance of wakefulness.  He watched Lee’s door close then headed to the wardroom to grab a snack before he’d be on duty, he had no doubt that he would be standing the 0000-0700 watch.




“Buried in paperwork I see Lee.”


“Ah yes Sir.  Is there a problem?”


“No, none at all.  I’ve arranged with Chip to stand your 0000-0700 watch, I think that 24 hours on duty is more than enough for anyone, including you Captain.”


Lee thought about arguing the point but one look at the Admiral’s face and he knew he wasn’t going to be standing that watch no matter what.


“Yes, Sir, as you wish.”


Nelson sighed inwardly, Still all prim and proper with me are you lad.  “Lee I sent a message to ‘Catfish’5 that we’re going to be around Florida for a few days, you know we have a standing invitation for dinner whenever we’re in the area so you can expect to be flying us over Daytona Beach way at some point.”


Lee perked up at this news, “Yes, Sir.”


Nelson was pleased to note that for a moment Lee’s eyes lost their brooding look at the mention of dinner with Carol.  They both enjoyed visiting with their mutual friend, who had provided invaluable library research on more than one occasion.


He glanced down at Lee’s desk and noticed a sheet of paper with a bunch of N’s and S’s scrawled haphazardly on it.  He thought he made out a stylized wolf’s head as well.  It appears Lee doodles while he thinks, at least about some things.


“Well I don’t want to keep you from your work Lee, after 0000 I do not expect you to be in the Control Room again until 1700.”


“Understood, Sir.”  Although I have no clue what I’m going to do with all the time in between. This paperwork is only going to last a couple of more hours.  Damn good thing he didn’t catch me asleep at my desk!  Or Chip!




Harry left Lee’s cabin somewhat satisfied for the moment, at least Lee would have a good stretch of off duty time.  The ‘old’ Lee would have put up a fight about being replaced on a watch, but then the ‘old’ Lee wouldn’t be on those watches in the first place.  Right now I’ve got the ‘Navy’ Lee, Yes Sir, No Sir, three bags full Sir.  My own stupid fault.




Lee finished the report he’d been working on when he’d fallen asleep, then left his cabin for the Control Room.  Lieutenant Baker reported all was well, just as Lee expected.  Lee was a bit surprised when he checked the duty roster and saw that Chip had already made the change.  Not wasting any time I see Chip.  Wonder who decided to ‘bump’ me first, you, or the Admiral!


Lee was a hell of a lot more surprised when he saw another change.


He practically ripped the mic out of its holder, “Mr. Morton, please report to the Control Room, NOW.”


Chip was still in the wardroom when he heard the hail.  “Oh hell,” he mumbled.  Dr. Jamieson happened to be sitting at the table with Chip, having a coffee with the Exec.


“He doesn’t sound to happy Chip.”


“Nope, don’t expect he is Doc.”


“Care to share?”


“Not really, but you might want to get a bunk ready for me.”  With that cryptic comment Chip headed out.


Admiral Nelson had also heard the hail, and judged, by the tone of Lee’s voice, that it might be a good idea for him to also head to the Control Room.  He had no idea what had happened but it appeared Chip was in deep ‘doo doo’ with his Captain.




Crane beckoned Chip forward to the nose and closed the sliding doors.


“Mr. Morton would you care to explain the changes to the duty roster?”


Chip stood at attention, this was not going to be pleasant.


“I believe you are aware that Admiral Nelson stood you down from the 0000-0700 watch Sir.  I am taking that watch now.”


“That’s not the change I’m referring to and you bloody well know it Mister.”


It was at this point that Harry came down the ladder.


“Trouble gentlemen?”


Chip wisely kept quiet, it wasn’t for him to answer the Admiral.


“Nothing I can’t handle Admiral,” Lee replied.


“Fine, fine.”  Nelson took a seat in the nose.


Lee was not happy; he didn’t need or want Nelson here for this.


“Admiral this is a matter between Mr. Morton and myself.”


“So I gather Captain, please carry on.”


As Nelson made no sign he was planning to leave Lee had only two choices, dismiss Chip and deal with him later, or demand an explanation now.


Oh why the hell not, I’m tired of always being the one who has to back down.  Of course Lee knew that wasn’t really fair, he’d won his share of arguments with the Admiral, but this was different somehow.


“Mr. Morton, I’m waiting for your explanation.”


“Yes Sir.  The other duty change you are referring to is the one for the COB, is that correct, Sir?”


“You know damn well it is.”


Nelson looked at Chip, Dammit Chip, I told you to leave things alone, what have you gone and done?


“Captain, Chief Sharkey requested a change to his watches, I am not aware of any difficulty these changes should cause, Sir.”  Well I am but since you haven’t discussed anything with me I get to pretend I don’t know a thing, so there.


“What reason did Chief Sharkey give for his request?”


Morton took a deep breath and cast a quick glance the Admiral’s way, not missed by Lee.


“Mr. Morton, I am addressing you, the Admiral is not, and you will direct your attention to me.”


“Sir, yes Sir.”


Shit thought Lee, how the hell did I get into this situation, chewing Chip out in front of the Admiral.  Chip must be ready to shoot me out a torpedo tube.


For his part Chip felt he was bearing it all quite stoically.


Lee ran his hand back and forth through his hair, a gesture of frustration with which both Nelson and Chip were quite familiar.


“I’m awaiting your answer Mr. Morton.”


“Sir, Chief Sharkey’s stated reason for requesting the changes in his shifts was, to quote, ‘so I can be available as COB to support and assist the Captain during his watches’, Sir.”


Lee knew it wasn’t an unreasonable request, the COB would normally stand quite a few of the same watches as the Captain.  Lee had been hoping that Sharkey would take the hint that he didn’t want him around. 


Lee glanced at Nelson, who was sitting back in his chair with a relaxed but interested expression on his face.


Oh I bet you’re just loving this, watching me try to squirm my way out of this.


Lee looked back at Chip and heard the Admiral clear his voice.


“Captain this might me a good time for me to ask a question that has been puzzling me and your Exec, just why did you change your normal watches?”


“Personal reasons, Sir.”


“I see, then I don’t think it unreasonable for the COB to have accommodated himself to your changes.  Rather shows a certain depth of devotion to you I’d say.”


Ya, I’m sure you would.


“That’s one way of looking at it, Sir.”


“Would you care to share another way of viewing it Captain?”


“No Sir.”


“Then I take it we are through here and Mr. Morton may begin his watch, as I see it’s now 0015.”


“Of course, Sir.  Mr. Morton you have the conn.”


“Aye aye, Sir.”




Lee slammed the door to his cabin, not really caring who heard it.  Well that was a ton of fun.  Now the Admiral is running interference for Chip as well as Sharkey. 


