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Part 151
PART 10: June 10, 1915  

June 11-17, 1915 - USS Montana (ACR-13)

The piece below was authored by Heiwa, though jim did edit it a leetle. Thus, he gets any credit, and I accept all blame. If Heiwa is lurking (the last I heard, he was board ship off Japan), thanx again!

---- June 11, 1:30 PM, New York Harbor, Captain's Gig

Captain Marvin Peace, stared astern at the slowly dwindling bulk of USS New York (BB-34). His gig bounced in the anonymous wake of any of dozens of ships moving about in the heavily trafficked harbor, at times dipping so deeply into a trough that the ACR-13 emblazoned on her trim prow was lost from view. The New York was certainly a majestic sight, fully justifying a cruiser captain's gaze. The great dreadnought nearly doubled the displacement of his armored cruiser and, with those five turrets, probably possessed ten times her firepower. None of that was on his mind, though. He had seen New York hundreds of times while in the yard these last months and his gig always bounced like a cork in this Harbor. The meeting they had just left, however, was an entirely different matter. "Well, Alex," he asked his XO, "what do you make of it?"

Commander Alexander Campbell almost shrugged as he turned to face his captain. "I don't know, Skipper," he answered after a moment. "The German liners are definitely working up. And after all this time." He gestured vaguely towards the tall hull of Kaiser Wilhelm II, from which several threads of steam now wafted, then almost overbalanced as the tiny craft bounced in a new wake.

"The report from Bermuda is just as clear," the XO added, after recovering his balance. "The British sure seem to think something's up. They're scrambling like mad."

"Well our esteemed cousins across the ocean seemed to have really dropped the ball, if even half of the reports we have been hearing are true. The Germans may feel they have a chance to actually make it through the blockade." The Captain said while looking towards where the large liner was moored.

"You don't think so?" Alex replied

"No, I guess I don't. While the British have apparently suffered heavy losses in battleships, they still have an ungodly amount of cruisers and AMCs left. Heck, all the company we are likely to see once we get underway tomorrow is proof of that. Cruisers make up the backbone of the blockade not battleships. Battleships may win battles but cruisers will win or lose this war in Europe. Cruiser can control the flow of commerce. Britain, and to a lesser extent Germany need trade to survive. Cruisers are blockaders, the commerce raiders, and the commerce protectors. As long as the Royal Navy has enough cruisers to patrol the sea with, the Germans are not getting through that blockade. I just wish we had more cruisers to patrol with." Shaking his head the Captain added, "Oh well we must make due with what Congress has seen fit to give us."

"You think there will be problems?" The commander asked, taking a seat besides his Captain to get out of the harbor spray from the gig's bouncing.

"No, not really," Peace replied, reaching into his pocket. "Neither of them can afford to isolate us right now. All we're going to be doing is watching, making sure the British wait till the German ships are clear of our waters before they do anything. That is, if the Germans try to make a run for it - which I don't think they're going to do."

"I could be wrong, though," he continued, as he began to pack his pipe. "But, with the facts as they are, no, it just wouldn't make any sense."

Peace paused as he struck a match and cupped it above the pipe bowl, ignoring the gig's motions and the spray. "I agree with the Admiral on one point though," he said, stem in mouth. "Certain members of the Press and Congress would have a field day if something did happen in our waters. The Pro and Anti-British and German lobbies have been rather vocal lately, more so in the Press then Congress. All it would take is a single incident. It'd set off a forest fire, and the president doesn't want that. No, sir! Not one bit. So, our job's to keep it quiet on our side of the pond."

Glancing again at the moored Kaiser Wilhelm II, now coming into fuller view, he continued. "Hell, XO. That damn war over there doesn't concern us. We've got nothing at stake and nothing to gain. Let the Europeans fight it out. After all, they've been at it hundreds of times before. And they'll still be at it hundreds of years from now."

Peace blew a stream of smoke into the freshening wind. "I'll tell you one thing, though. I still feel like we're missing something, like there's a puzzle piece on the floor, or something. In any case," he sighed, "be prepared, I always say. I want a department heads meeting as soon as we get back aboard."

