June 11-17, 1915 - USS Montana
The piece below was authored by Heiwa, though jim did edit it a leetle.
Thus, he gets any credit, and I accept all blame. If Heiwa is lurking
(the last I heard, he was board ship off Japan), thanx again!
---- June 11, 1:30 PM, New York Harbor, Captain's Gig
Captain Marvin Peace, stared astern at the slowly dwindling bulk of USS
New York (BB-34). His gig bounced in the anonymous wake of any of
dozens of ships moving about in the heavily trafficked harbor, at times
dipping so deeply into a trough that the ACR-13 emblazoned on her trim
prow was lost from view. The New York was certainly a majestic
sight, fully justifying a cruiser captain's gaze. The great dreadnought
nearly doubled the displacement of his armored cruiser and, with those
five turrets, probably possessed ten times her firepower. None of that
was on his mind, though. He had seen New York hundreds of times
while in the yard these last months and his gig always bounced like a
cork in this Harbor. The meeting they had just left, however, was an entirely
different matter. "Well, Alex," he asked his XO, "what
do you make of it?"
Commander Alexander Campbell almost shrugged as he turned to face his
captain. "I don't know, Skipper," he answered after a moment.
"The German liners are definitely working up. And after all this
time." He gestured vaguely towards the tall hull of Kaiser Wilhelm
II, from which several threads of steam now wafted, then almost overbalanced
as the tiny craft bounced in a new wake.
"The report from Bermuda is just as clear," the XO added, after
recovering his balance. "The British sure seem to think something's
up. They're scrambling like mad."
"Well our esteemed cousins across the ocean seemed to have really
dropped the ball, if even half of the reports we have been hearing are
true. The Germans may feel they have a chance to actually make it through
the blockade." The Captain said while looking towards where the large
liner was moored.
"You don't think so?" Alex replied
"No, I guess I don't. While the British have apparently suffered
heavy losses in battleships, they still have an ungodly amount of cruisers
and AMCs left. Heck, all the company we are likely to see once we get
underway tomorrow is proof of that. Cruisers make up the backbone of the
blockade not battleships. Battleships may win battles but cruisers will
win or lose this war in Europe. Cruiser can control the flow of commerce.
Britain, and to a lesser extent Germany need trade to survive. Cruisers
are blockaders, the commerce raiders, and the commerce protectors. As
long as the Royal Navy has enough cruisers to patrol the sea with, the
Germans are not getting through that blockade. I just wish we had more
cruisers to patrol with." Shaking his head the Captain added, "Oh
well we must make due with what Congress has seen fit to give us."
"You think there will be problems?" The commander asked, taking
a seat besides his Captain to get out of the harbor spray from the gig's
"No, not really," Peace replied, reaching into his pocket.
"Neither of them can afford to isolate us right now. All we're going
to be doing is watching, making sure the British wait till the German
ships are clear of our waters before they do anything. That is, if the
Germans try to make a run for it - which I don't think they're going to
"I could be wrong, though," he continued, as he began to pack
his pipe. "But, with the facts as they are, no, it just wouldn't
make any sense."
Peace paused as he struck a match and cupped it above the pipe bowl,
ignoring the gig's motions and the spray. "I agree with the Admiral
on one point though," he said, stem in mouth. "Certain members
of the Press and Congress would have a field day if something did happen
in our waters. The Pro and Anti-British and German lobbies have been rather
vocal lately, more so in the Press then Congress. All it would take is
a single incident. It'd set off a forest fire, and the president doesn't
want that. No, sir! Not one bit. So, our job's to keep it quiet on our
side of the pond."
Glancing again at the moored Kaiser Wilhelm II, now coming into
fuller view, he continued. "Hell, XO. That damn war over there doesn't
concern us. We've got nothing at stake and nothing to gain. Let the Europeans
fight it out. After all, they've been at it hundreds of times before.
And they'll still be at it hundreds of years from now."
Peace blew a stream of smoke into the freshening wind. "I'll tell
you one thing, though. I still feel like we're missing something, like
there's a puzzle piece on the floor, or something. In any case,"
he sighed, "be prepared, I always say. I want a department heads
meeting as soon as we get back aboard."