In his heart Lee knew he wasn’t being fair, Chip hadn’t done anything wrong and didn’t deserve to have Lee jump on him with hobnail boots.  Roster changes were Chip’s responsibility and as Nelson had pointed out, Sharkey’s request wasn’t unreasonable.  My real problem here is that I still haven’t figured out how to handle the whole Sharkey/Nelson situation.  Obviously trying to avoid them is not a long-term solution.




Chip had opened the sliding doors and did a circuit of the Control Room when Lee left.  The crew was curious as to what was going on, and then got a whole lot more curious when the Admiral, who was still in the nose motioned Chip to come forward again and again the sliding doors were closed.


Ski and Pat had asked Brian to report anything ‘interesting’ during his watch.  Hope they can figure out what’s going on because I sure can’t.




“Well Chip, care to give me any more of an explanation than you provided Lee?”


“That was the honest truth Admiral.  Sharkey approached me with his ‘basset hound’ look and requested that some of his watches be switched to match Lee’s.”


“So this isn’t something you and Sharkey cooked up to try and prod Lee along?”


“No Sir, you told me to leave things alone for now.  I couldn’t really come up with a good reason to deny Sharkey’s request.”


“Hmmm, I see.  I told Sharkey the same thing but it doesn’t seem to have worked with him.  I don’t suppose it occurred to you to just say ‘No’ to the request, as XO you don’t need to provide a reason.”


Chip had the good grace to flush a little.  “Well, ah, Sir, once Sharkey made the request it did seem to me like it might, as you say, ‘prod’ Lee a bit.  On Seaview we do try to accommodate any reasonable requests made.  This being a ‘leisurely’ cruise it would have seemed odd for me to have denied the change.”


“Yes, I suppose it would have.  We’ll have to keep a close eye on our Captain and Sharkey, I don’t want things to go from bad to worse.”


Nelson headed back to his cabin and Chip to his increasingly curious Control Room crew.


Nelson wanted to do something about the mess between him, Lee and Sharkey but he believed that what he told Chip really was the best way to handle things.  They needed to give Lee time and space to come to terms with things himself.  Lee would approach him once he'd done that, only trouble was there was no guarantee that Lee would see things his way.  Nelson knew he was probably in for a stormy meeting when the time came. He took comfort in the fact that so far Lee hadn't plunked a resignation down on his desk.  Didn't mean he wouldn't at some point and Nelson would deal with it if he had to.  He’d make Lee see that his taking Sharkey into his confidence was not a reflection on his feelings about Lee, either personally or professionally, at least not a negative one.




The remaining part of the cruise to Lee County was, as it had been from the start, uneventful.  Lee did find having Sharkey on watch with him somewhat uncomfortable but not for the reason he had anticipated.  Every order Lee gave to Sharkey was carried out with embarrassing efficiency, “Aye aye Sir, right away Sir.”


Even orders to other crew members saw Sharkey overseeing them with, “You heard the Skipper, let’s see some hustle, when he says ‘jump’ you ‘jump’, knucklehead.”




Chip threw down the duty roster in complete disgust.  Lee and Sharkey had made a mess of it.  He’d changed it so many times for them that he couldn’t figure out when the two of them were on, they seemed to hop all over the place.




Lee heaved himself out of his bunk and gave an exasperated sigh, scrubbing his hand through his hair.  Chip must be ready to kill me, even I’m not sure what watch I’m standing next.  It’s almost like a game, I change and the next thing I know Sharkey has changed to match me.  God if I hear one more ‘Aye Aye Sir, right away Sir’ out of him I’m going to throttle the man.


After a quick shower Lee put on his uniform and headed for the wardroom for some coffee and to grab whatever portable food was out and then head to the Control Room.




Nelson chuckled softly to himself when he heard Lee’s cabin door close.  Lee wasn’t in the habit of slamming his door but lately it was certainly getting closed with a little more gusto.  Captain Crane is up, everyone duck!  While Nelson had initially been quite annoyed with Sharkey for ignoring his advice to leave Lee alone he found that he was almost enjoying watching the two of them dancing around each other.  Sharkey being the ever-faithful hound dog at Lee’s side and Lee trying to shake him loose.


Chip had been in to see Nelson earlier, with the almost unreadable roster from all the changes scribbled on it.  Nelson had given Chip’s shoulder a comforting pat, “Don’t worry about it Chip, it’s an easy cruise and I’m sure that Lee will see to it that there is always an officer in the Control Room.”


“An ‘easy’ cruise Sir, I’m sorry but I have to differ with you there.”  Chip had heaved a huge sigh.


“It’ll all come right Chip, just give it time.”


“Aye aye Sir, I sure hope you’re right and that it doesn’t take much longer.”  Chip departed Nelson’s cabin, not feeling all that optimistic.


Poor Chip, I think this is, in some ways, harder on him than me.  I had hoped that Lee and I could spend quite a bit of time together on this cruise but he’s doing an ‘admirable’ job of being an invisible Captain when it comes to me.




Lee strode into the  Control Room, took a quick look around.  He nodded to Lt. O’Brien then continued to the chart table where Chip was standing, arms crossed glaring at him.  “A little early for your shift aren’t you Captain?  I think I’m still on for a couple more hours, although I admit it’s getting hard to tell.”


Lee had the good grace to duck his head for a moment as he looked at Chip.  He took the roster from its resting place and glanced at it.  Ya, I see what Chip means, I have made a pretty good mess of it.  He made a decision.


“Mr. Morton I owe you an apology, I seem to have made quite a muddle of your roster, no excuses.”


Chip wasn’t sure where this was going but at least Lee was sounding more like himself.


“Yes Sir, no argument from me on that.”  He waited.


“If you would be so good as to redo the roster Mr. Morton I’ll be in my cabin when you are ready for me to review it.”


“Aye Sir.  Ummmm, any preferences as to your watches, Sir?”

“None Mr. Morton, assign me as you deem appropriate, you’ve always done a fine job with it, carry on.”


“Aye aye, Sir.  It will be ready shortly.”


“Very well.”  With that Lee headed up the nose ladder to his cabin, he didn’t think he’d have long to wait for the ‘new and improved’ duty roster.


Chip grinned at Lee’s retreating back.  Finally, be more than happy to straighten this mess out.  Chip handed to conn over to O`Brien, “If you need me I’ll be in my cabin working on the new roster, shouldn’t take long.”


“Aye aye sir,” O’Brien responded with a smile.


Chip headed up the same ladder Lee had used.  He’d have the roster in about 30 seconds from the time he arrived at his cabin, he still had the original one he’d done saved on his computer, all he needed to do was adjust the dates and print it out.




Lee had barely settled down to some paper work when there was a knock on his door.  “Come”


Chip entered with full navy formality and presented the duty roster to Lee, “as requested, Sir”.  He remained at attention in front of Lee’s desk, fighting hard not to grin.


Lee saw the corner’s of Chips mouth twitching, he wasn’t fooled for a minute and decided to play along.


“What took you so long Mr. Morton?  I’ve been waiting at least 3 minutes.”


“No excuses, Sir.”  Then Chip couldn’t control his grin any longer.


