I walked up the gangplank and saluted aft, first rendering honors to the national colors and then to the officer of the watch at the entrance to my new ship.
“Permission to come aboard, sir!”
I stepped onto the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Casey Donovan (CG69), one of the Navy’s newest Ticonderoga Class Guided Missile Cruisers. “Seaman Alex Bender. Reporting for duty, sir.”
The ensign on deck duty took my orders, quickly looked them over to make sure they were legitimate, and told the bosun’s mate to take me to the captain to report in. I was in awe of my first shipboard assignment, being straight out of basic training from Great Lakes, Illinois.
I was eighteen with short blond hair and blue eyes, a twenty-nine-inch waist, a solid six feet tall, 170 pounds, and in top physical condition thanks to basic training. I had to bend over slightly as I went through the hatches that led into the passageways of the ship. We went down a ladder, and up another one. Finally, we arrived at a cabin and the bosun’s mate knocked loudly on the door.
“Make sure you salute when we go in,” he said as he opened the door for us and we went inside. “Sir, Bosun’s Mate Hanson with a new recruit reporting in, Captain.”
The captain looked me over and returned our salute. “Dismissed, Bosun.”
“Aye aye, sir.” He turned and left the cabin.
“Those your orders, Seaman?”
“Yes, sir,” I responded while handing him the orders.
“Stand at ease.”
I spread my legs slightly apart and clasped my hands behind my back in the classic “at ease” position. The captain quickly read over my file and made a verbal note that I was a quartermaster striker.
“Well, your grades from Great Lakes are good and you’ve got a good recommendation from your chief in basic training. I hope you will do equally well here on board the Donovan. Anything I should know before you continue your check-in of the ship?”
“No sir, nothing I can think of at the moment.”
“Very well. We set sail first thing in the morning, so get yourself orientated well around ship before we weigh anchor. If you’re told to be somewhere, you better know how to get there.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll spend the rest of the day doing precisely that.”
“Very well. Carry on, Seaman.”
I came to attention, saluted, and executed an about-face and exited the captain’s cabin. I found another seaman waiting for me to come out. “Follow me and I’ll take you to your bunk,” said the young sailor who looked great in his naval whites. We would change tomorrow into blues, which were basically jeans and blue shirts.
After going down a couple of decks, we entered the crew quarters and I was shown to an empty bunk. “Okay, this will be your rack. You’re responsible for keeping it neat, clean, and made when you’re not in it. Your mother isn’t here to do your wash, so that means you’ll have to do your own washing, which includes your sheets and pillowcases. As you can see, the bunks are close together here, and smell travels easily. The last thing you want to do is piss of your rack mates because they can’t stand your stink.”
“Ah, of course not. Where is the laundry?”
“Here’s a small map that will help you get around the ship for the first couple of days. This isn’t an aircraft carrier so you should be able to easily learn where everything is in no more than two days. You’re not a fireman, so you will have no need to go below to the boiler rooms and such, so you just have to learn the upper decks. You’ll be shown your battle station tomorrow. Chow is at 1730 hours and ends at 1830 hours. Be there and on time or you’ll miss out on eating. If you’re assigned to the midnight shift, there will be food available for you during the night. If you have to sleep in the daytime, you pull these curtains closed to help you to sleep. Most of the guys close them anyway for privacy reasons. After dinner tonight, find Chief Bryson and report to him that you’re aboard. He’s the chief quartermaster on this ship. And remember, you’re on a ship, not a boat!”
“By the way, I’m Alex Bender,” I said putting out my hand to shake my guide’s hand.
“Bender? As in bend over? Oh, the guys are gonna have fun with you,” he said as he turned away laughing. I watched his little butt move slightly from side to side as he walked away and thought to myself, what the fuck have I gotten myself into?
I stowed away my gear and began to walk about the ship with the aid of the map. I located the launch tubes for the cruise missiles, the gun mount both fore and aft, and the two phalanx Mark 2 close-in weapons systems. I walked inside the helicopter landing and storage area on the top deck, and then walked to the fantail of the ship and looked out on the water. This was the area directly above the propulsion system of the ship, where many of the men stood and smoked when smoking was permitted. At night, this was a very dark area of the ship and one had to be careful walking around. If you fell overboard from this spot, you would more than likely get sucked under and chewed up by the props.
The ship was 567 feet long and 55 feet across at its widest part. The decks below housed all of the living quarters, offices, mess hall, hospital, and movie rooms and showers that the crew needed. Below those decks were the engine rooms and all of the mechanical parts of the ship along with ammo and missiles for the various weapons systems.
I was joining a crew of 358 when fully staffed, with crew members ranking from lowly one-stripers like me, all the way up to the captain of the vessel. Everyone seemed to be lost in their own world as they moved all over the ship. I went below and began to search these decks and found everything that I needed. The ship really was well laid out and I knew that in one day, I would have it down. My duty station would be in either the quartermaster cabin, which was located behind the bridge, or on the bridge itself.
By the time dinner came around I was ready. I went through the chow line and found a place at an empty table. I figured the first night on board, I wouldn’t try to crowd anybody, but just stay to myself unless someone came over to me. I got a few nods from some of the guys but no one sat down at my table. As I looked around, I saw some incredibly hot-looking young men of various ranks, but none above second-class petty officer. Everyone looked very fit and healthy. They laughed and talked while they ate and it was obvious that this crew seemed to like one another. While looking around I tried to spot anyone that might be new like me. I was disappointed when I found no one who fit that description.
After putting up my tray and washing my hands, I set out to find the chief petty officer quartermaster. It didn’t take me long to find him in the quartermaster cabin, plotting the course for the departure in the morning.
