Dead In The Water: Destroyers, Submarines and France.

When I was in the Navy a long time ago, I was stationed on a Destroyer. We were deployed at the time in the Mediterranean Sea for 7 months. It is considered a pretty desireable cruise because you get to see a lot of European countries, the weather is usually pretty good and the sea is smooth as glass. During that cruise I had liberty in Barcelona, Spain; Naples, La Spezia, Rome, Italy; Athens, Greece; a city in Turkey I don’t recall the name of; the Greek islands of Mykinos, Tinos; Crete; Malta; Sicily; and a few other places.

One country that I didn’t get to visit was France. We were scheduled to go there 3 times during our deployment in the Med. Unfortunately, we had to remain Dead in the Water for 27 days observing a Russian submarine. It was during that 27 days that we were scheduled to go to France. Since the Cold War between our two great countries was still on, we were watching each other. One of the main missions of a United States Destroyer ship is to seek out enemy submarines and destroy, if necessary. Our ship was under orders to watch this particular submarine. I didn’t quite understand it all because as a sailor my job was just to follow orders. I was one of the radiomen that had to make sure that ship to ship/ship to shore communications was always up and running correctly and efficiently. We used transmitters/transceivers and radio teletype equipment. There was a lot of pressure involved but it was fun. I loved communicating by teletype to other ships, naval stations and other military installations all over the world.

During that period of 27 days we were not allowed to take on provisions or to run certain equipment onboard the ship and we were in General Quarters condition much of the time. It got hot because we couldn’t run the air conditioning. We ate a lot of powdered eggs and canned goods. It was not the best 27 days I’ve ever spent in my life.

At the end of the 27 days, the Russian sub surfaced. I don’t remember exactly what else happened but our mission was over. The Russian sub left the Mediterranean and we finally were allowed to take on fresh provisions, turn on the air conditioning plus the other machinery and return to normal ship operations. We weren’t Dead in the Water anymore.

Some good things have happened. The ENEMY may think he’s hidden in the murky depths but it’s not over yet. There is still work to do. Sometimes you just have to patiently wait. It may be uncomfortable. You may have to go through some hardships but eventually the ENEMY will have to surface, be swiftly dealt with and things will return to normal. One day I might get to visit France after all.

This is based on a true story I wrote in January, 2005. I was applying it, anecdotally to something that was happening in my life, at the time, but it can apply to the present, as well.

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