Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 13, 2013

HAMILTON: Thinking back to 'Quiet! I can't see'

Niagara Gazette — Have you ever noticed that often the stated solution to a problem is in no way related to the real problem? Take this personal case, for instance.

After a two-month cruise in the Caribbean Sea, the USS Farragut was returning to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., and was approaching the outermost buoy that marked the Chesapeake Channel into harbor. The crews of Navy ships are often very excited when homeward-bound after being out to sea for awhile, and the phenomena known as ‘channel fever’ sets in. It is then when military decorum goes out the portholes and the bridge watch becomes rather chatty.

Such it was on that summery day, as Farragut made her way home; and as the noise of the pilothouse cascaded of Junior Officer-of-the-Deck (JOOD) Ensign E.P. Kiss’ 5-foot-5 or so frame.

The excessive noise bothered Mr. Kiss, who was a stickler for military decorum — and honestly, it was a tad bit disturbing for even me. I stood by and watched, calling out information from the Combat Information Center on ships and other conditions that may have presented a hazard to our guided missile destroyer.

Initially, Kiss stood head-high at the window, diligently doing his job, his binoculars scanning the sea for ships.

However, a part of Kiss’ job was actually to maintain bridge order for the Officer-of-the-Deck, who was his immediate watch supervisor; even if the OOD didn’t seem to mind the moral breakdown.

It became obvious to most of the bridge watch that Kiss was disturbed when the diminutive man lowered his binoculars, angrily turned towards us and emitted the sternest grimace that his innocuous face could muster. But no one seemed to pay him any attention. He turned and continued his horizon scans.

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