1275psi -> RE: The little ship that could. (8/31/2010 8:03:37 AM)
Hiroshima naval base
Po Hirate carefuuly makes his way down the ladder into the dimness below.
It is quiet, and surprisingly cold down here at the moment, the machinery around him currently dead, or indifferent.
Silently he address the two boilers, the masses of auxiliary machinery about him “Ok you bitches –who’s going to give me trouble today?’
The machinery, of course does not answer –he will find out he is sure in his own time.
He takes his position before the two boilers, and takes up the machinery running log. It is clean, virginal at the moment. In time –if they are lucky, these pages will tell a story of their own. But for now, the date, the time will suffice.
Others clatter down the ladder to join him –his two sprayer punchers, his leading seaman water tender, another trainee, wide eyed and plainly apprehensive.
Hirate gives him the first, and most important task.
“5 teas -and don’t come back with out some breakfast!”
He scuttles back up the stairs, Hirate is sure he will work it out……….
The work begins.
Systems to be aligned. Boiler to be topped up. Feed regulators to be stroked. It takes time, but there is plenty available – the rest of the ship sleeps, they will be finished, if all goes well, well before dawn.
The tea, the sweet rolls arrive – ahh, the lad has promise. Breakfast is good , helps the work.
Small electrical pumps, fans whir into life.
Hirate has done this a million times – he gives the pleasure to the newbie. Under careful eyes, the oil soaked rag is lit, allowed to flare, thrust under the ventilation blower .
It remains lit.
The small port in the boiler is opened –the flame thrust in. frantic flapping of boiler flaps –‘Come on you bitch!”
CRRUMMMPTH! –the whoosh – and the universal cry –repeated over all the steam ships that have ever sailed –‘Light under 1A boiler! –got the F#@%^&R”
It will take time –but eventually the pressure guage starts to creep upwards. A man races to the uptakes, closes the steam cocks –and the whistle is killed.
Temperature? –a tickle less fuel, ………….
Hirate nods to the two boys – they disappear upstairs –and soon the roar of steam drains opened fills the space.
Then, off –as the whine of the first blower rises slowly to life.
Secure the motor driven, now for the fuel pump.
It’s a bitch -of course – reluctant to begin stroking –but Hirate is irresistible –soon it too is plunging up and down steadily.
All is good.
Feed pumps coming online –the water tender needs no supervision, he is a old hand..
And by dawn, he is done –the stops are open, the steam steadily flowing unseen, silently, next door. So far, so good.
LCDR Minobe climbs the gangway, heavily, and slowly.
A bad night –not yet really finished……………
A large plume of steam –exhaust, is roaring from a relief pipe on the edge of the curved funnel –it curls over the flight deck, dissipates in the early air.
Some bloody flier blocks his path.
“from Hidaka- can you please attend to the steam –he cannot spot all his planes with us getting half cooked”
Minobe growls “half cooked hey?. Tell Hidake that Japanese food is either fully raw, or completely charred –which would he prefer?”
The messager stares at him , and internally Minobe is pleased. Ignorant barsteds.
“tell him I will attend to it as soon as I can”
And with that, Zuiho’s engineer disappears forward to his cabin, closes the door, and crashes onto his bunk.
He is asleep in seconds.
Po Okano, in the other boiler room, does not have it nearly as easy. He forgets a valve, lifts a relief – flames out once, and takes nearly twice as long to “get online”
What he does not know, and cannot see, is that the relief never resets –the source of the plume now totally pissing Hidake off.
It does not appear much, this stream of steam –but every second, another litre of water disappears into the air.
Zuiho’s little engine plant is quietly bleeding to death…………..
Captain Hasegawa enters the bridge –searching for the executive officer. He has been stodgily wading through the hand over paperwork, and updating the captains ships book –and becoming more and more dismayed as the day goes on. An Ex tanker for heavens sake!
What standards do tankers get built too?
But now there are bigger issues .Far bigger. Sailing orders. War orders in all but name.
The executive officer is there, busy with one of the midshipmen.
“On the basin trial?”
“Oh –sorry sir, haven’t turned mains yet – not sure why’
Hasegawa spots the lie immediately. Should he challenge it? Or is it something minor that they don’t want me to fret over. After all –this is the first day under power.
Let it pass.
“All officers wardroom- 1300”
And as he departs – he overhears the quiet command –“for gods sake find Minobe –and lets get this done”
The great throttle turns easily, and at his fingertips, power surges through Zuiho’s simple little turbines……………
“Basin trial complete”
There –the bitch goes. No problems. On our arse again in feed water. Never mind..
Happy, but slightly ignorant, he makes his way to the wardroom.
Little Zuiho will be ready to sail by dawn tomorrow.
Her engineering crew, unseen, will work all night repairing the reluctant valve, and all night vapping to make up the lost feed water. She will top her tanks of fuel, of oil, of fresh water..
Final spares will be stowed, decks scrubbed, and the ship secured for sea. There will be no final nights leave thanks to that valve………….
Zuiho rests easily at the pier, a stiff breeze pushing against her side. Around her, japan sleeps, a million lights shining in the dark. Her duty watch will prowl, her gangway crew will pace the decks, and envy the few that do have permission to go ashore.
The night will be peaceful.
And there will be absolutely no indication this night, for what is to come.
(awaiting first turn back! good luck Cantona !)