13th and the 14th of December
The shaft bearing repairsbecome an epic of a job. For nearly 48 hours Zuiho sails, tail dragging a mad wake behind her, with one shaft locked.
In the damp hell of the shaft tunnel, repairs are attempted.
You cannot weld oil soaked cast iron. But you can drill it, tap threads in the holes, and fashion a patch .
Sounds easy, but in conditions of extreme crampness, with only hand tools, this job becomes a true battle.
There is, of course, only one set of suitable taps as well onboard, and Charge threatens death to the man who breaks it.
The man, as usual, becomes two men, Hirate and Okano.
Oddly enough, large parts of the job become enjoyable. Surrounded by the ocean, the shaft remans pleasantly cool to work in, compared to the tropical heat of the boiler rooms.
But, as fatigue, and blisters mount, this job becomes merely a struggle.
They do, however, succeed.
Charge sends them to bed, and reports to Minobe.
"It is done.....we are raising vacuum"
Minobe merely nods. he does not need to ask anything, seek anything else. It is done.
Minobe reports to Takeji
"It is done"
The Captain, too, merely nods.
"Very good. let me know when full power is available again"
That is all. All that is needed. Instead of continuing North back to Japan, as he feared they would do, Takeji can remain with the fleet here deep in the phillipine sea.
Zuiho continues in her place,
Combined fleet turns west.
Destination Singapore, and hopefully, her missing children.