At least this could be a bit more interesting then another training trip
down to Norfolk to try out new torpedoes, Peace thought as they began
to approach his command.
---- June 12, 6:40 PM, bridge of Montana, 20 miles South-East of
Captain Peace looked out through his binoculars at a fishing trawler
heading for home in the calm waters off New York. "Nice day to be
at sea, wouldn't you agree Cdr?" Peace asked as he turned to his
XO who had walked up to him on the bridge.
"Yes, sir. It is always good to get away from the pier and try out
the Montana's sea legs."
"How's the crew taking the change of orders?"
"Most of the men are excited - they think we may see some action.
Depending on which scuttlebutt you hear it is the British or the Germans
we are going to have to explain things to". Pausing, the XO continued.
"Some in the wardroom were a bit disappointed, at first, with our
change of orders. It appears they'd finally badgered that naval station
bunch into meeting them on the diamond. They were looking forward to taking
their money, I suspect. And," Campbell continued, "Mr. Grinwould
is again upset with another delay in the test with his torpedoes that
BUORD sent him here to try.
"Tell the wardroom, welcome to the New Navy,' XO," Peace
said with a grin. "Besides, leaving the station team hanging may
let them up the stakes when we get back. I presume no one's informed the
marks what Green and Thompson lettered in at the Academy? Or that Smith
"Um," said the XO with a smile, "I don't think that ever
"And as for the good LCDR, I think we can find something to keep
him properly employed till this is over. Besides his torpedoes have yet
to work, and from what I have seen of the latest changes to the design,
I doubt they will work now. So a little delay in his test won't hurt him.
I know, have him work with Guns. We might as well get some work out of
him while we have him."
"Captain," came a call from the far side of the bridge. It
was Ensign Greg Morton, Montana's Comm Officer, in full stride.
"Just copied a message from Aylwin."
The XO frowned slightly at the young officer's demeanor.
"Well," said Peace, raising his eyebrows, "go on."
"Sir, Aylwin reports they are on an intercept course with
two unidentified contacts. They're reporting possible naval gun fire,
"Quartermaster! Aylwin's last reported position?" Peace
called as he strode over to the chart table.
"Sir, last report had her 10 miles South-East of Absecon Light."
"Officer of the Deck, come to 190. Make turns for 15 knots."
"Aye, aye, sir. Helm, right 5 degrees rudder. Come to course 190.
Ahead Standard, 15 knots."
"XO, this could be nothing, but inform the Engineer. We might be
about to stretch our lady's legs a bit more than I'd planned."
"Aye, aye, sir."
"Oh," added Peace after a moment. "Good job, Ensign. Get
your ear back on the ether."
Morton's youth betrayed him as he blushed.
"Aye, aye, sir."
---- June 12, 7:25 PM, bridge of Montana, course 190, speed 15
"Sir, more from Aylwin," reported LT Green to the captain,
who was standing out on the starboard bridge wing.
"Well what is it?" Captain Peace said, taking his pipe out
of his mouth.
" 1900, intercepted a German Liner and Cruiser.' Sir, Quartermaster
says their position's about 10 miles off New Jersey, somewhere between
the Absecon and Barneget Lights. Canadian cruiser Niobe engaged
Germans, but broke off. Liner damaged but underway.' "
"Damn, well so much for CinCLant's wishes to keep the Press and
Congress out. This is going to get ugly before it gets better. LT Green
set course for Barneget Light, full speed."
"Aye, aye, sir" he said, as he turned and went back into the
"Well, this is not what I expected when we got under way this morning.
What is a German cruiser doing way over here?"
"Raider?" CDR Alexander Campbell asked from his position next
to the Captain.
"Possibly, XO, nobody knew of a German light cruiser lose in the
Atlantic, but by running into American waters she lost the element of
surprise and any other advantages she had. It will be almost impossible
for her to get out again without a fight. The British will now park a
couple of cruisers off the coast and wait for her time to run out under
The Hague. Either we will end up interning her, or she will try to make
a run for it right into the waiting arms of the Royal Navy. We could have
a situation like France during our civil war, with the Alabama
"Well, Skipper, I agree with you on that. No matter what The Hague
and the Law say there is no way for us to prevent the British ships off
the Coast from being informed that she is getting under way. Right now
though I am more worried about Aylwin. She is alone out there with
a German blockade-runner and cruiser. And with a bunch of very hungry
British cruisers most likely converging on her position like wolves. The
British may try to take them while they are in our waters."