At least this could be a bit more interesting then another training trip down to Norfolk to try out new torpedoes, Peace thought as they began to approach his command.

---- June 12, 6:40 PM, bridge of Montana, 20 miles South-East of Fire Island

Captain Peace looked out through his binoculars at a fishing trawler heading for home in the calm waters off New York. "Nice day to be at sea, wouldn't you agree Cdr?" Peace asked as he turned to his XO who had walked up to him on the bridge.

"Yes, sir. It is always good to get away from the pier and try out the Montana's sea legs."

"How's the crew taking the change of orders?"

"Most of the men are excited - they think we may see some action. Depending on which scuttlebutt you hear it is the British or the Germans we are going to have to explain things to". Pausing, the XO continued. "Some in the wardroom were a bit disappointed, at first, with our change of orders. It appears they'd finally badgered that naval station bunch into meeting them on the diamond. They were looking forward to taking their money, I suspect. And," Campbell continued, "Mr. Grinwould is again upset with another delay in the test with his torpedoes that BUORD sent him here to try.

"Tell the wardroom, ‘welcome to the New Navy,' XO," Peace said with a grin. "Besides, leaving the station team hanging may let them up the stakes when we get back. I presume no one's informed the marks what Green and Thompson lettered in at the Academy? Or that Smith played semi-pro?"

"Um," said the XO with a smile, "I don't think that ever came up."

"And as for the good LCDR, I think we can find something to keep him properly employed till this is over. Besides his torpedoes have yet to work, and from what I have seen of the latest changes to the design, I doubt they will work now. So a little delay in his test won't hurt him. I know, have him work with Guns. We might as well get some work out of him while we have him."

"Captain," came a call from the far side of the bridge. It was Ensign Greg Morton, Montana's Comm Officer, in full stride.

"Just copied a message from Aylwin."

The XO frowned slightly at the young officer's demeanor.

"Well," said Peace, raising his eyebrows, "go on."

"Sir, Aylwin reports they are on an intercept course with two unidentified contacts. They're reporting possible naval gun fire, sir."

"Quartermaster! Aylwin's last reported position?" Peace called as he strode over to the chart table.

"Sir, last report had her 10 miles South-East of Absecon Light."

"Officer of the Deck, come to 190. Make turns for 15 knots."

"Aye, aye, sir. Helm, right 5 degrees rudder. Come to course 190. Ahead Standard, 15 knots."

"XO, this could be nothing, but inform the Engineer. We might be about to stretch our lady's legs a bit more than I'd planned."

"Aye, aye, sir."

"Oh," added Peace after a moment. "Good job, Ensign. Get your ear back on the ether."

Morton's youth betrayed him as he blushed.

"Aye, aye, sir."

---- June 12, 7:25 PM, bridge of Montana, course 190, speed 15 knots

"Sir, more from Aylwin," reported LT Green to the captain, who was standing out on the starboard bridge wing.

"Well what is it?" Captain Peace said, taking his pipe out of his mouth.

" ‘1900, intercepted a German Liner and Cruiser.' Sir, Quartermaster says their position's about 10 miles off New Jersey, somewhere between the Absecon and Barneget Lights. ‘Canadian cruiser Niobe engaged Germans, but broke off. Liner damaged but underway.' "

"Damn, well so much for CinCLant's wishes to keep the Press and Congress out. This is going to get ugly before it gets better. LT Green set course for Barneget Light, full speed."

"Aye, aye, sir" he said, as he turned and went back into the bridge.

"Well, this is not what I expected when we got under way this morning. What is a German cruiser doing way over here?"

"Raider?" CDR Alexander Campbell asked from his position next to the Captain.

"Possibly, XO, nobody knew of a German light cruiser lose in the Atlantic, but by running into American waters she lost the element of surprise and any other advantages she had. It will be almost impossible for her to get out again without a fight. The British will now park a couple of cruisers off the coast and wait for her time to run out under The Hague. Either we will end up interning her, or she will try to make a run for it right into the waiting arms of the Royal Navy. We could have a situation like France during our civil war, with the Alabama and Kearsarge."