Lee answered with one of his own.  “You have this posted above your bunk just waiting for me to come to my senses?”


“Something like that.”  Chip answered as he sprawled in a chair opposite Lee.


“I don’t remember giving you permission to ‘stand at ease’.”


“Must have slipped your mind.  I know you meant to.”  Chip smarted back to Lee.


“Been a royal ass haven’t I.”


“Not sure I’d say ‘royal’.”


“Ouch.  I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do about the Admiral and Sharkey.”


“Which one are you more pissed at?”


It didn’t escape Lee’s notice that Chip seemed to already know what was bothering him.  Guess it really didn’t take a mind reader to figure it out and Chip is very good at ‘reading’ me, sometimes a little too good.


“I’m really only allowed to be ‘pissed’ at Sharkey.  The Admiral, well he’s the Admiral, he can do as he pleases, trust who he pleases.”


“Bullshit Lee.  Everyone knows there’s a lot more between Nelson and you than Admiral and Captain.  You’re close friends, maybe more.”


Lee’s eyebrows rose at the last two words.


Chip continued, “Your friend was in trouble, BIG life endangering trouble and he didn’t tell you.  Not only are you his friend but you are also responsible for his boat and its crew and he was a danger to them as well, and still he didn’t tell you.  It’s ok for you to be mad at him.  Do you think he doesn’t know something about how you feel, and that you are purposely avoiding him?”


“I’ve been more focused on thinking about Sharkey.”


“And avoiding dealing with your feelings around the Admiral’s actions.  You need to deal with them both.  He’s a big boy Lee; he can take a dressing down if that’s what you need to do.”


“A Captain does not ‘dress down’ an Admiral, Chip.”


“Like I said, you two are more than that, you need to talk to him about his choices on that cruise, one as Captain to Admiral, and two as friend to friend.  Then you need to decide what to do about Sharkey.  I think you’re undecided about that because you haven’t straightened things out with Nelson yet.”


Chip wasn’t sure what to make of the odd look Lee was giving him.


Lee leaned back in his chair.


“I guess I missed it Chip but at what point did you get your psychology degree?”


Lee didn’t seem angry but Chip wasn’t sure if he’d overstepped a line somewhere, Lee’s weren’t always clearly defined but he let you know when you crossed one.


“Don’t look so worried Chip.  I’m just impressed with you analyses of the situation.”


“It’s always easier to see what’s going on if you’re on the outside looking in rather than in the middle of things.”


“You’re never ‘on the outside’ Chip, don’t ever think that.  I couldn’t ask for a better friend than you buddy.  I know it isn’t always easy on you.”


“You got that right, but I wouldn’t change things between us.”


Both men were starting to feel a little uncomfortable; discussing their personal feelings was not something either one of them was at ease with.


Lee looked at the roster again, “I see that you’ve been rather generous towards me duty wise, I’m not on for quite awhile.”


“I thought you might want to take the opportunity to deal with some things before your next watch.” 


“Point taken Mr. Morton.  Please post the roster.  I believe I am overdue in the Admiral’s cabin.  He is in his cabin, isn’t he?”


“Last I heard Skipper.  If he isn’t there he could be in his lab, do you want me to locate him?”


“No, I can find him on my own.”


“Aye Sir, and...good luck.”




Finding Nelson was not as easy as Lee thought it would be.  A knock on the Admiral’s door brought no response, so Lee headed for the Lab.


As Lee was knocking at Nelson’s door, Nelson was leaving his Lab, heading for the missile room to check on some equipment for the samples he wanted collected at the reef sites.


Lee knocked on the Lab door and poked his head in, no Nelson.


Hmmm, not in his cabin or the Lab.  Wonder if he’s checking on something in the missile room, we did bring some new sampling equipment on board.




“Yes Sir, the Admiral was here checking the equipment but he left a few minutes before you arrived.”  Kowalski told Lee.


“Did he say where he was going, Ski?”


“No Sir, he didn’t.”


“Very well, carry on.”


“Aye Sir.”


Probably went back to his cabin.




Lee arrived at Nelson’s cabin again and knocked, once again there was no answer.


Nelson had headed to the Control Room after leaving the missile room and was smiling in approval at Chip’s new roster.


“So Lee requested that you redo this?”


“Yes Sir, as you can see he’s already approved it and it’s been posted.”


“Very good Mr. Morton, very good indeed.”


Before Chip could say anything else, Nelson headed up the ladder.


Guess Lee hasn’t caught up with him yet.


At that moment Lee entered the Control Room through the aft hatch.


“Chip have you seen the Admiral?”


“Yes Lee, he just left here.”


Chip noted the exasperated look on Lee’s face and guessed that Lee had been one-step behind the Admiral for a while.


“Fine, I give up.”


Lee picked up a mic, “Captain Crane to Admiral Nelson, please respond.”


“Yes Captain, Nelson here.”


“Admiral I’d like to have a word with you, please advise when that would be convenient.”


“I’m not busy at the moment Lee, come to my cabin.”


“Aye Sir, I’ll be right there.”


Lee hung the mic up and turned to Chip, “The next time you offer to find the Admiral for me, remind me to say Yes.”




Lee knocked on Nelson’s cabin door, no answer.


Not again, he said he was here.


Lee opened the door enough to stick his head in, “Admiral, are you here?”




Lee wasn’t sure if he should just go in and park himself and wait for Nelson to turn up, or get on the mic and hail him again.


“Lee, Lee, I’m coming!”


Lee turned around to see Nelson walking swiftly down the corridor towards him, he was balancing a covered tray in one hand and carrying a box of crackers in the other.


“Sorry Lee, I just went down to the galley to get us a snack, Applewood Smoked Cheddar Cheese and some Italian garlic sausage.”


Lee wasn’t quite sure what reply to make to this development.


“Ah, that’s very thoughtful of you, Admiral.”


He followed the Admiral into the cabin.  He saw that Nelson already had a bottle of Scotch on his desk with two glasses.  Lee didn’t recognize the label.


“Have a seat Lee, let me pour you some Talisker, 10 year.”


“This is new isn’t it Admiral, I think the last whiskey I had with you was Laphroaig.”


“You’re right, as I recall it came as a bit of a shock to you.”


“It was certainly peatier than I’d ever had before.”


“You’ll enjoy this one.  It’s from the Isle of Skye, starts out sweet and lightly smoky, but has a chilli-pepper hit in the finish.”  Robert Louis Stevenson was quite fond of it.”


“If you say so Sir.”  Lee took the offered glass and carefully sipped it.


“Very nice.”


Nelson lifted the cover off the tray and Lee saw that there were two plates, one with slices of smoked cheese and the other with rounds of sausage.  Nelson passed it and the box of crackers to Lee along with a small plate and napkin.  Lee obediently took some of the snack items and put them on his plate.  Nelson then sat back and began sipping his own glass of scotch.