After watching the ocean for a minute, Peace nodded his head. "Unfortunately
I must agree. The English have a history of taking ships in neutral waters
when they felt it necessary. If it were just a runner, the British probably
would let her go and wait for her to try to leave, but that cruiser changes
everything. They may actually be welling to ruffle a few feathers to get
that cruiser. Who is closest, XO?"
"Winslow, Parker, and the Cost Guard Cutter Onoddaga out
"Not good and we're still about four hours away. A lot can happen
in four hours. Let's hope nobody decides to be a hero down there. Those
Destroyers could find themselves in a lot of trouble. I really wish we
had more cruisers. XO, tell the Engineer that I except to maintain 20
knots until we get to Barneget."
"Messenger of the watch," called Peace, as he turned and strode
back onto the bridge.
"Sir," responded the young seaman.
"Take this message to the wireless room. To Aylwin and CinC
Lant: Responding to arrival of German ships, estimate arrival Barneget
Light four hours.' Get confirmation of receipt from New York and
"Aye, aye, sir," the seaman replied, as he turned and headed
off the bridge.
---- June 12, 9:25 PM, bridge of Montana
"Captain, the latest traffic," LT Green said, walking over
from the messenger who had just arrived on the Bridge.
"What does it say, Lieutenant?"
"Basically, sir, Aylwin and Parker are with the German cruiser
off Barneget. The cutter Onoddaga will be arriving shortly to take
a look at the Imperator," the young LT said, while looking
at the papers he had in hand.
"Aylwin apparently held the Germans at Barneget and notified
The LT paused as he flipped through the papers
"It seems the Coasties will escort the liner into New York first
thing in the morning, while the Aylwin will stay with the cruiser
till someone makes up their mind on what's going to happen to it. We,
meanwhile, are to rendezvous with Winslow and Parker and keep an eye on
what the Royal Navy is up to. And, according to Aylwin's latest
report, there are two AMCs and the cruiser Niobe hovering between
five and ten miles off. Sure is getting crowded out there, sir."
"Yes, Lieutenant. It is likely to get more crowded yet. I imagine
every British warship on the East Cost is trying to get here. Well, we'll
be in the middle of it in less than two hours. Is there anything else
"No, sir. That's all."
"Very well, Lieutenant," Peace said, while shaking his head.
Peace turned as he saw his XO enter the bridge with a smile on his face.
"XO, something I should know?"
"I just came from the wardroom, CDR Grinwould didn't take having
to work with CDR Shoemaker well. When I left, he was arguing the various
merits of torpedoes over guns."
"I think Mr. Grinwould likes his underwater contraptions too much,
CDR Campbell looked down at the papers in the Captain's hands.
"The latest intercepts."
Captain Peace handed the papers to his XO, who quickly reviewed them.
"Well, sir. I think Aylwin was right to hold the Germans at Barneget.
It gives CinC Lant, and State time to figure out what to do."
Turning towards the port bridge wing and pulling out his pipe Peace responded.
"I agree on that, though we will not be able to hold the liner there
long. Apparently the Cost Guard has already cleared it to enter. They
will escort her in the morning, that just leaves the cruiser for us to
CDR Campbell followed out on to the bridge wing.
"So any ideas yet, sir."
"XO, I don't know what to think yet. Nothing about this situation
"Well, Commander, if the cruiser was a raider by running into American
waters as I already said, she has trapped herself. Now, as to escorting
the Imperator, that makes no sense either. I can think of very
little that you could ship on that liner that would be worth the loss
of the cruiser. If the Imperator is armed it could out shoot most
of the faster British ships she could possible bump into. It would be
just very bad luck to run in to one of the few ships that could catch
her and that actually out gun her and, if she did, I doubt that cruiser
would do her much good. The last possibility that comes to mind is that
she is to escort the Imperator, and the other Liners that have
been working up in an attempt to break out. But that is insane too. By
the time she is ready to get under way again, half the Royal Navy's cruisers
will be waiting for her outside New York; it would be a slaughter."