"Well, Skipper, I agree with you on that. No matter what The Hague and the Law say there is no way for us to prevent the British ships off the Coast from being informed that she is getting under way. Right now though I am more worried about Aylwin. She is alone out there with a German blockade-runner and cruiser. And with a bunch of very hungry British cruisers most likely converging on her position like wolves. The British may try to take them while they are in our waters."

After watching the ocean for a minute, Peace nodded his head. "Unfortunately I must agree. The English have a history of taking ships in neutral waters when they felt it necessary. If it were just a runner, the British probably would let her go and wait for her to try to leave, but that cruiser changes everything. They may actually be welling to ruffle a few feathers to get that cruiser. Who is closest, XO?"

"Winslow, Parker, and the Cost Guard Cutter Onoddaga out of Baltimore."

"Not good and we're still about four hours away. A lot can happen in four hours. Let's hope nobody decides to be a hero down there. Those Destroyers could find themselves in a lot of trouble. I really wish we had more cruisers. XO, tell the Engineer that I except to maintain 20 knots until we get to Barneget."

"Messenger of the watch," called Peace, as he turned and strode back onto the bridge.

"Sir," responded the young seaman.

"Take this message to the wireless room. To Aylwin and CinC Lant: ‘Responding to arrival of German ships, estimate arrival Barneget Light four hours.' Get confirmation of receipt from New York and Aylwin."

"Aye, aye, sir," the seaman replied, as he turned and headed off the bridge.

---- June 12, 9:25 PM, bridge of Montana

"Captain, the latest traffic," LT Green said, walking over from the messenger who had just arrived on the Bridge.

"What does it say, Lieutenant?"

"Basically, sir, Aylwin and Parker are with the German cruiser off Barneget. The cutter Onoddaga will be arriving shortly to take a look at the Imperator," the young LT said, while looking at the papers he had in hand.

"Aylwin apparently held the Germans at Barneget and notified CinC Lant."

The LT paused as he flipped through the papers

"It seems the Coasties will escort the liner into New York first thing in the morning, while the Aylwin will stay with the cruiser till someone makes up their mind on what's going to happen to it. We, meanwhile, are to rendezvous with Winslow and Parker and keep an eye on what the Royal Navy is up to. And, according to Aylwin's latest report, there are two AMCs and the cruiser Niobe hovering between five and ten miles off. Sure is getting crowded out there, sir."

"Yes, Lieutenant. It is likely to get more crowded yet. I imagine every British warship on the East Cost is trying to get here. Well, we'll be in the middle of it in less than two hours. Is there anything else LT?"

"No, sir. That's all."

"Very well, Lieutenant," Peace said, while shaking his head.

Peace turned as he saw his XO enter the bridge with a smile on his face.

"XO, something I should know?"

"I just came from the wardroom, CDR Grinwould didn't take having to work with CDR Shoemaker well. When I left, he was arguing the various merits of torpedoes over guns."

"I think Mr. Grinwould likes his underwater contraptions too much, XO."

CDR Campbell looked down at the papers in the Captain's hands.

"The latest intercepts."

Captain Peace handed the papers to his XO, who quickly reviewed them.

"Well, sir. I think Aylwin was right to hold the Germans at Barneget. It gives CinC Lant, and State time to figure out what to do."

Turning towards the port bridge wing and pulling out his pipe Peace responded.

"I agree on that, though we will not be able to hold the liner there long. Apparently the Cost Guard has already cleared it to enter. They will escort her in the morning, that just leaves the cruiser for us to handle."

CDR Campbell followed out on to the bridge wing.

"So any ideas yet, sir."

"XO, I don't know what to think yet. Nothing about this situation makes sense."


"Well, Commander, if the cruiser was a raider by running into American waters as I already said, she has trapped herself. Now, as to escorting the Imperator, that makes no sense either. I can think of very little that you could ship on that liner that would be worth the loss of the cruiser. If the Imperator is armed it could out shoot most of the faster British ships she could possible bump into. It would be just very bad luck to run in to one of the few ships that could catch her and that actually out gun her and, if she did, I doubt that cruiser would do her much good. The last possibility that comes to mind is that she is to escort the Imperator, and the other Liners that have been working up in an attempt to break out. But that is insane too. By the time she is ready to get under way again, half the Royal Navy's cruisers will be waiting for her outside New York; it would be a slaughter."

