Navigational Seamanship

		I’ve told this story so many times I sometimes think I made it all up.

		We had a LtJg on board who was a LDO and had been enlisted and became an officer.
	His name was, well, maybe I’ll call him Meadows in case he someday reads this. As an LDO
	Meadows was a little older than the average LtJg and he was always striving to be a
	thoroughly attentive officer, especially when the Captain was around. Oh lets be
	honest, he was an “Apple polisher” (I might have said he had an unusualy dark proboscis)! 

		We were steaming mostly north in a screen around the carrier. It was around
	midnight, probably a little before. It was somewhere off cape Hatteras (wasn’t it always)
	but oddly enough it was a calm night. Meadows had the con and I was the helmsman. 
	The squadron was steaming along at a leisurely pace; I’d guess less than ten knots. 
	Anyway, things were kind of slow and laid back. Suddenly the Captain appeared and took his
	seat inside the pilot house. I think someone said something like “Captain’s on the bridge”.
	Meadows suddenly became quite the squared away con officer. He began to	check and recheck 
	our position as regards the carrier and soon was making trivial course and speed 
	corrections. These changes occurred about every three or four minutes. As I said we were
	heading north and I was steering more or less 000 degrees. As most people who ever steered 
	the ship know, it moved around the course a few degrees either side. We made corrections
	every so often to hold within about two or three degrees of the course. Oh yes; during
	highline or refueling the helmsman worked very hard to keep at the proper distance from
	the other ship, but during normal operations you didn’t knock yourself out to keep closer
	to the base course. Meadows had a rough time with the concept of right and left. 
	For example he would say “Helmsman come left to course 001” when I had been steering 000.
	As was the custom I would respond to him with the information that it was a right turn
	(I can’t remember the proper language I used when I had to correct him). He would then 
	make some kind of harrumphing noise and say “Very well come right to 001”. This began to
	happen with every course change he gave and he became more and more flustered. After
	about the sixth time I corrected him he turned to go back to talking with the other 
	bridge officer. As soon as he was out of earshot the Captain said to me “Helmsman you
	don’t seem to be able to carry out any order without correcting the con officer”. I must
	have looked at him with some sort of a dumbfounded look so he elaborated, “Carry out the
	con officers orders without correcting him”! I said “Aye, aye captain”. During the few
	minutes I had till the next course change I began to feel a little sorry for Meadows, 
	his having been an enlisted man and a bit long in the tooth and all. Presently he gave
	the next change and, big surprise; it was the wrong direction again. I answered 
	it “Coming left to course 001 at standard rudder, sir”. I hoped he would take notice of
	the “standard rudder” part which I had accentuated. He Didn’t! As the ship was passing
	a mostly southwesterly direction he suddenly began to feel that something was wrong and
	blurted out something like “Helmsman where are you going”. I replied, “Coming left to
	course 001 at standard rudder, sir”. He babbled a bit and said “Belay the last order”! 
	The Captain intervened and said “Meadows we are now at least 180 degrees off course so 
	you might as well complete the turn”. Meadows said “Yes, yes, I concur, helmsman, belay
	the last order”. I was tempted to ask which last order but decided that might be over
	the top. Instead I said “Aye, aye sir’. As you can imagine this whole scene was somewhat
	funny to all but LtJg Meadows, but no one laughed out loud; however we all were laughing
	inside. When we got all the way around I reported “Steady on course 001”. As Meadows
	began to decide what changes he had to make to get back on station the radio crackled
	and the carrier said “Castle, this is Abigail Zulu, where are you going”? Meadows looked
	at the Captain with a hangdog look and the Captain said “Meadows I think that’s for you”!	He then left the Bridge!

					David Fickle FT2 58-60