Author Note:  Thanks to Lill always for her critiquing and help, especially with the selection of the title.  This story is a follow-up to my previous dues with references to the Auction Flyer, Invitation to Marine Auction and Auction Catalogue for Unique Marine Conservation, which were based on the earlier stories, Working Vacation and A Fantastic Voyage.    You do not need to read the other stories to enjoy this story. 

Taking care of Details

By Kay H

The Command Staff planned on spending the next several weeks at the Institute where they are deeply involved in co-coordinating a charity auction for Marine Conservation.   Admiral Nelson, the highly respected representative of Conservation International and HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco, were hoping to host a uniquely fantastic event for the protection of marine life across the world.  The organizational undertakings of this enterprise were massive, and included the invitations to the Black-Tie Charity Auction, the entertainment, the Auction Flyer and the Auction Catalogue to name just a few of the many details.

Lee decided to forego his usual morning run to arrive early at his office.  As he parked his car he noticed the arrival of Chip Morton. He walked over to greet him, “Good Morning Chip, aren’t you a little early this morning?”

Chip gives Lee his best XO stare and answers, “So are you Captain”.

Lee smiles, “Apparently we both had the same idea.”  Chip grins at Lee and they both say at the same time, “The Auction.”

Admiral Harriman Nelson came up behind them in the company of Dr Jamieson.  He caught them unawares as he cleared his throat, “Gentlemen aren’t you a little early for our regular Monday morning meeting.  I would have expected you to head straight to the boat this early. You don’t need 2 hours to get your files ready, especially when I know you were both in your offices until late yesterday evening.”

Dr. Jamieson suddenly frowned, “Admiral this is too much even for your workaholic Command Staff.  The Seaview has been back for a week, from a simple mission where no one was injured, there was no damage to the boat and they had a week to clean out their inboxes. There is absolutely no reason for them to be here working late on a Sunday night, especially with a security detail on the Seaview.  They can’t even claim to be checking on repairs, since there are none going on!  Do I have to ban them from the grounds to get them to take some time off?”

Lee and Chip both try to look suitably chastised and start to respond but Admiral Nelson holds up his hands to stop his officers.  He turns to Jamieson in a placating manner.  “Jamie, settle down. We aren’t involved in planning the next mission and unless I miss my guess I think they were both working on the photo selection for the auction catalogue.”

Nelson looks at his officers with a raise eyebrow.  “Gentlemen, am I correct?”

Lee smiles, “Yes sir, Chip and I had an idea about the pictures for the auction lots. We played tennis yesterday afternoon and just wanted to check out the photos, remember the ones we took of the unique marine life?” Lee looked boldly at the doctor, “The ones we took on Jamie’s last enforced vacation. We just wanted to review them.”

Chip nodded his head vigorously, “Yeah Jamie, you really act like we don’t know how to relax.  After we finished the tennis match, we stopped for pizza and beer.  We started talking about the auction catalogue, but we need to look at the pictures.  I left them here after we used them on Seaview’s mission to the Bird Head’s area.”

“We really needed to look at the pictures to make the right decisions, so we could start thinking about the descriptions for the auction lots.  You know how tight the deadline is to finish the catalogue and review it.  We’ll need several weeks lead time for them to complete the galley proofs so we can make the mailing deadline.” Lee confirmed.

Jamie looked thoroughly confused; nothing they were saying made any sense. “What auction catalogue are you talking about?  I thought his was the Nelson Institute of Marine Research not the John Smith auction house!”

The Admiral smiled and put his hand around the doctor’s shoulder, “Jamie let’s go to my office and I will explain everything. You missed a lot while you were on vacation.”  Lee and Chip started walking away from the admiral and doctor while the Admiral was talking.  Nelson looked up at his officers and gently asked, “Going somewhere gentlemen?”

Lee and Chip jumped and at the same time answer “No, sir.”  Lee motioned toward the door, “I was just getting the door, Admiral.”

Nelson smiled wisely, “I thought so Captain, since you both helped to cause Jamie’s frustration, you can help explain.”

