Meeting up with the O6 was like seeing an old friend again and of course Captain Bob Taylor and Scott were indeed great friends.
After radio greetings Scott thanked Bob for his invitation to go to the O6 for dinner the next day with Andrew.
They sailed a mile from the O6 enjoying the fact they would still be out of pirate waters for another two days.
By now the crew knew they would be four down when they got home and that's why they were all meeting in the saloon with Reggie, Freddy, Neil and Colin sailing the ship.
"First thing to ask of course, is anyone else thinking of leaving, Andrew?"
"Silly man, get serious." Andrew lent over and kissed Scott's left cheek, the one on his face that is. As he kissed Scott he went down memory lane and smiled to himself as thought of earlier that day as he laid on his left side while Scott entered him and blew up! Andrew held Scott's hand and got hard again! Scott already was, he was also thinking about "blowing up" an hour before!
"We only leave if you fire us and we know you won’t........, please!" Paulina.
"We will be staying until your ships are safe without the Jean having to escort them." Tommy was at least was being serious.
"I am staying until I can get you fuckers fit, so George has to stay as well, not that he wants to leave anyway." Jerry was being serious, in his own way.
Everyone looked at Marcel and Jon, the boys looked back at them, then looked at one another and smiled. Marcel spoke for both of them. "We have decided to leave Skip." Marcel and Jon waited for Scott's reaction.
"Ok, bye!" Marcel was in a panic! "We didn't mean it Skip!"
"Nor did I. RIGHT, as Andrew said, let’s get serious.
"Ok, I had to ask and thanks all of you. This may come as a bit of surprise, but I don't want to replace the guys. Now we are being rearmed we are back to what we were, armed and much more of a threat to pirates than they are to us or the ship we are escorting. We only have two on watch now and that will help no end, two on and eight off as I will take a regular watch with Andrew when there is just the ten of us. Andrew will become our Chief Engineer and the two boys are more than capable to support him. Paulina I know you are more than qualified to manage the sick bay because Reggie told me and he also told me he would be on 24 hour call if you ever need advice. The only gaps that will need to be filled is the winch operator and possibly a second chef and that's all down to you George." George puffed his chest out and smiled at them all in that condescending manner given by someone who suddenly finds themselves in a position of importance. He coughed and smiled again, which made it worse.
"Take it from me Skip and my fellow crew members, the Jean's compliment will continue to dine to the high standards you have come to enjoy and the winch will be no problem either. We will have time to practise transfers to the O6 and back as well as rescue practises before we get to pirate seas and by that time I will be as good, if not better than Colin. Relax people, you are in good hands." He smiled at everyone again.
"Finished?" Scott yawned.
"Yes Captain, please do carry on." Jerry put his head in his hands and promised himself a good time when he and George got back to their cabin. George was sure they would.
"Thank you Chef, that's it then, thanks everyone. I can’t wait for the weapons to arrive. I will ask for volunteers to fire the second machine gun and Paul will select the shooter after test firing."
Paul took the Jean to the O6 and Colin transferred Scott and Andrew with George looking on. After the transfer Colin began training George and volunteered Marcel and Jon to be rescued. Jan and Paulina took them out in the RIB two miles and dumped them over board. The exercise would go on for hours and all of them having a great time. The boys would be dry in their survival suits but very cold but as happy as punch as only these two could be and both knowing they would have a great time back in the cabin getting each shriveled up dick back to normal and beyond!
Meeting up with Bob again was a great time as well and for the next six hours they just relaxed enjoying the company and touring the O6 and Scott meeting old friends again. They took their meal with the crew which was fun made even better when Scott got a call from Paul.
"Skip we have just heard from HMS Edward and she is about a week from Mumbai and wants you to contact and arrange a time to meet up. When we are close she will send over our supplies by helicopter."
They were on the O6's bridge which like all ships was quiet with the crew going about their work. The navigator came to his captain and handed him a weather report. Bob and Scott read it together and knew that when they came out of Mumbai in a week’s time they could have a Cyclone to sail through if the report was correct. "Could be interesting Scott. Batten down the hatches time me thinks."