"Well, Skipper, the Germans must feel they can get her back out or that her loss is worth what ever is on that ship."

"Maybe, Commander, but I don't see....."

Peace stopped in mid sentence, his pipe frozen halfway to his mouth.


"XO, what if Strassburg's not the only German out here? What if there're more? Maybe with a prearranged rendezvous time to show up to escort Strassburg and the liners back?"

"Are you crazy, Skipper? What do the Germans have that can do that?"

"Von Spee! What if they've pulled another von Spee?! Roon and Yorck, for example, two of Germany's last ACRs. If they're out here, with some light cruisers, it could be another Coronel, and the liners end up with a free run."

Shaking his head, the Captain turned and walked towards the exit of the bridge.

"XO, I want to step up our drill tempo, starting with a GQ right after breakfast, and another after lunch. I think things are about to heat up out here. Officer of the Deck, I'll be in my sea cabin."

"Aye, aye, sir," both officers replied, almost in unison.

---- 12 June, 9:25 PM, bridge of Montana, approaching Barneget

"Well there she is," the XO said, binoculars fixed on the German cruiser. His tone of voice suggested that he still found it hard to believe.

"She's definitely in US waters now. The plot has her one mile off the coast.

""Signals, to Aylwin: ‘remain on station.' To Parker and Winslow: ‘form on Montana.' "

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the chief signalman.

"So, XO. What do you make of her?"

"I don't know. That silhouette's not in our books. She looks like new construction, but she's calling herself ‘Strassburg.' If that's Strassburg, she's been heavily modified. Either way she's a long way from home, sir."

LT Thompson, the current OOD, turned to Captain Peace and said, "Sir, Parker and Winslow have acknowledged."

"Very well. To Strassburg: ‘Interrogative intentions.' "

"Lieutenant," Peace continued, while sweeping his binoculars to the East, "I intend to take us out and see what the Royal Navy has sent us for company, as soon we get matters settled here."

"Captain, from Strassburg: ‘Repairs in progress. Estimated time of repair 0900. Will hold position until then.' "

"Reasonable, plausible, in fact," commented Campbell. "But I have my doubts on their so-called ‘repairs.' "

"Yes," said Peace. To Strassburg: ‘Concur. Aylwin will remain on station. Signal prior to getting underway.' "

"Officer of the Deck, come to course 050. Ahead Standard, but bring us up slowly."

---- June 12, 11:45 PM, approximately 10 miles off Barneget

"There she is, Captain," CDR Campbell called as he lowered his binoculars. "Bearing 335. She's Niobe, sir."

"Sir, lookouts report another ship 1000 yards aft of Niobe. Not a warship."

"Yes, I see her now. Probably an AMC."

"Sir, trailing ship tentatively identified as Val's Tract."

"AMC, all right," Peace said, turning towards his XO, "That makes one cruiser and three AMCs now?"

"Yes, sir. Remember what you said about all those British cruisers? Well, here they are."

"Unfortunately, I suspect we'll see more of them before this is over. Ahead Slow, Signals, to Niobe: ‘Interrogative Intentions.' "

"Sir, from Niobe, ‘Request permission to come aboard Montana.' "

"Well, well," said Peace. "To Niobe: ‘Affirmative.' Officer of the Deck, All Stop."

"XO, standby to receive visitors."

"Aye, aye, sir." Campbell strode off in haste, with thoughts of side boys running around inside his head.

---- June 13, 11:00 AM, bridge of Montana, off of Barneget

"Secure from General Quarters, set the normal underway watch. On deck section two," called the bosun of the watch.

"Well, XO, that went rather well," said the Captain, as he pulled his pipe out and headed towards the bridge wing. "I want to go over the results of the drill with all the department heads after Dinner, before the next drill, particularly damage control."