“Excuse me, Chief? I’m new and reporting in to you for tomorrow’s assignment.”
“Ah, you must be Bender, right?”
“Yes, Chief, that’s me.”
“Great. Glad to meet you. I’m Chief Samuel Bryson. Have you got yourself all squared away and had dinner?”
“Yes, sir, I have.”
“Okay, I’m not a sir, I’m a chief,” he said with a smile.
“Of course, Chief. Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry; just break yourself of the basic training mind-set. You’re in the real Navy now, and we’re leaving port tomorrow for your first cruise. I’m sure you’re nervous, but just listen to those you work with and follow orders. If you don’t understand something, ask. Do not try and guess what to do. The captain does not like guesses; he likes crewmembers who know what they are doing. Understand?”
“Yes, Chief. I am nervous, by the way. Feel like a little kid afraid to be away from home for the first time,” I said with my eyes cast down toward the deck.
“Well, that will pass in the first week. You’ll see. Now, you need to be out of your rack, showered, and into the uniform of the day, which tomorrow will be sea blues, by 0645 hours. Breakfast begins at 0700, and you are due at your duty station by 0730 hours. You will report here, where I will take you to the bridge and show you your bridge duties. Essentially, you will be recording in the command log, every command given on the bridge. You will also record when the captain comes on the bridge and when he leaves the bridge. You will from time to time take a watch position up on one of the wings of the bridge. This will consist of you scanning the horizon looking for other ships or anything else in the water. You will be relieved for lunch at 1130 hours, and back on duty by 1215 hours. You will be off duty by 1630 hours. Your shift will rotate after the first week. You will then go to the second shift, and then to the third shift. Any questions?”
“Just one stupid one, I guess. When is the best time to shower? At night, or in the morning?”
“That’s not a stupid question, actually. It’s a good one. The showers are jammed in the early morning. If you can shower before turning in for the night, and you wake up sweat free, then that’s what you might consider doing. The crew quarters are air-conditioned so you should be able to sleep with no problem from the humidity. Therefore, you should not sweat much. As long as you don’t have body odor in the morning, then showering at night makes sense. Anything else?”
“No, Chief. That was it.”
“Okay, you’re free the rest of the night; we cast off at 0800 hours. See you in the morning.”
“Aye aye, Chief.”
I left the chief feeling a little better about my new “job.” I would get a shower in a couple of hours and then turn in. This was going to be different from basic training, as we were almost on top of one another and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in the morning when we all tried to get dressed at once.
As I walked around, I found the television room and sat down in there for a while. After a couple of hours, I got up and went to my bunk. As I passed the head, which was what the Navy called the men’s room, I heard the sound of running water. I was not going to be the only one trying to beat the morning rush. When I got back to my rack, I found some of the men already in their racks getting to sleep. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for showering, so I stripped down to my boxer shorts, put on sandals, grabbed my towel and soap, and headed for the showers.
When I went in there was one guy toweling off who was really handsome in a “twinkie” kind of way, and one guy in the shower itself. We had individual stalls for showering with very thin shower curtains covering the opening, and a bench running down in front of them. There were hooks on the walls between the stalls for our towels. I snuck a peek at the guy drying off and watched as he merely put a towel around his hot little body instead of climbing into shorts in the head. I peeled off my shorts and got into the shower.
The water was hot, but the stall was tiny. It was hard to turn around without your ass becoming glued to the shower curtain, giving everyone who cared to look a nice shot of your ass. I scrubbed off, rinsed and stepped out of the shower just as the other sailor was getting out. He was about three years older than me, with a tattoo on his left shoulder of an anchor, a tight body, nice cock, and large nuts. The curve of his ass had to go out before it could drop. He had the classic bubble butt that drove many men crazy. I couldn’t wait to see him in Navy whites.
He noticed me looking and said, “Hey, you new around here?”
“Yeah, sure am. Just got on board the ship today.”
“Well, then I’ll give ya a break and give you a piece of advice. Don’t stare at the other guys when we happen to be naked; either here or at the berthing compartment. ’Cause if you do stare, it either means you wanna suck the guy’s cock, take it up the ass, or you’re looking for a fight. You don’t look mean enough or big enough body-wise to be looking for a fight, so one would conclude you were looking for a stiff dick. Get me?”
“Oh, why, yes. I’m sorry; I was just looking at your tattoo, actually.”
“My tattoo is on my shoulder, not between my legs where you were looking. Is that what you like? Another man’s cock?”
He wasn’t smiling and he wasn’t covering his body up. I, on the other hand, was totally freaked out, sexed up at the raw language, and almost shaking as I bent over to put my shorts on. When I straightened up, I found him looking at my ass. I thought his cock looked bigger than when I had first looked at it. It was at least six inches now and pointing directly at the floor.
“I didn’t mean to piss you off or make you uncomfortable; I’m sorry.”
Before he could say another word, I was out of the head and moving swiftly through the passageway into the berthing compartment. Of course I had no idea who he was, what department he worked in, or even his rank. When you’re naked, everyone is of equal rank. I looked around at the other sleeping men and saw that almost everyone slept in their boxer shorts versus naked, so I hung my towel up on the hook provided to dry and swung myself into the bunk. I was quite unnerved by the encounter in the showers and hoped I didn’t already have a problem on my hands after only part of one day.
As I turned on my side, I found myself looking at the guy from the showers. He stopped and looked at me, smiled, walked down two bunks and got into his rack. His was located on the opposite side of the passageway, where he could easily look back and over at me. I turned toward the bulkhead and tried to relax. It took me almost an hour to get to sleep.