When they got back to the Jean, Scott and Paul read the same report and Scott informed the crew and told them they may be in for some very heavy seas on the next sailing. "At least it will keep the pirates away for a while." He did not have to tell them there would be a need for extra security in all departments, particularly in the Galley, Hanger and workshop.
As soon as the O6 was approaching Mumbai and in safe waters, Scott turned the Jean and headed towards the rendezvous point to meet HMS Edward 50 miles off the coast. The need for extra aviation fuel was now forgotten. The Royal Navy ship was spotted as soon as she came on radar and Scott had the Jean turned 180 degrees and slowed to 8 knots waiting for the Edward's helicopter to arrive and transfer the weapon and ammunition. But as soon as the helicopter was loaded it had to respond to an emergency call some 100 miles south of the Royal Navy ship, the Jean would not get the weapon after all. It was going to be a busy time for the international navy and for Scott and his ship as well.
The Jean laid off the coast at five miles waiting for the O6 to come back out of Mumbai and fell in behind her and so the escort began but already the sea was picking up which would stop any boarding practises and sea rescues. Instead the crew went about making doubly sure everything was secure and just waited for the full storm to turn up and for Scott to change course and head into the waves which was expected to reach between 10 and 15 feet. The O6 would follow and together they would ride it out. To make it safer all navigation and deck lights would be turned on. As the seas became heavier Scott took the Jean further away from the O6 and ordered all crew into survival suits including helmets and headsets, at least there would be no pirates to worry about.
In all walks of life, no matter what, the unexpected can turn up and the Jean was no exception on this particular occasion. The Cyclone was at its height, the most severe in years and the Jean and every other ship was being thrown about and no crew of any ship was able to stand up, everyone hung onto grab handles but at the same time go about their work keeping their particular ship safe, but the most vulnerable would be container ships.
The first distress call came on the radio and Scott had the Jean turned towards its last known position but already knew there would be little chance of being able to help. He could not sail at more than 5 knots in this sea and now he could not sail into the storm the Jean was being tossed about even more.
The ship calling the Mayday was 50 miles away from the Jean and when the second distress call came in he altered course knowing he had a better chance of getting to her as she was much closer, 10 miles. But the SS Harmony was in deep trouble, the chains securing the containers to the deck were at their limit and when his ship slammed into the next wave he knew they were lost as the Harmony was forced even further over to port at 35 degrees and just about every chain failed and hundreds of tons of containers and their contents began to fall overboard, followed by many more as their chains also failed. With the containers sliding off the port side the ship was held at the 35 degrees which soon became 40. The Harmony's captain ordered "abandon ship" but also knowing full well that nobody could get to the life boat and he knew that no one would survive, it was a Captains worst nightmare, "every man to themselves." The ship was doomed as were the whole crew. Of the 30 crew only 9 would be able to throw themselves over the starboard side and it would not include the captain.
Captain Moralise Mondez's last conversation would be with Scott.
"SS Harmony, this is Captain Scott Peterson of the MV Lady Jean Peterson, we will be with you in two hours captain. We are a search and rescue ship sir and are fully equipped to assist."
"Thank you Captain Peterson, this is Captain Moralise Mondez of the SS Harmony but I think you will be an hour too late sir......... I have read about you captain, your ship and your story. Keep up the good work, but please come to my location and I pray you can save SOME of my crew, I have ordered them to abandon ship, we are going down............goodbye and God bless you." The speakers went quite. Nobody said a word, there was nothing to say anyway, they all knew there would be no survivors.
Scott took the helm and when the stern was at its deepest he would open both throttles in an attempt to keep the Jean at 5 knots. He knew all the crew could do as he was doing, but he needed to be focused and try to get to the last known location of the Harmony, it took his mind off the reality of men already dead or dying. The sea would always be master and she had not finished yet as the waves became even bigger and Scott had no choice but to turn into them or risk being turned over.
Down in the engine room Neil and Andrew had literally tied themselves to grab handles while keeping watch on the monitors and the only good thing was the engines and other essential equipment were still in good shape. They looked at one another as Scott spoke and again held on for dear life.
"THIS IS THE BIG ONE, HIT THE DECK AND HOLD ON!" In fact no one hit the deck as they were all transfixed looking out at this MASSIVE wave as it came at them. It reached the Jean and lifted her almost 40 feet up as though she was a bit of drift wood. Up and up she went and everyone wondering what was on the other side of this monster.
