Union Forever!"^1 was the brain-orphan of this idiot;
Ralph Waldo Christie (30 August 1893 – 19 December 1987) was an admiral in the United States Navy who played a pivotal role in the development of torpedo technologies. During World War II, he commanded submarine operations out of the Australian ports of Brisbane and Fremantle.
U.S. Navy - Vice admiral Ralph W. Christie.
Somewhere out there was supposed to be the recently converted tanker-submarine USS Argonaut
with about 100 tonnes of fuel oil for the USS Moondragon
to imbibe, so she could make her own suicide run into the target and hopefully get out again. Once out, she would take on additional fuel and return to base, hopefully with a success or at least data, on what the IJN was doing at the target. LTCDR Moosbreger is warm wet and miserable, but at least he has a submarine under him. His four lookouts are, are semi-crucified, lashed to steps on the periscope and mast combs and are trying to find USS Argonaut's
dark silhouette in a dark cloud studded night which should mask the tanker boat from Japanese subchasers and magnetic anomaly detector equipped Mavises and Emilys. That is the current plan. Whether USS Argonau
t makes it or LTCDR Stephen Barchet has the sense to dead reckon the rendezvous, Moosbreger does not know. Unlike LTCDR Barchet, who has an unwarranted optimistic high opinion of himself, LTCDR Moosbreger, by now, is a realist. He figures Barchet is as untalented as the man who laid on this operation, so it would not surprise LTCDR Moosbreger if the USS Argonaut
was NORTH of the target about 1400 kilometers away from where she was supposed to be.
Whether or not LTCDR Oscar Moosbreger is going to be even more unhappy this morning depends on whether recently promoted LT(j.g.) Barry “Barnacles” O. Pulliver (signals) has good news from the four bells radio dump. The last three weeks aboard the boat have been a mixture of boredom, frantic maintenance on the USS Moondragon
air-plant and getting to know the Mark 20 Mod 5 electric torpedo and learning how to keep the boat upright, while she carries a one hundred tonne mini-sub on the strong-back. LTCDR Mossbreger knows about the wobbles, now, because going out of Brisbane past the off shore islands and reefs had been his first occasion to experience the "wobbles" as he tried to dodge RAN patrol boats and the poorly charted minefields as he navigating shoal waters west of Moreton island and headed out Brisbane harbor due north on course 000. The cross winds had almost thrust USS Moondragon
into the mine-belts just off Fort Bribie. That was what sail effect the XJEM 213 had on the USS Moondragon
. The wind should not have had that much sideways push. But it did, and it was constant right rudder and port screw to counteract the shove forces to keep USS Moondragon
away from the mines. The same effect was now present as USS Moondragon
tried to keep her rendezvous at 0.065918 latitude , and longitude 158.296033, which was about 1 week out from the top secret target.
"Has Argonaut given us a Yoke signal?" Moosbreger asks Pulliver.
Pulliver finger combs his wet slick brown hair and replies, "Yup. She's about 20 mikety-kellies due east of us and holding."
"DAMN! We're two hours away in these seas and local dawn breaks in four hours." If this front moves off, we'll be in broad daylight for any Joe Samurai with binoculars and a depth charge fetish: he will be able to find us as we lay to for fuel transfer." Moosbreger grouses.
"Surfer weather, for the blind. We'll be okay, Cap." Pulliver optimistically opines. "We'll be loaded and under by 0600 and safer than Carpendar at his golf course, or you can call me, Meyer!"
At 0800 Oscar Moosbreger, now inside the submarine inside the Conn, as he currently follows up a nervous sonarman's contact report of screw noises due north of the two submarines as they try to transfer fuel, gets on the 1MC, puts out a call to see how that evolution proceeds. "How's the fuel transfer, going, Meyer? Did Argonaut
float over the hose line, yet?"
Pulliver's voice filled with tension and strain, answers tinally over the loudspeaker above Moosbreger's head. "No, sir. Line thrower failed, again, so they are boating it over to us."
