The New Ship
by Garland Davis
He could see the cruiser in the mists at the end of the pier as he walked toward it, his seabag rocking lightly on his shoulder. Funny he always thought it was heavier than this. Although the pier was in golden sunlight, the ship was blurred, the gray almost silvery in the cloudy mist.
His orders had come in the middle of the night. He was to report at 0800 this morning. He glanced at his watch as he crossed the gangway. Exactly on time. He stood on the gangway and saluted during morning colors, turned and saluted the OOD and requested permission to board. The members of the Quarterdeck watch were squared away and efficient. There was something familiar about them. It was as if he knew them.
The Petty Officer of the Watch entered him in to the log and said, “Welcome Aboard Chief. I’ll have the Messenger show you to the CPO Mess.”
He answered, “That’s okay, I know the way. I’ve served in this class before.”
He walked forward on the port side and entered the water tight door just aft of the Wardroom and down the ladder into the Messdecks. He wanted a look at the Messdecks, the Galley, and his cooks. Breakfast was still being served for the guys just coming off watch. The food looked and smelled good. The spaces looked great and the mess cooks were neat and clean.
CS1 Roy, his old Galley Captain and LPO came around the drink line, wiping his hands on a clean apron, and said, “Hey Chief, we have been waiting for you. Good to have you aboard. Gonna be great to serve with you again!”
Roy said to one of the mess cooks. “Get the Chief’s seabag and carry it to the after CPO berthing, just across from his office. You are going to live there aren’t you Chief.”
“I hope so, if there is a bunk available.” The Chief replied.
“Oh, I’m sure there will be.” Roy said as he turned back toward the galley.
He followed the mess cook down the starboard passageway past the scullery. He stopped for a minute and noticed that the scullery looked neater and more squared away than he had ever seen it before. He caught up with the mess cook, thanked him, took his seabag and entered the berthing compartment. He was amazed to find his old bunk and locker vacant.
After making his rack, stowing his locker, and changing into a work khaki uniform, he headed forward, back through the Messdecks, to the CPO Mess. As he entered he saw many familiar faces as well as some strangers. A Master Chief BT that he knew, wearing the Command Master Chief Badge, rose, stuck out his hand, and said, Welcome aboard, Shipmate. We have been waiting for you. Did you find your bunk and locker okay? I had the compartment cleaner clean everything so it would be ready.”
“We’re getting underway. I have to go to the fireroom. I’ll be back in a little while and we can talk. Have a cup of coffee and breakfast. I won’t be long.”, The Master Chief said as he prepared to leave the mess.
“Just some coffee” the Chief said to his back as he went out the door. As he turned, the mess cook set a cup marked with his name and a CPO anchor on the table and said, “Here you go Chief.”
“Still crankin’ in the CPO mess Johnson?” The Chief said, taking a drink from the cup and thinking, this is one fine cup of coffee. He wondered why he knew the kid’s name.
“Yep seems like I’ll always be here. I don’t mind, it’s good duty lookin’ after you guys.” Johnson replied as he gathered up the plates and cups to wash.
“Now set the Special Sea and Anchor Detail for getting underway.” Blasted the 1MC speaker as the Chief sat down in his usual seat with his coffee. He looked around the mess at the Acey Deucy board and dice stowed away in their niche alongside the cribbage board. There was the Chief’s Creed framed in a prominent place on the bulkhead with the three carved wooden anchors from the PI above it.
He felt movement from the ship as the tugs bumped alongside and later could hear the sound of the water rushing down the side as the ship gained speed leaving port. He took a sip of his coffee and thought, “Damn, it is good to be at sea again.”
“Now secure the Special Sea and Anchor Detail, set the normal underway watch, commence ship’s work.” From the 1MC as the Master Chief comes back into the Mess. “Let’s take a walk around, Dave,” he says.
They exit the Mess and go aft toward the Galley. As they walk aft, crew members greet him with, Welcome Chief.” And “Great to have you back Chief.”
The CMC says, “You’ve got a good crew here Chief. You won’t have any worries with them. As a matter of fact, the whole ship functions well without any problems.”
“Where are we headed?” the Chief asks.
“What are we gonna do?”
‘When will we be back?”
“Why are we going out?”
“Don’t ask me, I’m just a snipe.”
As they walked down the passageway toward the Galley and Messdecks something didn’t seem right to the Chief. He asked the Master Chief, “We both retired from the Navy. Why are we back?”
“You remember how Boats Grimley used to talk of a silver cruiser in the sky when the end comes?” the BT replied.
“Yes. How could I forget. Tied up at the end of a golden pier.”
“Well this is it, the Silver Cruiser.”
“Yes! This is our Valhalla! This is a sailor’s heaven! This is where old sailors go for the rest of forever. The Old Man told me our next port of call is a place called Fiddler’s Green! All our old shipmates are there.”
A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.