Visiting Ship

by Dave Eberhart

Delby was a Torpedoman.

I know that should be enough said, but Delby was a Topedoman extraordinaire. He loved his forward room and took great pride in showing it off to tourists. Whenever we got stuck with visiting ship, and Delby had the duty, he would deliver the tour the entire day.

He had a system: First he would station himself at the forward 'crotch-watch' post as the guests were loaded aboard, making sure that each female guest was given a hand to steady her feet on the ladder. I won’t bother to mention that he frequently got some very disturbing looks from the male companions of the female guests... Something to do with the position of his face and hands as he helped them aboard. Next he would slowly circle the room explaining various components of interest. He had a way of making the most ordinary piece of equipment, such as a signal ejector, seem like a delicate, hi-tech piece of precision machinery. His crowning moment however, was his description of tube-loading a weapon. He turned a simple evolution into an erotic tale. He would stand by the nose of a MK-14 as he would tell of the wondrous explosive power this weapon held. He would gently caress the warhead and begin to tell how the men would carefully grease - and this is where the subtle change of the word 'torpedo' became 'shaft' - the entire length of the shaft. Making sure that all areas were covered in grease to protect the shaft from moisture and help it in its penetration of the dark, moist tunnel. At this point, he would open the inner door as he explained that it must be wide open so the shaft could enter correctly. He would then describe how the men carefully inserted the tip to make sure that it was properly aligned before they rammed it home and locked it in place.

By the time he finished this tale, every woman in the group had both hands firmly gripped on their companion's arm and were casting longing looks at the honeymoon suite below the loading hatch. The COB once made the comment that Delby should give his talk in the after room so the ladies could get the men off the boat while the iron was still hot.

Delby had talent.

One warm summer evening, a day or two after we loaded 4 or 5 middies aboard, the 1MC blared out,

"Now rig ship for lady visitors..." and just a brief second later in an almost whisper we hear the word 'skirts'. It seems that one of the midshipman had found his way to Conn College and rounded himself up a couple of heifers. Being a lot cheaper to impress them with his very own big, black submarine than by buying them a drink, he made that choice and brought them aboard.

Delby had the duty.

On that particular evening, a room watch was assigned to the forward room for reasons most of you are aware of. Delby dived below the deck plates with the life jackets, chainfalls and other paraphernalia that belongs in a torpedo room, wiggling his way around in preparation to gluing an eyeball to the finger holes in the deck plates. The room watch quickly took the position of 'crotch-watch' and helped the ladies down. Our young middie began describing the room in bullshit terms that even impressed Delby just below. He pointed to a MK-14 and told how that 10,000-pound weapon could wipe out an entire convoy and the smaller ones (MK-37) were used when 'his submarine' had only a single target to attack.

(I think he never graduated from the academy, but became an advisor for hire on submarine movies... That would explain a lot of the bad movies, now that I think about it).

You could hear Delby rustling around just below as the middie strolled about the room, with girls in tow, giving his outrageous explanations. Suddenly, without warning, he reached down by one of the girl's feet, jabbed his fingers through the finger holes and proceeded to lift the deck plate as he stated,

"And under here we have..."

And there was Delby’s grinning face, having just barely avoided being blinded by two fingers. There was a pause and a startled look on the middies face, but he recovered quickly and slammed the plate down with a loud,

"...a sailor working."

He grabbed the girls and literally drug them through the hatch into the Forward Battery.

As he breezed through the compartment, he mentioned something about berthing quarters and the wardroom, but it wasn’t much. He continued on through the Control Room which he called the 'combat-info-center' and pointing to the belowdecks watch with a reference to a 'sailor on alert', charged into the After Battery - right into the arms of about eight of your finest, deep-water gentlemen.

Completely rattled, he mumbled something about a gathering place and everything else on the submarine was a security area so they had to leave the boat here, meaning the After Battery hatch. A bit flustered by such an audience, he wasn’t entirely sure of how to exit gracefully. Leroy solved his problem. He stood up and placed himself by the ladder and suggested to the middie that he go topside and assist the ladies as they came up. No other way out of this, he agreed, knowing full well he had just placed the rat in charge of the cheese.

Up he went and Leroy helped the less comely of the two up the ladder like any gentlemen would. Putting forth his best imitation of a soft southern drawl, he offered to take the other one’s hand and help her get started. She said something about this ship smelled so 'manly' as she started to climb. With Leroy’s hand on her leg and his head practically half way up her skirt, she actually looked down and said,

"My number is --- ----" and continued her exit.

The final score for the evening... The room watch got an eyefull, Delby was almost blinded, Leroy got a phone number and the rest of crew got a new story to tell.

Sleep well America... All is normal on the river.