Lee had no idea how to begin, he felt more like he was a guest at Nelson’s home than his sub Captain come to discuss an important matter.  He was saved from having to come up with an opening by the Admiral.


“I’ve missed you lad.”


Lee took a large sip of scotch and decided that neither he nor the Admiral wanted to play games right now.


“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our last cruise and wondering why it was you couldn’t or maybe wouldn’t trust me.”


OK, no beating around the bushes, straight into it then. 


“It was never a matter of trust Lee, there’s no one I trust more than you.”


“Yet you went to Sharkey when the virus reoccurred, you put yourself, the boat and the crew at risk.  You left me in the dark, wondering why I suddenly had an insubordinate COB that was receiving your support and protection, and don’t give me the same line you did then, that I had enough to worry about already.”


Nelson poured Lee more scotch, he’d been absently sipping on it as he talked to Nelson and had finished most of it without noticing. 


Harry smiled to himself. Not exactly the way most Admirals handle discussions with their Captain, trying to get him sloshed.


“That was the truth Lee.  I had been to see Doc and I knew there was nothing you could do about it.  You didn’t need the added pressure.”


“As Chip recently said to me Admiral, bullshit!  There was something that could be done about it.  Not to mention that, if for no other reason than the safety of Seaview and the crew, you should have told me.”


“The something that could be done we found by accident.  I don’t think I, you or Doc would have come up with the nitrogen solution before it was too late, if ever.  I have to admit that as far as crew safety goes, you have a point.”


Lee snorted, he realized that he probably wasn’t going to get more on that subject out of Nelson.  He noticed that the Admiral was filling both their glasses again and a flash of suspicion presented itself in his increasingly fuzzy forebrain.


“Ah Sir, you wouldn’t happen to be trying to impair my cognitive abilities, would you?  I’m on duty in a few hours.”


“I’m sure Chip can work around that if necessary, Lee.”


“Well before you succeed there are still a couple of points I want to make.”


Nelson took a large swallow.  Well it had been worth a try.


“Yes, Lee.”


“While you were worrying about my ability to cope....”


The Admiral tried to break in at this point but Lee put up his hand.


“Let me finish.  Did it ever occur to you that there might have been some things I’d have liked to say to you before we had to shoot you dead or you dropped dead on your own?  How much I’ve appreciated your friendship, the opportunities you’ve given me.”


This time Lee took a large gulp.  “Just what it’s meant to have you as my boss, mentor, friend and......”  The last word was lost as Lee took another drink.


“I wasn’t thinking all that clearly Lee.  I was having my own thoughts about how much you meant to me, lad.  How I could make it easier for you.”


“Easier for me, that was supposed to be easier?????”


This time Lee reached for the bottle himself.


“Seemed like a good idea at the time, and things did work out.”  Nelson responded.


“Admiral I have to know that you won’t keep something like that from me again.  As your Captain it’s crucial that I know when you are impaired, whatever the reason.  As your friend I deserve to know, even if you think it would be difficult for me.  Having you not trust me is far more difficult.  It hurt a lot that you chose Sharkey to confide in over me.” 


Nelson looked at Lee, the hurt evident in Lee’s hazel eyes.  He moved his chair closer to Lee and reached out to stroke his hand through Lee’s hair, bringing it to rest cupping the back of Lee’s neck and softly spoke,


“You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn't hurt at all.”6

Lee recognized the song and felt his throat constricting at the depth of feeling that he didn’t doubt Harry was trying to convey to him but couldn’t put in his own words.  Lee responded in kind with a truncated verse from a popular song by The Pretenders7:


When you’re standing at the crossroads

And don’t know which path to choose

Let me come along

‘cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you

Take me in, into your darkest hour

And I’ll never desert you

I’ll stand by you


Lee and Harry both downed the last of the scotch in their glasses and Harry moved to retrieve the bottle.


“Ah Admiral, given that we seem to be quoting song lyrics to each other, I think maybe we’ve had too much.”


“If either of us can still pour, we’re fine.”


“I wish I could figure out what to do about Sharkey.”


“He wasn’t really being insubordinate Lee; I did order him to keep what he knew to himself.  He was only following orders, granted not yours in this case, but mine.”


“I know that, but under the circumstances he should have realized that you weren’t in your right mind, that you needed help and that you represented a danger to the boat and crew.  He should have informed me.  Instead he interferes with my order to Ski, ignores my order to him that he’s confined to his cabin, then later, when you order him to lower you to the bottom in the Bell, he doesn’t report that you are out of your cabin and trying to kill yourself.”


Nelson looked chagrined; he had to admit that Lee had some very good points.


“To be honest Lee I wasn’t sure myself what I planned to do when I ordered Sharkey to lower the Bell, I just knew I had to isolate myself from Seaview and her crew.”


Lee ran his hand through his hair, a gesture Nelson was seeing a lot of on this cruise.  Lee was frustrated and a little tipsy.  Nelson carefully got out of his chair, feeling the effects of the fine Scotch himself.  He reached down for Lee’s arm and drew him out of his chair, then wrapped his arms around Lee giving him a hug.  “Lad I can’t promise you that I’ll never again try to protect you from stupid things I do.  I care too much about you for that.”


Lee had returned Nelson’s embrace and now gave him a particularly hard squeeze saying, as he released his hold, “and I can’t promise you that I won’t come in here and kick your ass if you do...Sir”


Nelson grinned at Lee, ah the truths that Scotch lets loose from our tongues.  Lee would never.....at least I don’t think he would.....


“Lee can you let the whole Sharkey thing just rest?”


“I can’t leave things as they are.  Right now, Sir, I think I need a couple of hours back in my bunk, suddenly feeling rather sleepy.”


“I’ll let Chip know not to expect you for your watch.”


“That’s not necessary Sir, I’m fine.”  At Nelson amused look, Lee carried on, “Well I will be before my watch.  Chip doesn’t have me scheduled for a few hours yet.”


“Very well Captain, have a good rest.”


“Aye Sir, and thanks for the Scotch.”


“We haven’t finished the bottle yet lad, I expect you back.”


Lee smiled at the Admiral as he left.




Lee rubbed at his temple, his headache wasn’t that bad, just annoying.  He had slept for longer than he thought he would and had to rush a bit to get to the Control Room on time.  They were a couple of hours from their first dive site.  When they arrived, they would hold position using the planes, ballast and engines.  Like all submarines they did have an anchor but it was seldom used, and especially not in a reef environment.


“Mr O’Brien you have the conn, I’ll be in the missile room if you need me.”


“Aye aye, Sir.”




Lee looked over at Patterson, “Patterson, bring me the specs on the new holding tank and filter.”


“Aye, Sir.”


Before Pat could take more that a step Lee heard Sharkey’s voice ring out, “Come on Patterson, the Skipper wants those specs, get a move on it.”


Lee had had enough.


“Chief Sharkey,” he barked.


“Aye aye, Sir.”  Sharkey practically ran to stand before Lee.  “What are your orders Sir.”