It was as if in slow motion as she was taken up this wall of sea and when they reached the summit for just a few seconds all they could see was cloud, they were almost vertical.
At long last they were taken over the top and once again the whole crew on the bridge stared down in horror of what they saw and hoped and prayed that the Lady Jean Peterson was strong enough to take what was about to come their way.
"DOWN, DOWN, DOWN!" Scott screamed at them. "ENGINE ROOM, HOLD TIGHT!" They all took one last look and what they saw, a massive trough and realised the Jean could very well be the next ship to be lost. All they prayed for was the work that had been carried out to strengthen the whole ship would save them.
Not only was the trough so deep it was wide as well as the next wave was some distance away and they knew that the ship would literally nose dive into this canyon of water. They all hit the deck and held on for dear life and grabbed anything they could reach.
The Jean was taken over the top of this monster and at one time was completely out of the water as she dived at an angle that would take her under.
The noise was deafening as the bow hit the lowest point of the trough and within seconds the ship was engulfed and still going down, all the way to her midships and she only stopped her decent after the sea had gone over the helicopter hanger. Everyone clung on with eyes tightly closed and prayed. There was a tremendous noise coming from the top of the bridge as both communication pods, rotating scanners, searchlights, the camera pod and whip aerials were ripped off.
Slowly and very gradually she began to climb back up and at least the ship steadied for a short while as she came to the surface and they could all get up to look at the next wave coming at them.
"Engine room, Andrew, Neil are you ok?" The relief was tremendous when both replied they were.
Once again they stared at the next wave and could not believe that it was only a quarter of the size of the last one and you could almost hear the sighs of relief. The Jean rode this one easily and the many that followed, but they still had to hang on and just wait for this to blow itself out. An hour later it did and now they could check the ship for damage, there was quite a lot of it.
They looked at all the blank screens and knew straight away the Jean was now blind, no main radar, no Hawk radar, no navigational aids and no weather screen and possibly no radio communication either. Scott called the O6 many times, no reply. He and Paul went to the bridge top and looked at the destruction and realised why they were now without any contact outside their small ship. Even the firework tubes had gone and the roof was bent and twisted and would have to be replaced but fortunately there were no holes. Next they got to the hanger and also realised the helicopters would not be flying again. The roll up hangar door, the weakest part of the superstructure had been smashed in and the water had done maximum damage, it was a complete mess, but that was not all, the galley was like a war zone with every cupboard door ripped off their hinges and the contents all over the deck. Every cooking utensil, cutlery, spice containers and much more were scattered all over the place as well as every bit of crockery, smashed to bits. Colin, George and the two boys set too to clean the place up. "Anyone checked the freezer room?" George asked. Colin open the hatch and they all stood there and looked yet another disaster area. Every door off and the contents scattered on the deck. As with the galley, all food would have to be thrown overboard and all they would be eating for goodness how long would be canned foods which the crew would have to eat straight from the tins. At least there was a lot of it.
Scott had to get back to the bridge and find out where they were and attempt to get to the Harmony's last known position but he knew they had no chance of helping anyone from her.
They did find the location and search as they did for four hours all they saw was a now calm sea. Now Scott's next problem he had to deal with, where was the O6?
He remained on the bridge with Freddy and worked out a course that they hoped the O6 could be located. Meanwhile the rest of the crew went to all departments checking them and the good news was that no further damage was reported, just in need of a clean up.
It was now night time and Scott worked out the new watches that would be needed as they were blind and there would have to be four back on now with two up on the bridge top with night glasses.
Finally Scott and Andrew had an hour off together and got into the shower as soon as they arrived in the cabin. They did not say much, like the rest of the crew, thinking about all those that had perished and there was nothing they could do about it and offering thanks that they had survived. They got into the bunk and just held one another very close. All couples would be doing exactly the same when they got to their own cabins. The search for the O6 would go on for two more days and nights.
"Skip to the bridge please." Scott ran up and saw the watch looking through binoculars. "We have found the O6 Skip, I think you should look at her." Paul said. Scott took over the power binoculars and looked at her and the first thing he saw were a couple of men with AK 47's standing on the bridge wing.
The O6 had been taken.
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