"Well, Skipper, the Germans must feel they can get her back out
or that her loss is worth what ever is on that ship."
"Maybe, Commander, but I don't see....."
Peace stopped in mid sentence, his pipe frozen halfway to his mouth.
"XO, what if Strassburg's not the only German out here? What
if there're more? Maybe with a prearranged rendezvous time to show up
to escort Strassburg and the liners back?"
"Are you crazy, Skipper? What do the Germans have that can do that?"
"Von Spee! What if they've pulled another von Spee?! Roon
and Yorck, for example, two of Germany's last ACRs. If they're
out here, with some light cruisers, it could be another Coronel, and the
liners end up with a free run."
Shaking his head, the Captain turned and walked towards the exit of the
"XO, I want to step up our drill tempo, starting with a GQ right
after breakfast, and another after lunch. I think things are about to
heat up out here. Officer of the Deck, I'll be in my sea cabin."
"Aye, aye, sir," both officers replied, almost in unison.
---- 12 June, 9:25 PM, bridge of Montana, approaching Barneget
"Well there she is," the XO said, binoculars fixed on the German
cruiser. His tone of voice suggested that he still found it hard to believe.
"She's definitely in US waters now. The plot has her one mile off
""Signals, to Aylwin: remain on station.' To Parker
and Winslow: form on Montana.' "
"Aye, aye, sir," replied the chief signalman.
"So, XO. What do you make of her?"
"I don't know. That silhouette's not in our books. She looks like
new construction, but she's calling herself Strassburg.'
If that's Strassburg, she's been heavily modified. Either way she's
a long way from home, sir."
LT Thompson, the current OOD, turned to Captain Peace and said, "Sir,
Parker and Winslow have acknowledged."
"Very well. To Strassburg: Interrogative intentions.'
"Lieutenant," Peace continued, while sweeping his binoculars
to the East, "I intend to take us out and see what the Royal Navy
has sent us for company, as soon we get matters settled here."
"Captain, from Strassburg: Repairs in progress. Estimated
time of repair 0900. Will hold position until then.' "
"Reasonable, plausible, in fact," commented Campbell. "But
I have my doubts on their so-called repairs.' "
"Yes," said Peace. To Strassburg: Concur. Aylwin
will remain on station. Signal prior to getting underway.' "
"Officer of the Deck, come to course 050. Ahead Standard, but bring
us up slowly."
---- June 12, 11:45 PM, approximately 10 miles off Barneget
"There she is, Captain," CDR Campbell called as he lowered
his binoculars. "Bearing 335. She's Niobe, sir."
"Sir, lookouts report another ship 1000 yards aft of Niobe.
Not a warship."
"Yes, I see her now. Probably an AMC."
"Sir, trailing ship tentatively identified as Val's Tract."
"AMC, all right," Peace said, turning towards his XO, "That
makes one cruiser and three AMCs now?"
"Yes, sir. Remember what you said about all those British cruisers?
Well, here they are."
"Unfortunately, I suspect we'll see more of them before this is
over. Ahead Slow, Signals, to Niobe: Interrogative Intentions.'
"Sir, from Niobe, Request permission to come aboard
"Well, well," said Peace. "To Niobe: Affirmative.'
Officer of the Deck, All Stop."
"XO, standby to receive visitors."
"Aye, aye, sir." Campbell strode off in haste, with thoughts
of side boys running around inside his head.
---- June 13, 11:00 AM, bridge of Montana, off of Barneget
"Secure from General Quarters, set the normal underway watch. On
deck section two," called the bosun of the watch.
"Well, XO, that went rather well," said the Captain, as he
pulled his pipe out and headed towards the bridge wing. "I want to
go over the results of the drill with all the department heads after Dinner,
before the next drill, particularly damage control."
"Aye, aye, sir," said Campbell as he turned to follow the Captain
off the Bridge.