“Chief is it your opinion that the crew will not obey my orders unless backed up by one of your own?”


Sharkey turned white, “No Sir, not at all Sir.”


“Then is it your opinion that they will carry out my order with less than their best effort without an order from you?”


Sharkey fought to stop his voice from shaking, “No Sir, not at all Sir.”


“Then I don’t expect to hear you repeating my orders with or without your own added encouragement again Chief.  Dismissed.”


“Sir, yes Sir.”  Sharkey did a smart about face and returned to the panel he had been working on.


While the crew in the missile room were sick and tired of Sharkey barking at them whenever the Skipper was around, they still felt sorry for him.  Getting your ass chewed by the Captain was not a pleasant experience.


Pat handed Lee the specs, Lee looked them over and made a couple of adjustments on the tank.


“Patterson make sure everyone understands that they are not to change the tank adjustments without first consulting with either myself or the admiral.”


“Aye, sir.”


Lee left to head back to the Control Room.  Great, why do I feel like I just kicked a homeless puppy.




It was the third day of diving and sample collecting, everything was going extremely well.  Lee and the Admiral had met a couple of times to discuss findings, over one glass of Scotch each.  Lee was looking forward to dinner at Carol’s with the Admiral in a couple of days.  Chip had been disappointed that he couldn’t also go, but someone had to ‘mind the store’.  He took comfort in having been promised a good-sized ‘takeout bag’ of Yankee pot-roast and apple pie, by Carol.






“Yes Sparks?”


“A message has just come in from ONI in your private code Sir.”


Sparks handed it to Lee, “Thanks Sparks.”


Lee looked over at Chip and before he could say anything Chip crossed his arms and glared at him.


Getting to be a habit with him. “What, I didn’t do anything!”


“Care to tell me what that says?”


“No, I don’t even know yet, it’s in code.”


This wasn’t entirely true, it was his private code but he was pretty good at making out most of it without the help of the decoder.  Lee decided to beat a hasty retreat.


“You have the conn Mr. Morton....”


Chip finished the sentence for him, “....I’ll be in my cabin if you need me.”


Lee gave Chip a scowl.  Chip decided to stir the pot some more.


“Shall I have the Admiral join you, Sir?”


“That won’t be necessary, Mr. Morton.  I’ll see the Admiral if it’s required.”


Lee stomped up the ladder, headed to his cabin.


Chip knew the Admiral took a very dim view of ONI pulling Lee away for missions as Lee seldom came back with all the blood, flesh or skin he left with.  That was a best-case scenario, Chip didn’t want to think about the others.  To date neither one of them had been able to talk Lee into resigning from ONI.  Lee had a strong sense of duty.  Long before Seaview came into his life, he had willingly taken the special forces training and excelled at it.  ONI considered him one of the best agents they had ever trained.  Some said he was the best by far.  When Nelson claimed Lee for Seaview it was with the Navy rider that ONI could activate him when required.




Lee eventually used the decoder on the message, just to be sure he was reading it right.


!Proceed to Wakulla Springs, currently closed to divers.  Agent missing with important intelligence package.  Agent was to place package in the Monolith Chamber for retrieval.  We can confirm that the agent started the dive, was not seen again and believed lost in the cave system.  Seaview will have all the equipment you will require.! 


Well I get why me, I’m not that far from the Springs, using FS1 I can be there in hardly any time at all, and everything I need is on Seaview.  Cave diving is risky at the best of times even with a buddy system, going in by myself in a cave system I don’t know.....not surprising the agent was lost.  There’s no way of knowing if he got lost before or after placing the package, it could be anywhere in the system, along with his body.


Lee shuddered at the thought.  He couldn’t imagine to many worse ways to die than lost in an underwater cave system.


There was a knock on his door followed by the door opening and Nelson’s head appearing, Nelson didn’t get a chance to say anything.


Lee was miffed, “Chip told you?”  Going to have a few words with Mr. Morton!


Nelson was confused, “Told me what?”  Then he spotted the message in Lee’s hands, and his face hardened. 


“I haven’t seen Chip but given your reaction I’m guessing you’re holding an assignment from ONI in your hands,” growled Nelson.  He fought a constant battle with ONI about when and how they could obtain Lee’s services.  He thought he had made it clear that any assignments were to be vetted through him first.  The new ONI Admiral apparently wasn’t getting the message.


Lee handed the decoded message to Nelson, there was nothing that said it was on a need to know basis, and anyway, Lee figured Nelson needed to know.  It was his equipment Lee would be taking.


Nelson frowned as he read the assignment.  “So if I’ve got this right, they’ve already lost one agent in the caves and they are sending you in to see if you do any better.”


“I wouldn’t put it exactly like that, Sir.  Cave diving is pretty tricky, I don’t know how experienced the other agent was.  I’ve had all the advanced cave dive training and done a few dives.  I won’t get lost.”


“Even the best get lost upon occasion Lee.  How many men are you planning on taking with you?”


“None, Sir.”


“Excuse me Captain, I don’t believe I heard you correctly.”


Lee had noted that he was ‘Captain’ now, and in the tone of voice that was a sure sign that Nelson was not happy with him. 


“It’s an ONI mission Sir, last time I checked I was the only agent onboard.”


“Thank our lucky stars for that, but you are not cave diving alone.  It’s far too risky.”


“I have to get in and out of a closed area without being seen, I can’t have an ‘army’ of divers tagging after me.  I definitely don’t need the added responsibility of making sure none of them get lost, Sir.”


Nelson pounced on Lee’s statement. “So you’re admitting there is the possibility of getting lost,”


“I’m saying that the more divers there are the more likely it is that one of them will get lost.  I will not get lost.”


“Captain if you expect me to let you take FS1 and any equipment you want off Seaview so you can dive this mission all by yourself you are sadly mistaken.  You will take at least two experienced divers with you, or alternately, I will go along.”


“Sir I will not have you risk yourself, it’s far too dangerous...”  Lee was going to add, ‘at your age’ but stopped himself just in the nick of time.  Nevertheless, he was sure the Admiral heard the unspoken words from the patented Nelson glare he received.  He also realized that he had pretty much lost the argument and would have to agree to take divers with him.


“By you own admission Captain it’s dangerous not to mention that you could get into trouble other than getting lost, and having a couple of divers with you will greatly ease my mind.  If nothing else one of them could signal for help.”


Ya, like I’d ever live that down with ONI.


“Very well Admiral, I’ll take another diver.”


“Two Captain, our best.  Kowalski and Sharkey.”


“Sharkey,” Lee practically yelped.  “Why not Patterson?”


“Patterson is a good diver but Sharkey has more experience.  I could take his place if you’d prefer.”


“No Sir, that won’t be necessary.”


“Fine, fine Lee, glad we could come to an agreement.  When do you want to leave?”


