1655 hrs, 21/1/44
The first hour of the first watch all but done.
Lurch carefully places his empty brew mug onto its hook in the phone box, gathers up the rounds sheets, his dip tape and liquid state book.
Making no attempt to be heard over the canalopy of sound in the engine room, he merely catches the eye of Hirate, and waves his finger in a circle .
"Going for a set of rounds"
Hirate, concentrating on the guage board, merely nods.
Away you go.
Lurch has that most taxing of duties now, Chief of the watch. Although no Chief, his responsibilities however, are immense. There is much to do, and not much time.
But there is a certain freedom in this job, which more than makes up for that.
Swiftly he climbs up and out of the engine room, squeezing his considerable bulk through the narrow action hatch, up and into the lower hanger.
Forward now, ducking under a Jills wing, aircraft maechanics hanging all over it like ripe fruit (how much bloody attention does a plane need?), through the door, down the hatch here, and into the lower forward passageway.
He will stop at the very end, right up near Zuihos snout.
Now the physical labour begins, down onto knees, swing the hatch, open it, dog it open, squeeze down through it, down the ladder.
Forward pump room.
Check the pump bearings by feel, listen to the noise...........no change, take out the rounds sheet............pressure, noted, suction, noted.
bilges dry, ok, up and out.
Shut the hatch, dog it down.
Dog it good, Lurch has been beaten once for failing to do that............
Head aft 20 feet
Forward feed tank, port. Unscrew the sounding tube cap, take out the dip tape, drop it, raise it, record the reading.
22 tons. Almost full. Good.
Now for the starboard one
21 tons. very good.
Back into the lower hanger deck, and to about half way down aft, another hatch, down to the DCC flat.
Three more tanks, two feed, one fresh.
Fresh a bit low...............
Now Lurch pokes his head into damage Control Central, Charge, as usual is head bent over, working on paper work. What Lurch is after is right there, night orders book, ready to do its rounds
He heads aft.
More tanks, a fresh water pump to start in the starbaord engine room. Night order book to read, sign, and hand to Okano. Gossip to gather at the damage control stations, at this moment fully manned, Zuiho being at state two.
Checks on the diesel, checks on the after pump room, the steering gear.
He will be soaked with sweat by the finish.
1800 hrs, and he has returned to the Engine room.
He does the sums... this Vap made that much, add this, subtract that,.....bloody mathematics, grrr, converting to percentages........feed 90%, Fresh 75%
"Port Boiler room, swing your vap to fresh please".
Hirate hands him his sheets.
The daily running log, these, along with the liquid state, now have to go to Charge, then Minobe.
Lurch grins......"No cow today Petty Officer?
Hirate gives him a sour look........."No, Minobe told me to take it to the slaughter house.I have no idea what will keep me amused now down in this wonderland"
"Oh, I am sure you will find something"
"Oh, get out, and get straight back, we are at state two you know"
"Yes Petty Officer!"
He departs again.
Charge merely glances at the figures, "get em to Minobe"
Quietly, almost gently, he knocks on the barsteds door.
'"Liquid state sir"
(Oh, how good to see you, you fat barsted, still here, still in pain. Beat me, will you.............)
"Any problems Leader?"
'None sir!" .as if you would know...................
For a moment Minobe seems to be about to speak again. His eyes examine lurch........(.No, he does not know. he suspects.........but he cannot know....)
'Will that be all sir?"
'yes, action stations in 10 minutes........"
Lurch detours on his way back, ducking out to one of the 25 MM gun bays hanging limpet like off the hanger deck.
Ten minutes, time to share a smoke with the gunners, take in the sun, the sea, the fleet about them.
Perk of the job.
There is land only 5 miles away
"Where the hell are we?"
It costs a smoke, but he gets a reply for a change..."South of Timor. Shot hole ain't it?"
Sh#t hole. A good term for it, I suppose.
But there is no time to dwell on that, the next set of rounds are due.