Before either officer could make it to the exit, a messenger came onto
"Sir, signal from Aylwin. They report that a large number
of civilian craft have come out to see the German ship."
"What!?" Exclaimed the Captain turning around towards the Messenger.
"Repeat your last."
"Sir, Aylwin reports a large number of civilian boats have
come out to look at the German ship. Some are even trying to approach
"Very well," Peace said to the messenger.
"Damn, this gets better and better," Peace commented, once
the messenger left.
"What do you want to do, Skipper?"
Lighting his pipe, Peace considered.
"Send Parker to help Aylwin with the German and the small
boats. Also try to have them keep track of what boats actually talk to
or pass items to the Germans. I am sure somebody will want to know. Also
inform Winslow I don't know if they will come this far out to see the
British but, if they do, we will try to do the same thing. I wonder what
else can go wrong."
---- June 14, Noon, bridge of Montana, off Barneget
"OOD, from lookouts, Strassburg underway with Aylwin
following close astern. Parker appears still trying to keep all the civilian
boats out of the way."
"Good, Lieutenant, have the lookout keep an eye on the British ships.
They should start to move soon. When they do, I want to be informed immediately."
"It almost looks like a sailing regatta out here," Campbell
remarked as he walked over to the Captain. "You'd be hard pressed
to imagine there is a war on."
"There are too many civilian craft out there for my liking,"
agreed Peace. "And these newest orders, I want to know who dreamed
those up, they're impossible. With all these small boats running around
out there, how am I supposed to stop them from passing info to the British
or Germans? I have small craft carrying reporters trying to get interviews
from both sides. I have people coming out to greet and give gifts to both
sides and show their support. And then I have just the curious sightseers
out there. This is a mess."
"Well, sir. Aylwin and Parker are doing their best
around the German cruiser. Our problem is the British are so spread out
that Winslow and us can't cover them all."
"I know, Commander, I just wish we had more ships out here. It probably
will get better when we get to New York. Then we will only have to watch
the British. With us and three Destroyers, that shouldn't be too big of
Turning towards port bridge wing to watch the British Ships, he added,
"Speaking of which, I plan to request for Parker and Alywin
to top off their bunkers and resupply before they rejoin us out here.
As soon as they are finished, I'll send Winslow in to do the same.
That will give our destroyers a little bit more endurance out here. There's
no telling how long this'll drag on."
---- June 14, 6:00 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York Harbor
"Sir," said the OOD walking up to the Captain, "this just
in on the wireless. CINCLANT agrees with your plan."
Captain Peace took the paper from the young officer, quickly reviewing
"Good. Signals, ensure Parker received a copy of that message."
"Well," he said, turning to CDR Campbell, "soon it will
be out of our hands. All we'll have to do is baby-sit the British out
here. Though, I admit, I'd give a lot to be a fly on a couple of walls
for the next couple of days."
Snickering lightly, the XO replied, "Well, I imagine there're several
heated conversations going on since this started and I imagine it's only
going to get worse. But I agree with you on that it would be fun to eavesdrop
on some of those conversations right now."
OK, OOD. We're approaching the entrance to Lower New York Bay. I want
to take station at the three-mile limit off the entrance. Signals, to
Winslow: assume station to port.' OOD, it is my intention
for them to cover the southern part of the entrance. We will cover the
northern part of the entrance."
"Aye, aye, sir," called the Signalman.
"Now," said Peace, turning towards the XO, "all we have
to do is wait and watch until somebody makes a decision. I just hope we
don't have to wait for long."
---- June 15, 2:45 PM, Captain's seacabin, Montana, off of New
"Enter," called Peace, to the knocking on his cabin door.
"Captain, got a message here you might want to see," replied
"Well, Alex, what is it."
"Sir, Parker is on her way out, but Aylwin is being
held back. They're apparently doing ship visits and various other things
with the German ship."
"Not that surprising, Alex. Aylwin has been with the Germans
since they were first intercepted off the coast. They're probably more
comfortable with her and her Captain. The good news I see there is that
somebody back there is thinking. This gives us a chance to look at that
ship. Maybe it will get Daniel's and Congress to authorize more cruisers.