“The sooner we go the sooner we’re back.  Gathering the equipment won’t take long, then I’d like Ski and Sharkey to get a good 8 hours rest before we leave.”


“I expect you to do the same Lee, no argument.”


“Aye, Sir.”




There hadn’t been much in the way of security around the spring basin, which was a good thing as their equipment wasn’t designed for stealth on land.  Lee had scouted the area first to see if he would have to ‘deal’ with any guards before they could enter the water.  No one seemed to be around.  Not likely that they ever have divers show up at 0100.


They quietly wrestled themselves into the rebreathers8 and silently slipped into the black water.  Lee had done some quick research on the area and the fact that the movie ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ had been filmed here seemed very apropos right now, and not particularly reassuring.


They had to chance using their dive lights.  The water was crystal clear but there was no other light source, without the dive lights it would have been like being in a pool of india ink.  At about 160 feet they entered the main cave, also known as tunnel A.  As they moved along, they spotted some of the fossilized remains of mastodons for which the spring was famous.  Lee couldn’t help thinking that under other circumstances this could be a very interesting dive, but right now time was of the essence.


They soon entered a large open area, Lee figured it must be what was called the cave’s Grand Canyon so that meant they were about 225 feet down and 400 feet from the entrance.  They continued on and came to the junction with B tunnel, this was the one Lee wanted to travel down first as it was the one that lead to the Monolith Chamber, the lost agent’s destination.  Before continuing, he checked with Ski and Sharkey to make sure they were doing ok; they were about 1100 feet in now.  All was well so they continued on, and after passing many smaller tunnels finally arrived at the Chamber.  The Monolith Chamber received its name from the rock formation standing in its centre, a 7-foot spire of boulders topped by a pure-white rectangular stone standing on its edge.  To the first divers that saw it, it reminded them of the monolith in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. 


Lee signalled to his companions to start searching around the spire.  If the agent hadn’t made the drop here then it would be a matter of shear blind luck finding it in the myriad of tunnels.  After a few minutes of fruitless poking around Lee backed up from the spire and shone his light over it, then he signalled to Ski and Sharkey to do the same at an equal distance from him and each other, so that they formed a triangle of light playing over the monolith and its spire support.  Lee wasn’t sure what he was looking for but it was something to try.  He noticed that Ski had stopped moving his light and seemed to be concentrating on one spot.  Ski slowly began swimming towards the rocks, keeping his light on one in particular.  He stopped about a foot away from it and signalled for Lee to join him.


Lee followed Ski’s light to the rock and saw what had caught Ski’s attention, there was something glinting in the beam.  He reached into the crevice and withdrew a small metal box, it was tightly sealed and the type that ONI used to protect computer chips.  Lee carefully examined the ends of the box and found two diamonds scratched into the surface on one end.  Yes, this was what they had come for, the agent had made the drop, but why hadn’t he returned?


If Lee had been on his own he knew that he would have gone down some of the other tunnels trying to locate the body and maybe solve the puzzle, but he wouldn’t take that risk with Ski and Sharkey along.  Nice Admiral, really nice.  You outmanoeuvred me this time.  Or did you?  I can go back with Ski and Sharkey just far enough to be sure they can get out, and then I can turn around and look around a bit more.


Lee signalled that they would be heading back.


This was just fine with both of the other men, they were slightly freaked out by the darkness and unaccustomed silence of diving with rebreather gear.


Lee set a faster pace returning but was very careful to frequently check his compass.  Once they were back in tunnel A and had gone far enough along it that he was sure Ski and Sharkey could continue without him he signalled for a stop.  As Ski was closest to him, he pressed the box into Ski’s hand and then indicated that both he and Sharkey should keep going.  The men shook their heads negatively.  Lee was cursing himself for not bringing along the voice communication gear.  He signalled again, much more vigorously that the two should get going; again they shook their heads no.  He grabbed Ski’s arm and pushed him away, pointing at the box and then down the tunnel leading to the entrance.


Ski understood the commands easily enough, ‘get going’.  It wasn’t until the last one where his Captain pointed at the box that he gave consideration to obeying.  Captain Crane was trusting him to get the package safely out.  He looked at Sharkey who was in a gesturing war with Crane.  What he got from that was that Sharkey was fine with him leaving for the sake of the retrieved package but there was nothing on earth or under the water that was going to convince Sharkey to leave the Captain’s side, orders or not.  If the Captain wanted to go back in, then Sharkey was going with him.


Lee knew that if there had been some way for him to deck Sharkey he would have, but you didn’t get into a fight in an underwater cave.  He looked back down the tunnel.  It’s not like he’s alive and waiting to be rescued, it just would have been nice to have found him.


On the way back he had paid particular attention to the flow of the current through the tunnels, there had been one area where tunnel A was met by another almost equally large tunnel and he could understand where a diver in a hurry night mistake which way he should go.


We found the package at the drop point, he must have gotten lost on the way out, and I think that bifurcation is the most likely point.


With a final glare at Sharkey he turned and started back into the cave system.  After a few feet he looked behind him to find Sharkey right on his tail.  To Kowalski’s credit, Lee saw that he had finally obeyed and headed out.


Kowalski may have obeyed his Captain’s order but he was none too happy about it. 


Shit I wish I was with him.  I may have my moments about the Chief but I’m damn glad he’s following the Skipper.




It didn’t take very long for Lee and Sharkey to reach the area of Lee’s speculation.  He swam past it and then turned, playing his light between the two tunnels.  Sharkey began to do the same.  Lee was outwardly ignoring him, but he was careful to be sure he knew where Sharkey was every moment; he wasn’t going to let him get lost, even if he was an insubordinate son of a bitch.


Lee closed his eyes for a moment to better feel the current.  Yes, it’s equally strong going down either one, it would be easy to mistake one for the other.


He started into the other tunnel, noting that this one also had bones littering the floor here and there, something else that might make you think you were in the tunnel leading out.


There were side tunnels but Lee ignored them, if the agent had indeed mistook this one for tunnel A then he wouldn’t have gone down any of the others.  Lee didn’t turn his head to check on Sharkey, he could tell from the man’s dive light that he was close behind him.  It was while Lee was scanning his light down and Sharkey his up that they found what they were looking for.


Lee felt Sharkey tap his leg, he turned and Sharkey motioned for him to look up, he had a sinking feeling that he knew what he would see.


He was right, caught on a projection of rock from the tunnel’s roof was the missing agent.  Lee signalled Sharkey to stay where he was, then he swam to the body.  One of the tank straps was snagged on the rock.  It wouldn’t have been enough to trap the agent.  Dead before he got here, probably pushed along by the current and scraped up against the rock.


ONI hadn’t given any indication of how long the agent had been missing before they sent Lee on the mission but as Lee examined the exposed parts of the body he could see progressive maceration of the skin.  In 50 to 60 degree water this starts within 24-48 hours, the spring was usually a pretty constant 70 degrees year round.  Lee couldn’t find any signs of bleeding or punctures.  Lee didn’t see any sign of the agent’s dive light around.