"Aye, aye, sir," said Campbell as he turned to follow the Captain off the Bridge.

Before either officer could make it to the exit, a messenger came onto the bridge.

"Sir, signal from Aylwin. They report that a large number of civilian craft have come out to see the German ship."

"What!?" Exclaimed the Captain turning around towards the Messenger. "Repeat your last."

"Sir, Aylwin reports a large number of civilian boats have come out to look at the German ship. Some are even trying to approach them."

"Very well," Peace said to the messenger.

"Damn, this gets better and better," Peace commented, once the messenger left.

"What do you want to do, Skipper?"

Lighting his pipe, Peace considered.

"Send Parker to help Aylwin with the German and the small boats. Also try to have them keep track of what boats actually talk to or pass items to the Germans. I am sure somebody will want to know. Also inform Winslow I don't know if they will come this far out to see the British but, if they do, we will try to do the same thing. I wonder what else can go wrong."

---- June 14, Noon, bridge of Montana, off Barneget

"OOD, from lookouts, Strassburg underway with Aylwin following close astern. Parker appears still trying to keep all the civilian boats out of the way."

"Good, Lieutenant, have the lookout keep an eye on the British ships. They should start to move soon. When they do, I want to be informed immediately."

"It almost looks like a sailing regatta out here," Campbell remarked as he walked over to the Captain. "You'd be hard pressed to imagine there is a war on."

"There are too many civilian craft out there for my liking," agreed Peace. "And these newest orders, I want to know who dreamed those up, they're impossible. With all these small boats running around out there, how am I supposed to stop them from passing info to the British or Germans? I have small craft carrying reporters trying to get interviews from both sides. I have people coming out to greet and give gifts to both sides and show their support. And then I have just the curious sightseers out there. This is a mess."

"Well, sir. Aylwin and Parker are doing their best around the German cruiser. Our problem is the British are so spread out that Winslow and us can't cover them all."

"I know, Commander, I just wish we had more ships out here. It probably will get better when we get to New York. Then we will only have to watch the British. With us and three Destroyers, that shouldn't be too big of a problem."

Turning towards port bridge wing to watch the British Ships, he added, "Speaking of which, I plan to request for Parker and Alywin to top off their bunkers and resupply before they rejoin us out here. As soon as they are finished, I'll send Winslow in to do the same. That will give our destroyers a little bit more endurance out here. There's no telling how long this'll drag on."

---- June 14, 6:00 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York Harbor

"Sir," said the OOD walking up to the Captain, "this just in on the wireless. CINCLANT agrees with your plan."

Captain Peace took the paper from the young officer, quickly reviewing it.

"Good. Signals, ensure Parker received a copy of that message."

"Well," he said, turning to CDR Campbell, "soon it will be out of our hands. All we'll have to do is baby-sit the British out here. Though, I admit, I'd give a lot to be a fly on a couple of walls for the next couple of days."

Snickering lightly, the XO replied, "Well, I imagine there're several heated conversations going on since this started and I imagine it's only going to get worse. But I agree with you on that it would be fun to eavesdrop on some of those conversations right now."

OK, OOD. We're approaching the entrance to Lower New York Bay. I want to take station at the three-mile limit off the entrance. Signals, to Winslow: ‘assume station to port.' OOD, it is my intention for them to cover the southern part of the entrance. We will cover the northern part of the entrance."

"Aye, aye, sir," called the Signalman.

"Now," said Peace, turning towards the XO, "all we have to do is wait and watch until somebody makes a decision. I just hope we don't have to wait for long."

---- June 15, 2:45 PM, Captain's seacabin, Montana, off of New York Harbor

"Enter," called Peace, to the knocking on his cabin door.

"Captain, got a message here you might want to see," replied his XO.

"Well, Alex, what is it."

"Sir, Parker is on her way out, but Aylwin is being held back. They're apparently doing ship visits and various other things with the German ship."

