Getting  the Crew Home for Thanksgiving

By K. Corris

Captain Lee Crane let out a long sigh as he looked up from the charting table.  This cruise had lasted longer than planned, and he was in a hurry to get his men home in time for Thanksgiving with their families.  Seaview should have made port two days ago.  Now, if they were lucky, they would be docking late Thursday morning.  That was exceptable for the men who lived in Santa Barbara or nearby, but not for the ones who had made travel plans to be with loved ones outside the city.   He was seriously considering asking Admiral Nelson about using FS1 to take home the men who had flight connections alreaday paid for.  But he already knew what the Admiral would say, that it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the men.  But Lee didn’t want to cause any disapointments or family problems.

He turned to Lt. Cmdr. Chip Morton, his Executive Officer.  “Chip, how many crewmen do you know that had flights to catch?”

“About 10 that I am aware of, but I haven’t heard all the grumblings.  Sharkey might be a better person to ask.”   Chip had a pretty good idea what his Captain and best friend was considering.

Lee picked up the mike, “Chief Sharkey, please report to the control room.”  Two minutes later Chief Francis Sharkey was standing beside him.

“Chief, talk to the men. Make me a list of who needs to be home early to catch a flight or make other connections for their Thanksgiving plans.  Only the ones whose Thanksgivings will be ruined by getting home late.  Thanks.”

He knew Chip wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving this year as he usually did, only because his parents were on a cruise to celebrate their anniversary and his married sisters were going ot their in-laws.   So Chip would be joining him and several other officers and members of the crew for a Thanksgiving feast at the Admiral’s home, as he provided every year for crewmembers that had no other plans or family to make them with. Dinner would be late Thursday afternoon, so their plans would not be affected by getting in late.  He so badly wanted to  order running on flank speed, but with the engine problems they had encountered earlier he couldn’t take the chance.

It took the Chief about an hour to talk to everyone, then he gave his Captain a list of 14 names. He had put them in order of the most desperate to the ‘mildly affected’.  “OK, Chief, thanks.”  Now, down to see the Admiral.

“I don’t know, Lee.  I feel as bad about this as you do.  But with the flying sub only holding 6 people, one of them the pilot, even drawing names out of a hat as you suggest would still mean three trips and there is only time for one.  How about a compromise?  One trip for the five that have to get home the earliest, and I will have Angie rebook flights at the Institute’s expense for the rest?  Would that work?”  

“It sounds good in theory Admiral.  Let me run it past the men involved and see if it is doable.  I’ll get back to you.”

Lee left the Admiral’s cabin, grabbing the first mike in the corridor.  “This is the Captain.  Chief Sharkey, please report to my cabin.”

Five minutes later, he was explaining the Admiral’s idea to the Chief.  “OK Chief.  Get any of the men on this list who aren’t on duty down here.  I’ll talk to the rest at their posts.”

A half hour later the Captain’s cabin was crowded.  “Let’s see if we can work this out.  Who absolutely has to be  home asap, and who can wait for a  later flight or connection?”

Lee was always proud of his crew, and now was no exception. Listening to the men talking amongst themselves, all of them thinking of the others,  it was soon decided who needed to leave first and who could wait.   But Lee still had three men on duty he had to talk to.  “Ok, after I talk to the other three men, I will announce over the PA who should get ready to leave.  All the rest will take turns at the radio shack talking to Miss Wood.  Angie will cancel your flights and rebook them for later, at the Institute’s expense.  Dismissed.”

One of the three men Lee talked to at their duty posts really needed to leave on FS1.  That meant bumping someone else.  If any one of the first group could pilot the flying sub the problem would be solved, but none of them were certified.  He looked at the list again, the names and the destinations.   He was torn between picking names from a hat and making a command decsion himself.  Wait a minute.  One of these destinations was for Las Vegas.  There were flights there every hour!  Okay Sheperds, you’re bumped.  He got on the intercom and announced the five who would be on FS1.  Now, out of the six people certified to fly FS1, who would benefit most by getting home early?  Not him, Chip or the Admiral, that left Sharkey, Kowalski, and Patterson.  Patterson was the only one not having dinner at the Admiral’s.  As a married man he had his own wife and children waiting for him.  And Lee thought he overheard Pat tell Kowalski that his parents had flown in to join them for Thanksgiving.

“Patterson, this is the Captain. Please report to my cabin.”

A few minutes later and . . .

“You wanted to see me Skipper?”

“Hey Pat.  I need a pilot to take five men back home to catch their flights in time.  The rest of the certified pilots are all having dinner at the Admiral’s,  so it doesn’t matter what time we get in.  I thought your family might like to have you with them sooner rather than later, so get your stuff together. “

“Skipper!  I . . .thanks!  Thank you, Sir!  I really appreciate this!  So will Maureen and the girls!  Sir, did I tell you?  We’re expecting again, and this one’s a boy!  I can’t wait! We’re going to tell my parents at dinner! Thank you again so much Sir!  I’ll get my stuff.”

He ran out so fast Lee didn’t even have a chance to congratulate him!

Next,  Lee went down to the radio shack and asked Sparks to put him through to the Institute.   He then explained to Angie what the Admiral wanted her to do for the nine men left.  They would each tell her what they needed.  For several of them, she would have to call their families to notify them of the change.   Then he got on the intercom and called the men down.  One by one they made their new arrangements with her.

An hour later FS1 left with the six men aboard.  Patterson knew he was on call to fly her back if the the little sub was needed before Seaview docked, if there was any kind of emergency.  But Lee didn’t anticipate one.  He expected clear sailing until they reached port.  And it was.


Lee sat back from the Admiral’s table, he was stuffed like a flounder.  Good food, good company, good beer.  The first night home was always great, but this was wonderful.  And he felt truly relieved that all of his crew members had been able to be with their families.  But for him, this was his family.  Chip, Harry, Jamie, Kowalski, and Sharkey.

“What that?  Yep, I”ll have another cold one.  Thanks.  And another slice of that Apple Pie, please.  If Chip left any!”


The End

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

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