Every American war ship has to be proficient in gunnery exercises. This is just one story of one ship and it's near mishap.
originally published on Ficlets on Monday, September 01, 2008
“Battle Stations! Battle Stations! All hands, man your battle stations.!”
The ship was a flurry of men rushing through the corridors; some climbing up, others running down the steal rung ladders. Some were donning headsets, while others were slipping on lifejackets. Strangley silent of voices, but a rumble of racing feet and the slamming of steal water tight door and the whurr of the wheels sealing those doors.
Finally silence throughout the ship, with the exception of the bridge, where the lee helmsman repeated the voices eminating from the sound powered phones. “Foward gunmount, manned and ready. Rear gunmount manned and ready.” To each report the captain replied, “Aye” Until all the battle stations were accounted for.
Once the lee helmsman reported all stations manned and ready the Captain took the phone and said, “This is your captain speaking. We are engaged in a drill. We will be shooting at a sleeve being pulled by a navy Tomcat. Look sharp, we will be graded on this drill. Over.”
Above the bridge, in the firecontrols forward station were two sailors. One, the senior noncom, Second Class Firecontrolman Max Titus, the other was a Seaman Apprentice, a new kid. They sat in dim light in front of an array small screens and control wheels.
This was the new kid’s first time at a battle station, he was excited and bewildered by the myriad of controls. Max said, “Son,” Max being two years older than the kid, “Our job is to find the target and lock onto it. Once that is done our job is done. All the forward guns will go into auto and commence firing.”
The two sailors watched the screens, looking for a blip as they searched the sky through the firecontrol radar. The only sound was the ocean being cleaved apart as the ship sped forward.
“There!” the kid shouted. “There it is!”
“Very good,” said Max. “See the two blips? The first one is the plane and the second is the sleeve. We now lock onto the sleeve and viola! we’ve done out part.” With that he clicked a switch.
Once the switch was made Max spoke into the phone hanging around his neck. “Station one, locked on target, commence firing.”
The rumble and the clicking sounds were loud as the five inch gun mounts swiveled around following the firecontrol radars signal. Then, once the big guns were in place, the booming was almost deafening.
Max scooted back to lean against the bulkhead. There, he opened the phones’ storage box, and pulled out two Playboy magazines, tossing one to the kid.
“Thanks, Max,” the kid said, going straight for the foldout.
As the two sailors studied the magazines like their lives depended on it an odd thing was happening. The radar that had been locked onto the target sleeve moved a fraction of an inch and began climbing the wire cable that was attached to the Tomcat.
Yelling from the airplanes radio got their attention. As the pilot shot straight up in the sky he was screaming, “Cease fire, you assholes. I’m pulling the sleeve, not pushing it!”