"Not that surprising, Alex. Aylwin has been with the Germans since they were first intercepted off the coast. They're probably more comfortable with her and her Captain. The good news I see there is that somebody back there is thinking. This gives us a chance to look at that ship. Maybe it will get Daniel's and Congress to authorize more cruisers. Anyway, have Parker assume Winslow's station, and release Winslow to re-coal and re-supply. When she's finished, she's to take the northern end of the entrance; we will take the middle, with Parker taking the south."

Leaning back in his chair, Peace looked at Campbell.

"Anything else?"

"Well, there's been no change by the British. They're still casually sitting about six miles out. The regatta is back, larger then yesterday."

"A lot of people are coming to see the battle from all around. So, I expect the size of our little fleet will keep increasing till this is over. I messaged Admiral Stennis about it, but he's given no indication on what he wants done. I have no authority to chase them off, so all we can do is watch and be prepared to get them out of trouble when the shooting starts. This is ridiculous. If we had a stronger navy this would not be happening. We look like fools sitting here."

"Skipper, what would you like to do."

"Alex, I don't like the idea of a foreign power being able to control commerce off our coast. I couldn't care less what the Germans or British are doing right now to each other. The more mutual mayhem they do, the better; I don't trust either side. By The Hague, we have to allow the German in to coal and resupply for at least 24 hours. But, if I had my way, we would keep the British ships further from our coast. Say about 100 miles or so out. They have no business here. Imagine the uproar if we were to try this off the English coast, at the mouth of the Thames, for example, not that we have the ships, and that's the crux of the problem. We will always be at the mercy of the Europeans unless we build up our navy."

"Well then, maybe something good will come out of this sir. Somebody may realize we need a larger navy."

"We can only hope, Alex. We can only hope."

---- June 17,1:20 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York

"Sir," the JOOD called out. "Lookouts report a new British cruiser has joined formation with the others. Appears to be a Town Class light cruiser. Possibly Sydney, out of Jamaica. She appears to be flying an Admiral's Pennant."

"Most likely Vice-Admiral Patey come to take charge of this operation, personally. I really do not like the thought of so many foreign warships parked off of an American port; it sets a bad precedent. I think it's time to remind the British where they are. Signals, signal Parker and Winslow to maintain station. OOD lay in a course to our newest guest. We're going out to meet them. I intend to pass within 500 yards of the Sydney. Signals, while you are at it, lay out proper greeting flags. This is, after all, just a friendly reminder." Captain Peace chuckled to himself.

"Captain," called ENS Morton, as he walked on to the bridge. "We just received this."

"About time," said Peace, looking over the message. "Looks like Admiral Patey made it just in time. The Strassburg is being informed she must sail between 6:09 AM on the 18th and 6:09 AM on the 19th of June."

"Well, XO, it looks like tomorrow will be the last day of this. We're also getting some help. New York and Wyoming are coming out, with the rest of the 6th Destroyer Squadron, under the command of Admiral Alton. XO, I want to have most of the crew stand down this afternoon after we return to station, especially the black gang. They'll probably get a good work-out tomorrow, so I want them resting up while they can."

"Tomorrow night then?"

"Most likely, Commander, unless they're trying for a Coronel. Well, any way you put it, we'll get a better idea of what is going on when the Germans set sail. Till then, we have a new guest to greet."

---- June 17, 6:20 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York

"Captain" called the OOD. "New traffic from CINCLANT."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," the Captain replied, as he took the messages. After quickly reviewing the messages, he turned to his XO. "New York and Wyoming have exited the outer harbor. We are to rendezvous with them tomorrow just after dawn."

"That's a lot of fire power out here for the Germans' coming out party," replied the XO.

"Yes, we should be able to handle just about anything that the Germans or British try. Still, I feel uneasy about this."

"What do you mean, Skipper?"

"There are now, what, 6 AMC's and three cruisers out there, with reports of a lest one or two more cruisers further out? Then, there may be a couple more AMCs and possibly another cruiser off of Boston, and another group of AMCs parked off of the Chesapeake and Philadelphia. We have two dreadnoughts, an armored cruiser, and a destroyer squadron here at New York. Off Boston the Brooklyn and a couple of destroyers, with our sister ship the North Carolina due back tomorrow. Then, there're destroyers covering the Chesapeake and Philadelphia. That's an awful lot of ships out here. The Germans have to know what the British and we have out here, as the British must know also. The only ship that might be a surprise is the North Carolina. There're too many chances for a mistake to happen. Then, poof, everything will go up in flames."

