Random Scribbles · writing

Paint With Words #2 – Descent



I watched my receivers scanning the high frequency bands, looking for contacts. Ready to identify whatever I picked up. The MC relayed all conversation in control to my speaker in the ESM shack. I heard, “This is Lt. Hawkins, I have the deck and the Conn. Down scope,” I heard the OD operate the valve actuator ring, in the overhead, and the number 2 scope slipped smoothly and silently into the well. I smiled, one facet of my job was to ensure all the masts and antenna operated flawlessly. “Make your depth 120 feet, 3 degree down bubble.”

“Make my depth 120 feet, three degree down, aye.” Echoed the diving officer; he repeated the order to the helmsman and planesman, who immediately complied by pressing forward on their yokes. I did not hear them implement the shallow dive but I felt the slight change in the pitch of the boat.

It doesn’t take long to dive to 120 feet from periscope depth, even if you are only holding a 3 degree bubble, and soon the diving officer was singing out, “depth is 120 feet sir.”

The Chief of the Watch finished pumping variable ballast and the planesman maintained an even trim at 120 feet.

“Ahead one third,” Hawkins said.

The helmsman reached over with his left hand and selected Ahead One Third on the Engine Order Telegraph. Almost immediately the speed change was acknowledged and I heard the EOT ding in reply.

“Right 15 degrees rudder, come to 275.” Lt. Hawkins ordered. He wanted to hear what, if anything was behind him despite the fact that there had been no visuals.

“Right 15 degrees rudder, aye” the helmsman echoed and before long added, “steady on course 275.”

“Conn, Sonar – it’s quiet out tonight. No contacts excepting biologic activity at 160.”

“Very well. Diving officer, make your depth 400 feet, 15 degrees down.”

The diving officer acknowledged the order and the helmsman and planesman again pressed forward on their controls.

Fifteen degrees is a noticeable pitch and everyone standing on the boat was soon leaning noticeably closer to the deck plates aft of where they stood. We listened to the hull creak and pop, but we held that angle for only a few short minutes before I felt the boat level off and heard the dive say, “depth 400 feet.”

“Very well,” said the OD, “ahead flank.”

“Ahead flank, aye.” The EOT dinged twice.

“Sonar, Radio, ESM; Conn – Plan a high speed run to station at Whiskey Two where we will drop a little deeper, rig for quiet, and hope to make contact with enemy shipping.”

I recognized his voice when Bugman said, “Conn; Sonar aye”

Uncle Jerry replied, “Conn; Radio aye”

“Conn; ESM aye,” I said. I looked at my watch. It would take about four hours to get to Whiskey Two I had some downtime. I flicked the latch that locked the door and leaned back against the bulkhead. I should be able to get in a half hour nap before I was needed in Control. Ahead flank at a depth of 400 feet usually provided a gentle rocking motion, perfect for napping, if nothing else was going on. I intended to take advantage of it.