Anyway, have Parker assume Winslow's station, and release
Winslow to re-coal and re-supply. When she's finished, she's to
take the northern end of the entrance; we will take the middle, with Parker
taking the south."
Leaning back in his chair, Peace looked at Campbell.
"Well, there's been no change by the British. They're still casually
sitting about six miles out. The regatta is back, larger then yesterday."
"A lot of people are coming to see the battle from all around. So,
I expect the size of our little fleet will keep increasing till this is
over. I messaged Admiral Stennis about it, but he's given no indication
on what he wants done. I have no authority to chase them off, so all we
can do is watch and be prepared to get them out of trouble when the shooting
starts. This is ridiculous. If we had a stronger navy this would not be
happening. We look like fools sitting here."
"Skipper, what would you like to do."
"Alex, I don't like the idea of a foreign power being able to control
commerce off our coast. I couldn't care less what the Germans or British
are doing right now to each other. The more mutual mayhem they do, the
better; I don't trust either side. By The Hague, we have to allow the
German in to coal and resupply for at least 24 hours. But, if I had my
way, we would keep the British ships further from our coast. Say about
100 miles or so out. They have no business here. Imagine the uproar if
we were to try this off the English coast, at the mouth of the Thames,
for example, not that we have the ships, and that's the crux of the problem.
We will always be at the mercy of the Europeans unless we build up our
"Well then, maybe something good will come out of this sir. Somebody
may realize we need a larger navy."
"We can only hope, Alex. We can only hope."
---- June 17,1:20 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York
"Sir," the JOOD called out. "Lookouts report a new British
cruiser has joined formation with the others. Appears to be a Town Class
light cruiser. Possibly Sydney, out of Jamaica. She appears to
be flying an Admiral's Pennant."
"Most likely Vice-Admiral Patey come to take charge of this operation,
personally. I really do not like the thought of so many foreign warships
parked off of an American port; it sets a bad precedent. I think it's
time to remind the British where they are. Signals, signal Parker
and Winslow to maintain station. OOD lay in a course to our newest
guest. We're going out to meet them. I intend to pass within 500 yards
of the Sydney. Signals, while you are at it, lay out proper greeting
flags. This is, after all, just a friendly reminder." Captain Peace
chuckled to himself.
"Captain," called ENS Morton, as he walked on to the bridge.
"We just received this."
"About time," said Peace, looking over the message. "Looks
like Admiral Patey made it just in time. The Strassburg is being
informed she must sail between 6:09 AM on the 18th and 6:09 AM on the
19th of June."
"Well, XO, it looks like tomorrow will be the last day of this.
We're also getting some help. New York and Wyoming are coming
out, with the rest of the 6th Destroyer Squadron, under the command of
Admiral Alton. XO, I want to have most of the crew stand down this afternoon
after we return to station, especially the black gang. They'll probably
get a good work-out tomorrow, so I want them resting up while they can."
"Tomorrow night then?"
"Most likely, Commander, unless they're trying for a Coronel. Well,
any way you put it, we'll get a better idea of what is going on when the
Germans set sail. Till then, we have a new guest to greet."
---- June 17, 6:20 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York
"Captain" called the OOD. "New traffic from CINCLANT."
"Thank you, Lieutenant," the Captain replied, as he took the
messages. After quickly reviewing the messages, he turned to his XO. "New
York and Wyoming have exited the outer harbor. We are to rendezvous
with them tomorrow just after dawn."
"That's a lot of fire power out here for the Germans' coming out
party," replied the XO.
"Yes, we should be able to handle just about anything that the Germans
or British try. Still, I feel uneasy about this."
"What do you mean, Skipper?"
"There are now, what, 6 AMC's and three cruisers out there, with
reports of a lest one or two more cruisers further out? Then, there may
be a couple more AMCs and possibly another cruiser off of Boston, and
another group of AMCs parked off of the Chesapeake and Philadelphia. We
have two dreadnoughts, an armored cruiser, and a destroyer squadron here
at New York. Off Boston the Brooklyn and a couple of destroyers,
with our sister ship the North Carolina due back tomorrow. Then, there're
destroyers covering the Chesapeake and Philadelphia. That's an awful lot
of ships out here. The Germans have to know what the British and we have
out here, as the British must know also. The only ship that might be a
surprise is the North Carolina. There're too many chances for a
mistake to happen. Then, poof, everything will go up in flames."
