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Snargfargle

Operation Raptor Rescue (Part 3)

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Other than the technicians, and a few others, the Mongoose's crew consisted almost entirely of officers and men who served in my uncle's intelligence-gathering command. Although I've seen many a sailor who has seen a great deal of combat, these men all had a strange look about them – a look that seemed to indicate that they had seen more than even the normal horrors of war.

It was more than strange being the “captain” of the Mongoose. I say “captain” because I really wasn't sure that I was the captain of the ship. It almost seemed that I was more of a liaison officer between the intelligence command members and the "normal" Navy. I was quite obviously outranked by several other officers on board and out-educated by most of them too. Heck, I was out-educated by most of the men as well. Just as I could see by her lines that the Mongoose was no ordinary ship, reading their (highly redacted) personnel files revealed that its crew was no ordinary crew. I say “officers” and “men” only because I assigned them this status personally based on their position on the ship. Nowhere in their files was mention of rank and nobody on the ship but myself onboard wore any rank insignia.

Some of the officers had attained levels of education that many only dream of. For instance. The ships surgeon was not only a physician, he also was a DVM (veterinarian) and had a dual PhDs in molecular biology and cellular biology. One of his “corpsmen” (if that was indeed what they were) had two Master's degrees and the other was a MD himself.

Our chief engineer had PhD's in both mechanical and electrical engineering and his assistant had a PhD in theoretical physics. Both consulted heavily with their team, which I had been informed were not civilians per but whom I should just let do their job and leave alone unless there was a shipboard emergency, as they were not under my direct command. That was only one of the many secrets of this ship of secrets. It almost was as if I were not captaining a real vessel but driving some board game ship that ran itself, one which I only had limited control over in telling it where to go and when to fire its guns.

I was not even allowed full access to my own ship, which grated on me as its new captain but was made very clear to me by my uncle and also his boss, Admiral Nimitz. Perhaps the most curious thing about the ship was its lack of smokestacks. Though I did have access to enough of the engine area to ascertain that twin steam turbines were its primary means of propulsion, never once did I see the ship refuel with oil, nor did I ever even see anywhere that it could refuel. Nor could I ever ascertain where the fuel tanks might be located on this small destroyer. The only clue was a large room in the engine area to which I had no access, a fact made clear by a 24-hour Marine guard. Just what the ship was “burning” to generate it's steam I had no idea, although I'd taken enough physics classes at West Point to venture a guess.

Although the ship's electronics looked a bit more highly advanced than “normal” and there was the occasional security-sealed compartment, most of the rest of the ship was familiar to any naval officer, including its armaments, although its guns were obviously of an advanced type. Though the ship was half the size of a Farragut-class destroyer, it mounted larger guns, cruiser-caliber guns, though only two of them. However, these guns were cased-ammunition auto-loaders and required only a small fire-control and servicing crew. Furthermore, the guns were wire-directed so no crew actually had to be in the turrets when they were firing, unless repairs or magazine reload was needed. The main battery guns also were radar guided, as were the two advanced twin 40mm Bofors guns anti-aircraft cannon the ship mounted. Furthermore, all the main battery shells sported the latest proximity fuses, which meant that they were capable of acting as anti-aircraft cannon too if needs be.  To say that the Mongoose sported the latest in technology was an understatement. In fact, I was not to see all of its technology incorporated into the ships of the fleet until well after I retired, but that is a story for another time.

It was rumored (not by the men on the Mongoose, for a more tight-lipped bunch I'd never seen) that it was my uncle himself who had discovered much of the advanced technology upon which many modern ship and plane designs would be based for years to come. However, just who had he obtained this technology from? None of our allies (nor any of our enemies, for that matter) seemed yet to possess such advancements as the Mongoose sported. Perhaps this also was why the Mongoose and its engineering crew were tasked to repair the Ranger when there certainly were closer service crews available. Did that “antiquated” carrier, being part of uncle Seymore's task force, also sport advanced technology? I did not know, My job was only to direct my ship to meet up with the repair and resupply convoy and help escort them to the “Raptor” (I'd better get used to calling the Ranger by its codename if I'm going to be soon writing this down in an official log). Of course, I also was to direct any operations against the enemy, should they be encountered. In many ways, as “captain” of the Mongoose I would only be performing my old job as a fire-control officer, although I also would be directing the ship in tactical maneuvers.

The Mongoose.

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Edited by Snargfargle
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