Moosbreger curses. "No worries, son. We just have a smear contact due north of us. Kidweller thinks it might be a subchaser practicing... you know... sub-chasing... for grins and giggles this morning. How's the weather look?"
"Clearing to the west, sir." comes the strained reply.
"You get one more try and one hour, and then I pull the plug. Get it done, Mister. GET IT DONE!"
"Aye, aye, sir." is the answer.
What more is there to do or say?
In the USS Moondragon's forward torpedo room, things are not going too well, either.
The Mark 20 torpedo is taken apart in three sections. The cakepan warhead which is a direct design theft of the German G7E torpedo warhead configuration has the the Mark 9 influence exploder completely extracted and the initiator exposed. Two torpedomen, Thomas Ewell and Perry Conaught, function test it by moving a ferrous metal rod across the length of the device. In theory, the permanent magnets inside the initiator will interact with an electric current generated within the exploder. The current which is disturbed and interrupted by the test mass trips a circuit logic circuit that operates the solenoid and causes it to discharge. The solenoid switch will function in turn to drive a hammer into the currently inert firing pin. Both men should hear a click as the hammer functions.
"No click." Ewell comments.
Connaught shrugs his shoulders, "This is the sixth time, we tested this hing. It has to be the current generator. It has to be. Everything else is solid state and idiot proofed. It cannot fail. This is not the Mark 6 which relies on the Earth's magnetic field. The Mark 9 is supposed to be independent of that influence. Damn GE vacuum tubes!
"Well; it does not work." Ewell suggests. "Another Christie brainwave that is garbage." As a Cal Tech graduate, Ewell is not impressed with geniuses named after untalented poets, who graduated from the Massachusetts Idiots Teachery. "We go with plan B." decides Ewell.
"The float whisker?" asks Connaught. He graduated from Georgia Tech.
"Sure, why not? It killed USS Oklahoma. If it worked for the Japanese, it should work for us." Ewell says. "Never trusted German inspired engineering concepts anyway."
Both men move to the torpedo midbody to function test "Plan B", which is a float and wire reel assembly that operates on a hertz horn principle. Literally nothing can go wrong with this "Japanese" concept as it dates all the way back to the Howell torpedo and the Spanish American War!
While our two "heroes" deal with the initiator problems on the disassembled fish's front end, two other yahoos are holding an instant impromptu teacher/pupil session over a long silver and black tinfoil paper-wrapped assembly of what looks like vertically stacked cookies squished together and laid on its side. This is the nickel-cadmium battery that powers the Mark 20 Mod 5 torpedo and it is probably the reason why the Mark 9 initiator does not work, either. That one tonne battery is deader than the proverbial beaten horse and it is simultaneously too hot to touch without gloves.
LTCDR Nathan Southender (RAN) recently trained XJEM 213 mini-submarine driver and certified expert on "The Target" and the pupil in this exercise concludes; "There is a serious danger of fire with this cookie, Mister Cushman. I know how nickel-cadmium batteries work. The Mary Beth Ricardi works off of them. We need to send it out a tube, immediately!"
"Named your mini-boat after the Melbourne fan-dancer, did we, sir?" LT(s.g.) Howard Cushman (weapons officer) responds with a snark. "If she is hot like this battery... and I personally know she is... all she needs to cool down is some refrigeration. So we'll stick the cookie into the refrigerator and we'll trickle current her until we find the ground short, fix that wafer, and then she'll be a good girl, thereafter."
And that is what Cushman, Southender and the two torpedomen; Conaught and Ewell, do. Torpedo # 13412 from the Westinghouse production run, July batch number 2, afternoon shift... has a date with HIJMS Mutsu.
Meanwhile... LT (j.g.) Pulliver, soon to be called ENSIGN Pulliver? You can still call him Meyer, if you want...
Next up? What has Gunther Prien got, that Oscar Moosbreger hasn't?