Poor guy, he must have gotten turned around, didn’t know which way was out, kept swimming in circles until it was all over.


Lee couldn’t suppress a shiver and he felt Sharkey’s hand grip his shoulder, he shrugged it off.


He gently backed the agent off the rocky projection and started the gruesome swim out.  Sharkey had tried to get a grip on the agent’s harness to take over but Lee had firmly pushed him away.  Sharkey thought that it was because his Skipper was still furious with him, but he was mistaken.  Lee was still madder than a wet hen with his COB, but that wasn’t why he’d pushed Sharkey away.


This is for me to do, one agent to another, my duty to him.




Kowalski was getting restless, he’d easily made it out and now hovered at the entrance.  He realized that Captain Crane probably intended that he exit the spring and get back to FS1 with the package, but he wasn’t leaving the cave entrance without his Captain or Sharkey.  If they didn’t show up soon he’d go back in looking for them.  Moments before he would have started in he saw the flickering of dive lights.  He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer of thanks.


As the divers approached he saw that his Captain had a third diver in tow.


One of the joys of rebreathers was that decompression time was greatly reduced; it wasn’t long before they were out and headed back to FS1.




Once back onboard FS1 they wrapped the body in a blanket and strapped it down on the bunk then stowed their gear.   Kowalski took the co-pilot seat to start to prep FS1 for takeoff, that’s when all hell broke loose.


“Chief Sharkey I have had my fill of your insubordination.  I quite clearly signalled you three times to return to the cave entrance.  You refused all three times.”


“Sir, yes Sir.”


Kowalski wasn’t sure why he wasn’t in the line of fire as well, he hadn’t exactly obeyed either, until the third time.


Captain Crane continued in a deadly quiet voice.  “Should I understand that Admiral Nelson directed you to disobey my orders if you weren’t in agreement?”


“Sir, no Sir the Admiral gave no such order.”


“You decided to disobey me all on your own this time, is that so Chief Sharkey?”


Sharkey didn’t know quite what to say.  The correct Navy response was Sir, yes Sir no excuses Sir.  Instead he blurted out, “but I love you too, Sir.”


Lee was stunned into silence, his facial expression one of confusion.


“Not that way Sir, the same way I love the Admiral.  I have so much respect for both of you.  I know you don’t think so after the whole wolf thing but it’s true Sir, I swear.  I would do anything for either of you.  Well not anything, I guess, I couldn’t leave you to go back into those tunnels all on your own.  I know you’re incredibly brave and more than capable but I just couldn’t do it Sir, the risk was too great.  I sure wouldn’t have wanted to tell the Admiral that I lost you.  You’re just too valuable to us all, Sir, we....”


“Sharkey, shut up.”  Lee cut him off from whatever he was going to say next.


“Yes Sir,” was the Chief’s meek reply.


Kowalski was sitting in his seat with his mouth open.  Holy cow I can’t believe Sharkey said that!


Lee looked over at Ski, “close your mouth Ski, you’re not a fish.”


“Ah, yes Sir.”


“Come to think of it you didn’t exactly ‘snap to’ either.”


Ski decided that now was indeed a very good time to keep his mouth closed.


Lee looked back at Sharkey, who had on his most woeful basset hound face.  He couldn’t keep looking at that so he looked away, deep in thought.


Lee had sensed for quite awhile that his crew tended to be protective of him, he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why.  Sure their missions were sometimes fraught with extreme danger and on a number of them he’d come close to dying, but that was just part and parcel of being Seaview’s Captain as far as Lee was concerned.  He’d returned from some of his ONI missions pretty ripped up, but again, that was just the nature of the thing.


Sharkey just couldn’t keep silent, Ski could see that he was about to say something and tried to catch his eye to signal him not to, it didn’t work.


“Sir,” Sharkey reached out a shaking hand to touch his Captain’s arm.  Lee was surprised at this but didn’t say anything, he looked at Sharkey and waited to see what he had to say.


Sharkey cleared his voice and spoke very softly, “You should know Sir, that any one of us aboard Seaview would give his life for you, whether you asked it of us or not.  You’re our Captain, and we all love you, Sir.  There’s no one better, no one we’d rather serve under.”


Lee heard a firm “Amen” from Ski.


Captain Crane had to look away, his eyes were betraying him as they filled with moisture, his throat was tight with emotion.  God when has a Captain ever had such a crew as this.  I love them too, but there has to be discipline or there will be chaos.


Lee cleared his throat and blinked his eyes clear.


“I see Chief, and thank you for that heartfelt sentiment; however Seaview needs a crew concentrating on their duties, not throwing themselves in front of their Captain to protect him from whatever they may perceive as a threat.”


“I didn’t mean it that way, Sir, we’d never neglect our duties, we’d be letting you down if we did.”


Lee held up his hand, “I get the picture Chief, let me tell you how this is going to go down.....”




The Admiral and Chip were relieved when they got the message that FS1 was headed back, mission accomplished.


They didn’t entirely relax until they heard FS1 dock with Seaview, turns out they shouldn’t have relaxed then either.


Chip undogged the hatch and held out his hand to help Lee up.  Lee did not look happy.


As the Chief was coming up Lee turned to Chip, “Mr. Morton, Chief Sharkey has been relieved of duty, he will be confined to his cabin until further notice.”


“Aye aye Sir,” Chip replied.  Quietly he tried to talk to Lee, “Uh Lee what’s going on?”


Lee ignored him and turned to Sharkey.


“Chief you have your orders.  I will expect you to present yourself to me at my cabin at exactly 2000 hours.”




The Chief received a number of sympathetic glances as he passed through the control room headed for the aft hatch, his head hanging very low.


Ski was on deck now and Captain Crane turned his attention to him.


“Kowalski you are confined to quarters for 24 hours.”


“SIR, YES, SIR,” and Kowalski followed Sharkey’s path out.


Nelson was very concerned but had stayed out of it up to now.


“Lee, would you care to explain what this is all about?”  From his tone, Lee knew it wasn’t a request but a carefully put order.  Fine by him, he wanted the control room crew to hear about it, shortly thereafter everyone on the sub would know.


“Admiral, Chief Sharkey refused my direct order and Kowalski was slow to respond.”


“I see, and what was this order you gave, Captain?”


In a voice that he knew would carry Lee answered.


“Immaterial Sir, as Captain I gave an order, regardless of circumstances I expect to be and will be obeyed, Sir.  I expect any and every crewmember to respond immediately to my orders, or there will be consequences.”

Nelson wasn’t going to touch this with a 10-foot spear gun, but he would talk privately to Lee later.


“Very well Captain, carry on.”


Chip wisely decided that he wasn’t going to question Lee just yet either.




Harry approached Lee’s cabin door, Scotch bottle firmly in hand. 


As he went to knock on the door he heard Sharkey, exclaim, “No way, Sir,” followed by a loud thump.