As they walked into Nelson’s office Lee walked over to the credenza and started the coffee pot that Angie always prepared before she left for the day.  While the coffee is brewing he joined the others in the seating area.  Jamie was getting tired of waiting for an explanation and was getting ready to say something when Nelson started to speak.  “Okay Jamie, you have been patient enough, now for your explanation.  Remember the mission to the Bird Head’s Seascape near Indonesia?”

Jamie thought for a moment, “Isn’t that the area where Lee was injured when some underwater bombing happened while he was wreck diving?”

Nelson looked at Lee who just grinned, only Jamie would remember the mission by Lee being injured.  “Yes, that is the mission I’m referring too.  If you remember that area was just recently discovered, which is why we were diving the area to record the different species, some of which have never been seen before by man.” 

“Admiral, I remember the mission but what does that have to do with an auction?” asked the exasperated doctor.

“Jamie, the auction is being held to raise money for the protection and exploration of the area.  NIMR has joined with Conservation International and HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco, to host a black-tie Grand Reception at which we will hold a silent auction for the naming rights to some of the newly discovered marine life, as well as some very special excursions.  Hopefully it will raise public awareness along with a lot of money for the protection of this very special environment.”

Lee grinned at Jamie. “So you see Doc that is why Chip and I needed to look at the photos we took on our working vacation.  We also needed to pull the file photos from that mission.  We had to find the most unusual and exciting pictures, so when we start drafting the descriptions today they would encourage people to bid large amounts of money.  Katie and Angie are heading the team working with the scientist to develop the descriptions.” 

As Lee went to check on the coffee Chip spoke up. “We promised the girls that we would have the chosen pictures and have them waiting for them the first thing this morning.”

Admiral Nelson nodded contentedly.  “After we complete the catalogue it still has to be reviewed by our co-sponsors, before the printer can setup the galley proof then everyone will have to check it again.”

They hear movement in the outer office and realize that someone else has also decided on an early start.

Lee stood up and looked at the still seated doctor. “Hope that clears things up Jamie. We came in early to get this done before the staff meeting that starts in an hour and we still don’t have the info ready for Katie, so we have to get on it.”  

Chip nods his agreement as he also stands in preparation to leave.  “Yes Jamie, we can’t stay here talking with you.  We don’t want to tick off our assistants.” 

Both Angie and Katie had arrived early in order to look at the pictures in preparation of their meeting at 9am.  As Katie walks into Angie’s office, she sees Angie searching her desk.  Angie heard Katie, and turned her head then said, “Good Morning, Katie.”

Katie responded in kind and asked, “What you are looking for?”

“I can’t find the pictures Lee and Chip were supposed to leave for me.  You know the ones for the auction discussion group meeting this morning.  Did they leave them on your desk by chance?”

Katie responded negatively then said, “Well the coffee is on in the Admiral’s office, I can smell the aroma. Maybe they are going over the selection with him. Let’s check, we need the pictures as soon as possible, if we want to have everything on schedule for the group meeting.”

They both walk over to the door.  Angie knocks then opens the door in response to the Admiral’s, “Come in”.  When Angie sees the Admiral, Lee, Chip and Doctor Jamieson, she thinks, uh oh, I’ve interrupted an important meeting, but I don’t remember one on the Admiral’s schedule.  “Good morning sir, I’m sorry to interrupt you.”

Nelson quickly raises his hand, “Not a problem.  How are you ladies this fine morning?”

Angie and Katie smile and Katie says “We’re fine sir.  We were looking for Captain Crane or Commander Morton.”  They look directly at the officers in question.  “We didn’t mean to interrupt, but we couldn’t find the pictures that you were supposed to leave us for this mornings meeting.”

Lee glances shyly though his eyelashes hoping for some sympathy from his Administrative Assistant.  “Uh Katie, Angie there not quite ready yet for you.  I’m sorry, but Dr. Jamieson delayed Chip and I this morning.  He wasn’t happy to see us here so early,” Lee suddenly stopped and looked at the doctor, “Now that I think about it, he complained about Chip and I being here early, but never said why he was in 2 hours early for the staff meeting.”