The Captain pulled out his pipe and started to pack it as he turned towards
the bridge wing.
"It makes no sense for those liners to make a run for it, but I
feel it in my bones that they really are coming out tomorrow."
"What do you think well happen, Skipper?" Campbell asked, as
he turned to follow.
"It depends on what the Germans do tomorrow when they come out.
The way I see it is the Liners will do one of two things. They will all
take off at the same time and try to make a break for it, or the ships
in Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia will leave early, stay in our waters
till they get here and rendezvous with the rest of the German ships here
before heading out. Either way, we won't know for sure till they make
"If the Germans are trying to pull a Graf Spee again, the
rendezvous makes the most sense."
"True, Commander, but even then, that would be a lot of British
ships for two German ACRs and however many more CLs the Germans managed
to scrounge free. The British ships, as well as our own on those stations,
would follow those ships here, just increasing the number of ships they
would have to fight or escape from. And any German ship that is damaged
is a long way from home or a friendly port. Any damage they take would
be a death sentence," Peace added, as he lit his pipe. "Actually,
if the Germans are trying for a Graf Spee, I believe only the ships
here in New York would make a run for it. But with the reports we have
of the other liners loading and topping off their bunkers, it sure looks
like they're all coming out. Besides, I don't think CINCLANT took my suggestion
that there might be a pair of German ACRs out here planning to rendezvous
with the ships here very seriously. Maybe they know something I don't
know about the current whereabouts of Roon and Yorck. After
all, that's their job."
"Looks like tomorrow is going to be mess, Skipper."
"Yes, Commander, I believe you're right. The GQ drills have gone
rather well, so we should be rather prepared in that department if we
have to be, but I want you to get together with deck and medical tonight.
I want to be able to put boats in the water in a hurry, if we have to.
We probably will be fishing a lot of people out of the sea tomorrow, and
I want medical ready to receive casualties. I have a very forbidding feeling
about tomorrow," Peace said as he looked off to the East.
"Aye, aye, Skipper."
---- June 17, 8:15 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York
"Captain on the Bridge," called the Boatswain of the watch,
as Captain Peace strode onto the bridge.
"Report, Lieutenant," called Peace.
"Wilson reports Sydney is leaving station and heading Northwest
at 20 knots, Captain."
"Any change with the rest of the British ships?"
"No, sir. All the other ships are still maintaining station."
"Very well. Signal Winslow to maintain station. Move us over
onto a converging course. I want to see where they're going."
"Message from Admiral Alton, Captain," called the XO, as he
strolled on to the bridge.
Reviewing the message, Peace called out: "Belay my last, we will
maintain station. It appears they're on their way to meet Admiral Alton."
Walking over to the chart table, Peace said, "XO, OOD, Navigator,
Admiral Alton's orders are for us to rendezvous with him at dawn. There,
he added, pointing to a spot on the map. "So, we shall withdraw from
our current patrol position at 0445. Once we join the Admiral's force,
the destroyers will rejoin the rest of their squadron. OOD, make sure
Parker and Winslow are informed."
"Aye, aye, sir."
Turning towards his XO, "Well, Commander, are Deck and Medical ready?"
"Yes, sir. LT Green said he will have the boats cleared and ready
for action, and Doc is getting Sickbay ready."
"Good, but make sure Mr. Green's preparations don't get in the way
of the gun crews. I don't expect to need them tomorrow, but I don't want
to be caught unprepared."
"Aye, aye, sir. What do you think the Admiral will do with our sailing
regatta?" Campbell asked.
"He'll probably assign one or two of the Destroyers to watch over
them. I just hope that, when the shooting starts, the civilians have enough
sense to get out of the way. A stray shell does not care who it hits,
and that is all we need to have happen - a civilian boat to get hit by
a stray round from the British or Germans. Tomorrow is going to be so
much fun. I think Admiral Alton is going to be very busy, as shall we."
by Marvin Peace/Heiwa