Oh good Lord, Lee surely wouldn’t have hit Francis!


He pushed the door open and saw Sharkey picking himself up off the floor, Lee was reaching down, attempting to grab his arm.


Nelson put the Scotch on the floor and rushed at Lee, pushing him backwards into his bunk and away from the stricken Sharkey.  Shit what have you done Lee, striking a subordinate is a whole boat-load of trouble!


Admirrral, why’d yous go an push the Skiipper?”




It was then that Nelson noticed the distinctive scent of dark rum in the room.  He saw an open bottle of Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection from Barbados and two mostly empty glasses on Lee’s desk.


Ahhhhh, I see.


“I take it you’re alright Francis?”


“Yes A-mirl, just gettin the big book, hic, that Skippy knocked offin his desk.  Sort of over bent myself, I guess.”




Harry looked over at Lee, who had decided that since he was so close to his bunk anyway he might just as well lay down.  He was on his right side, arm curled under his head watching the Admiral and Sharkey.  It dawned on him that with the Admiral in the room that maybe he should sit up, so he gave it a try, he was still trying when he heard the Admiral tell him to give it up and stay where he was.


Nelson retrieved his Scotch bottle from the floor while closing the cabin door.  He got a glass and poured himself a healthy shot then settled in the chair that Lee had vacated moments before.


“Am I to take it Lee that you have worked out your ‘problem’?”


“Problem, what problem Sir?”  Lee asked with a grin as he held out his left hand, indicating he’d like his glass of rum, or what was left of it. 


Harry obliged by topping up the glass, and Sharkey’s, and then passed them back to their respective owners.


“I was just telling the Chief about when we served together on the Nautilus.”


“Is that so.  Well then gentlemen I’d like to propose a toast, ‘Here’s to good stories, good booze, a damn good crew, and smooth sailing’.”


Lee and Sharkey gave a hearty ‘Hear Hear’ and downed their rum.


The Admiral was still curious about one thing, “Lee, I was wondering about Kowalski?”


“I figured he could use some time off, I loaned him a couple of books I thought he’d like.  Of course as far as the crew is concerned...”


“I understand, he’s playing the punished crewman while enjoying 24 hours of down time.”


“Yes, Sir, that’s about the size of it.”



An hour later Chip was passing by Lee’s cabin on his way to his own and had to pause.


What the Hell, that sounds like ‘What shall we do with a Drunken Sailor’9, it couldn’t be.


He knocked on Lee’s door and heard a loud, multi-voiced ‘Yo Ho’ in response.  He opened the door and was suddenly yanked inside by the Admiral.


“It’s about time Mr. Morton, you’re considerably behind.  Will that be Scotch or Rum?”


Finally, thought Harry, this is the cruise I was planning on.





A couple of days later Sharkey returned to duty, no one asked what punishment had been administered, they were just glad he was back.  They were also relieved that there no longer seemed to be any tension between their Captain and his COB.


Although it had been delayed, Lee and the Admiral had a splendid dinner and visit with Carol.  Chip was delighted with his large ‘take-out’ package, which included a bonus of homemade chocolate chip cookies!  A bit of a running joke between Carol and himself.


A few days later they finished collecting their samples from the artificial reef and pointed Seaview’s nose towards home.


Their next mission had something to do with a Dr. King and some sort of plant life he grew and lost track of.  Neither the Admiral nor Lee thought it sounded very exciting, certainly not dangerous...








1 Sail On Sailor - Beach Boys


2 (Killers of the Deep) (The Lost Bomb)

3 A common nickname for the flag of the United States, bestowed by William Driver, an early nineteenth century American sea captain.


4  Mutiny, season one


5  A very good friend of Admiral Nelson, Lee and Chip.  She resides in the Daytona, Florida area.

6 Pop standard, words by Allan Roberts, music by Doris Fisher.

7  I’ll Stand By You

8 A rebreather is a type of breathing set that provides a breathing gas containing oxygen and recycled exhaled gas.  The main advantage of the rebreather over other breathing equipment is the rebreather's economical use of gas.  75% of usable oxygen is lost with open circuit scuba.  Except on ascent, closed circuit rebreathers produce no bubbles and make no bubble noise and much less gas hissing, unlike open-circuit scuba; this can conceal military divers and allow divers engaged in marine biology and underwater photography to avoid alarming marine animals and thereby get closer to them. This lack of exhale also allows shipwreck divers to enter enclosed areas on sunken ships and avoid slowly filling them with air, which then supports the growth of rust.  It also avoids air build up in underwater caves.  The fully closed circuit rebreather is able to minimise the proportion of inert gases in the breathing mix, and therefore minimise the decompression requirements of the diver, by maintaining a specific and relatively high oxygen partial pressure (ppO2) at all depths. The breathing gas in a rebreather is warmer and more moist than the dry and cold gas from open circuit equipment making it more comfortable to breathe on long dives and causing less dehydration in the diver.

Most modern rebreathers have a system of very sensitive oxygen sensors, which allow the diver to adjust the partial pressure of oxygen. This can offer a dramatic advantage at the end of deeper dives, where a diver can raise the partial pressure of oxygen somewhat at shallower depth, in order to shorten decompression times.

9Drunken Sailor” is a traditional sea shanty also known as ‘What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?’  It begins with the question, "What shall we do with a drunken sailor, early in the morning?" (Or sometimes "What do you do," etc.) Each verse thereafter suggests a method of sobering—or castigating, or simply abusing—the sailor.


Watch system for this story.

Some navy ships now use the one-in-two system, also known as 7's and 5's for the duration of the watches. This gives the sailors a longer sleeping period than the traditional two-watch system, while still maintaining the ability for the ship to function. Meals are generally scheduled around the watch turnovers at 0700, 1200, and 1700; sometimes a light midnight meal is provided for the 0000 turnover.

                      Day 1      Day 2     Day 3

0000-0700    Team 1    Team 1   Team 1

0700-1200    Team 2    Team 2   Team 2

1200-1700    Team 1    Team 1   Team 1

1700-0000    Team 2    Team 2   Team 2


Panama Canal


The maximum dimensions of ships that can pass through the Panama Canal are: 106 ft. in beam, 39 ft. draft in tropical fresh water, and 965 ft. long.  Any ship that is the maximum size is called a "Panamax" ship.  When you compare the width of the Panama Canal to the maximum ship's width, there's not much room on either side!  The longest ship ever to transit was the San Juan Prospector, now Marcona Prospector, an ore-bulk-oil carrier that is 973 ft (296.57 m) long, with a beam of 106 ft (32.31 m).

Guesstimates I’ve read here and there on Seaview say she’s around 600 feet long pre flying sub episodes and based on flying sub size, about 350-400 feet after flying sub added episodes.  I’m not really fussed about it as either way she’d get through the Canal.  The beam is a little trickier but I’m saying she squeezes through.  Of if you prefer, we can say that the renovations to the Canal are finished and she fits.