Everyone suddenly look toward the doctor, Lee put on his best command face, “Care to explain doctor?”

Doctor Jamieson shifted uncomfortably in his chair, and then stared at the Captain while muttering.  “I was working on the schedule for the annual physicals.  I planned on leaving a note on your assistant’s desk, asking if they let me know when you had several free hours in the next few weeks, so I could schedule your physicals.”

Both Lee and Chip look with confusion at Jamieson as the Admiral motions Lee and Chip to sit back down for a moment.  “Now Jamie you know that crew physicals aren’t due for several months.”

Jamieson looked directly at the Admiral, “Sir, you know it will take me several months to corral you three.  Even if I start requesting an appointment now, I still won’t finish with your physicals on time.  You will all find something to prevent you keeping your appointments.  I know you will always have some important reasons you must reschedule and reschedule.”

Lee, Chip and Nelson all look sheepish.  Lee said, “We’re not that bad.” 

The ringing phone stops Jamie’s reply.  Angie walks over to the admiral’s desk and picks up the phone.

“Admiral Nelson’s Office, Angie Mc Donald speaking.  May I help you?”  She listens for a minute then says, “Hold please”.  She placed the call on hold and turned to the Admiral.  “Sir, it is Blake Hummel from Wood Holes, they have an emergency and need to speak with you.”  She turns toward Lee knowing the command staff would be tied up for a while and as she and Katie leave the room says quietly, “Whenever you can get the pictures to us will be fine, Commander.”

Jamie, Chip and Lee get up to leave so the Admiral can take the call in private but he quickly motions for them to sit back down and answers the call from the speakerphone.  “Good morning, Blake.  I have you on the speaker and Captain Crane, Commander Morton and Dr Jamieson are here.”

“Good morning Harry, I’m glad you’re all together since I was hoping that you and Seaview were in port and it’s opportune that Dr, Jamieson is there also.  We have a problem with the submersible Aurelia; she went down off the continental shelf near the Bearing Sea and is too deep for us to reach.  They were examining a recently discovered Spanish Galleon. Seaview is the only boat close enough that can go deep enough to rescue the crew.  I was hoping the Seaview was not tied up on a mission and would be in port.  Are you free to help?”

Nelson looks at his officers for their questions.  “Dr. Hummel, Captain Crane here.  What is the depth of the Aurelia?  How much time before their air runs out?  What shape is the Aurelia in?  Are there any problems with their structural integrity?”  Lee looks toward Chip and Jamie.  “Dr. Hummel, this is Dr. Jamieson, are there any injuries?”

The Seaview personnel hear a sigh from Dr. Hummel.  “Harry, I will start with Captain Crane’s questions then follow up with Dr. Jamieson’s.  Captain, they’re lodged on a ledge at the entrance to a fairly steep cavern right off the shelf.  The depth is around 2900 ft.  There is enough air for about 4 days, since the submersible has a 96 hour backup supply of oxygen supporting the recycling system. The main problem is the reactor is out and the submersible’s nose is stuck in some rocks.  The escape hatch is clear and the docking ring should match up with Seaview’s Flying Sub or diving bell collar.  The main injuries are bumps and bruises from when they hit.  I do understand that one man has a slight concussion and another a broken arm, but we seemed to be lucky with no major injuries. ”

“Blake it’s Nelson again.  Of course we will help let me put you on hold for a minute and confer with my staff then I can give you a timeframe.”  Nelson puts the call on hold.  “Lee, how long will it take to get Seaview ready to sail?”

Lee glances at Chip and Jamie, “Chip, we should only need supplies for approximately a week, but go ahead and plan for 10 days. If you both do an emergency restock how long do you need? Seaview could be on site within 24 hours after sailing running at flank speed.”