The Captain pulled out his pipe and started to pack it as he turned towards the bridge wing.

"It makes no sense for those liners to make a run for it, but I feel it in my bones that they really are coming out tomorrow."

"What do you think well happen, Skipper?" Campbell asked, as he turned to follow.

"It depends on what the Germans do tomorrow when they come out. The way I see it is the Liners will do one of two things. They will all take off at the same time and try to make a break for it, or the ships in Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia will leave early, stay in our waters till they get here and rendezvous with the rest of the German ships here before heading out. Either way, we won't know for sure till they make their move."

"If the Germans are trying to pull a Graf Spee again, the rendezvous makes the most sense."

"True, Commander, but even then, that would be a lot of British ships for two German ACRs and however many more CLs the Germans managed to scrounge free. The British ships, as well as our own on those stations, would follow those ships here, just increasing the number of ships they would have to fight or escape from. And any German ship that is damaged is a long way from home or a friendly port. Any damage they take would be a death sentence," Peace added, as he lit his pipe. "Actually, if the Germans are trying for a Graf Spee, I believe only the ships here in New York would make a run for it. But with the reports we have of the other liners loading and topping off their bunkers, it sure looks like they're all coming out. Besides, I don't think CINCLANT took my suggestion that there might be a pair of German ACRs out here planning to rendezvous with the ships here very seriously. Maybe they know something I don't know about the current whereabouts of Roon and Yorck. After all, that's their job."

"Looks like tomorrow is going to be mess, Skipper."

"Yes, Commander, I believe you're right. The GQ drills have gone rather well, so we should be rather prepared in that department if we have to be, but I want you to get together with deck and medical tonight. I want to be able to put boats in the water in a hurry, if we have to. We probably will be fishing a lot of people out of the sea tomorrow, and I want medical ready to receive casualties. I have a very forbidding feeling about tomorrow," Peace said as he looked off to the East.

"Aye, aye, Skipper."

---- June 17, 8:15 PM, bridge of Montana, off of New York

"Captain on the Bridge," called the Boatswain of the watch, as Captain Peace strode onto the bridge.

"Report, Lieutenant," called Peace.

"Wilson reports Sydney is leaving station and heading Northwest at 20 knots, Captain."

"Any change with the rest of the British ships?"

"No, sir. All the other ships are still maintaining station."

"Very well. Signal Winslow to maintain station. Move us over onto a converging course. I want to see where they're going."

"Message from Admiral Alton, Captain," called the XO, as he strolled on to the bridge.

Reviewing the message, Peace called out: "Belay my last, we will maintain station. It appears they're on their way to meet Admiral Alton."

Walking over to the chart table, Peace said, "XO, OOD, Navigator, Admiral Alton's orders are for us to rendezvous with him at dawn. There, he added, pointing to a spot on the map. "So, we shall withdraw from our current patrol position at 0445. Once we join the Admiral's force, the destroyers will rejoin the rest of their squadron. OOD, make sure Parker and Winslow are informed."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Turning towards his XO, "Well, Commander, are Deck and Medical ready?"

"Yes, sir. LT Green said he will have the boats cleared and ready for action, and Doc is getting Sickbay ready."

"Good, but make sure Mr. Green's preparations don't get in the way of the gun crews. I don't expect to need them tomorrow, but I don't want to be caught unprepared."

"Aye, aye, sir. What do you think the Admiral will do with our sailing regatta?" Campbell asked.

"He'll probably assign one or two of the Destroyers to watch over them. I just hope that, when the shooting starts, the civilians have enough sense to get out of the way. A stray shell does not care who it hits, and that is all we need to have happen - a civilian boat to get hit by a stray round from the British or Germans. Tomorrow is going to be so much fun. I think Admiral Alton is going to be very busy, as shall we."

by Marvin Peace/Heiwa

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