Chip agreed with Lee, “We have enough stock in the stores to handle a10 day mission.  I’ll get the requisitions started and contact the suppliers for fresh food deliveries.  We should be loaded and ready to sail in 8 hours.  As soon as I contact the Chief to issue the crew recalls for the Seaview crew on leave, I will get the re-supplying started.  It is fortunate that most of the crew were on shore duty training anyway so all we have to do is re-arrange the coverage of their shore duties.”

Lee nodded his head, “I will get started on that, then head to the boat.  You can join me when you finish with the supply requisitions. Jamie, if you need to requisition any special items or supplies get together with Chip or the Chief and make the arrangements for manpower.” The captain looked to his senior officer, “Admiral, we should be on site within 48 hours.”

Nelson turned the speaker back on. “Blake we should be on site within 48 hours and will contact you when we get there.  We plan on sailing within 8 hours, so if you want to hitch a ride with us you had better catch a plane.”

Blake laughed, “Already booked Harry, and my secretary did it as soon as she got you on the phone.  I will arrive around 1500hours this afternoon and take a cab to the Institute.  I will bring any updated information that comes in before I leave with me, if anything comes in after I leave my secretary will forward it to you by fax, email or phone.  See you soon.”

As everyone gets up to leave, Nelson says. “Lee, please remember to get the pictures for the auction catalogue to Angie and Katie.  They will have to continue working on it while we are at sea.  We can take a draft copy of the catalogue along with a copy of the pictures with us.  They can email or call us with any questions.  After they run the proof copy, we will just have to send the Flying Sub on a mail call and pick up the invitation, flyer and especially the catalogue.  Gentlemen, let’s get busy, we don’t have a lot of time before sailing.” 

The meeting broke up as everyone leaves Nelson’s office to take care of their assignments.  Nelson then walks into the outer office where Angie and Katie are discussing their up coming meeting on the Auction catalogue, “Ladies the Seaview should be sailing in approximately 8 hours on an emergency rescue mission, so you will have to carry on planning the event without us I’m afraid. Angie, Blake Hummel should be arriving this afternoon from Wood Hole, please arrange for his security passes with security.  He will be sailing with us, so you will need to include Seaview in his clearances.”  Nelson then turns to Katie to give her some instructions.  “Katie, Princess Grace contacted me offering the services of her private secretary along with her Master of the Household to assist in the details for planning of the historical event.  By utilizing the domestic entourage of Prince Rainer and Princess Grace’s this will allow for some assistance in making the arrangements in Monaco, at the Oceanographic Museum.  He will be coordinating arrangements for the staff in Monaco. They can start on planning the menu, wine list, the decoration, table setting, etc.  I will give you the name and contact information for the Princess’s Private Secretary before I leave.” 

Katie looks at the Admiral. “Thank you, Sir.  This will help a lot since he is physically in Monaco, it will make it easier to arrange the staff and obtain the plans for the Museum.  I will contact him later today.”

Nelson acknowledged her reply with a nod of his head, “Also ladies I have asked Captain Crane to make sure you have the photographs before he leaves for the boat today.  Unfortunately he and Commander Morton must first arrange several urgent details for the crew and re-stocking of Seaview.  Since this is a very short turn around time frame I am sure they will need your assistance, so you will need to re-schedule the auction committee meeting today.  I am sorry for causing this delay; I know the choices for the auction catalogue need to be made as soon as possible.  We will take copies of the photos with us and will work on the descriptions and selections as time permits.  Please email or radio us with any questions concerning the event. We will review information you send on the photo selection and descriptions after we receive them.  I promise that we will try to limit the delays as much as possible.  Hopefully the rescue mission should take less than a week, so we should be back before the galley proofs are ready for the auction catalogue.”

The Seaview was able to sail on the evening tide.  By running at flank speed they were able reach the Aurelia in just under 40 hours.  The rescue was easily accomplished safely and without any complications, allowing the Seaview to return to port within a week.

As he returned to his office only eight days after he had left, Admiral Harriman Nelson was pleased to find all preparations for the Charity catalogue well in hand.  Harry was once again immensely grateful that he had surrounded himself with the most capable staff he could find… it certainly made his responsibilities, both at sea and ashore, a lot easier to bear!