MV Lady Jean Peterson
by BobbyG

 

Chapter 23

On the dot of 9am a knock on Williams study door told Scott the boys were on the other side of it.

“Come in.”

They did as asked and went to the front of the desk and stood there holding hands, both very nervious as they were expecting another roasting from their captain. But then Scott invited them to sit down which gave both of them some sort of hope. If they were in for the assumed roasting, they would not be invited to sit down surely?

“Skip, we just want to say sorry about not turning up in uniform like you told us too.” He smiled at the two of them.

“Not exactly a hanging offence is it! No, all I want to know is, after all I said, will you both still be sailing with me?” The relief was instant and both of them relaxed back to their normal lovely selves.

“Yes Skip, we will be with you until you chuck us out…….and we hope you never will.”

“I would never do that but it’s become a dangerous game now as bullets will fly as you already know when we were attacked last time. Think about it, Captain Cox was killed and I want to be sure you two understand the risks.”

“Skip, we have already talked about the risks, but we know we can fire back now and that must reduce those risks and with the new helicopters and bullets, the Lady Jean and the ship we are escorting will be even better protected. Jon and I want to stay for as long as you want us too. We love the Lady Jean and all the crew.” Marcel paused and smiled at his captain. “But we love you and Andrew the most, that will never change.”

Scott stood up followed by the boys and after a massive bout of cuddles, they left leaving behind a very happy captain.

Next to come in was Paul and Freddy, followed by Jan and Paulina, then Jerry and George all of whom told Scott they would be staying indefinitely and remain with the ship even after this sort of work stopped, if it ever did. Jan summed it up for all of them when she and Paulina met their captain.

“Skip, both Paulina and I want to stay with you and the Jean. We know our sailings will be different now as we can’t go into ports and stay at sea but whether we are at sea or in port, this ship will stay the same, even though it will change.”

Finally Reggie, Freddy, Neil and Colin came in together to give notice of leaving. Reggie was the spokesman.

“Although we will all be sad to leave, three of us have had offers that will see Freddy and I through to retirement. He is going to work for the Foreign office in their translating department, I am going to teach at St Georges in London.

Colin is going to open a new restaurant with a friend of his and Neil hopes to go back to work in the Southampton docks.

What we all agree Skip is that we will sail with you next time and help to escort the O6 and then wait for the next sailing to meet and sail to wherever she is going and once outside pirate waters we transfer to her and when we get into port we will all fly home. This is not in anyway to infer we are unhappy sailing with you, quite the opposite as you must surely know, but these offers have come up and it’s sensible to accept them.”

“Thanks for that and obviously I quite understand. You are all going to be sadly missed but it gives me time to fill your places and I will start the ball rolling as soon as Andrew and I get back from London. As for you Neil you can expect a welcome return to the dockyard. Can I leave it to you to tell the others about all this?”

“Of course and Skip, thank you, it’s been an amazing time and still is.” They left leaving Scott to ponder and just hoped he could find replacements as good as those who would soon leave, he grinned and spoke out loud. “Andrew Bushman, you have no  idea just now that you will become 1st engineer in a couple of months…….God help me!”

That afternoon the crew with Theo, Royston, Walter, David and Shawn took a coach to the docks. The coach had darkened windows as there was a permanent load of photographers outside the gates hoping for a front page photo. About the same number were outside the dock gates hoping for the same.

They toured the almost completed Lady Jean and the whole crew looking forward to getting back to sea. Just three weeks to go. It would have been shorter but they had to wait for the O6 to return and turned round with a new cargo loaded, but the whole process would only take three days and then once into the English Channel the O6 would go to full power and sail into the Atlantic when she would reduce her speed and firing practise would begin on both ships.

After off loading and loading in Cape Town the O6 would join up with the Jean and sail at 10 knots towards the Somalian pirates who would be ready to go to sea themselves two days after the O6 left port. All six skiffs with six men in each, armed with 36 AK47’s and 6 RPG’s. Quite a lot of fire power, but both the Jean and the O6 were now able to match it. BUT there was one thing on the British ships side that the pirates knew nothing about, 1 they would not know they were armed and 2 they would not know the Jean and O6 already knew they were going to be attacked and would be confident at taking the Lady Jean and then force the O6 to surrender to them. But as Paul had said so many times, “the element of surprise is one of the greatest assets you have against an unsuspecting enemy.”

They were all more than happy about the improvements and in particular the bridge as it was now much bigger and much more room for the various monitors as well as two racks that would accommodate the rifles and machine guns.

They all noted that the pilots stations were as close as before, Scott sensibly  thought that a good idea as the boys could have asked awkward questions as to why they were seperated.

Theo and Royston had a wonderful time going down memory lane as they toured the whole ship and taking longer in the medical centre and then the engine room and workshop, then on to the bridge were they had shared many watches . They went down one deck and stood outside their old cabin thinking about how it had been instrumental in them getting back together in that they had shagged like rabbits every time they had free time and were even more in love after each time they were “engaged!”. Royston cuddled into his man then looked at him. “We want to come back, don’t we.” Not a question, a statement.

“We became a full part in this family and your right, I want to come back as well. Lets go and find Skip. Roy, I really think we may have a good chance as the guys are leaving and we know Skip was not happy to see us go.”

Andrew, took 20 year old Shawn around the ship and explained every thing to him and it was obvious the younger brother took every bit of what was being explained and asked dozens of questions as he became even more enthusiastic.

Now they were in the galley with George talking cookery. Well not Andrew, all he did was eat the fabulous food, but he was thinking hard about his brother as he was so animated and full of questions as to the menus that were served up from this tiny compartment.

George took him through the whole routine as to how he and Colin had worked together and the food that would be cooked and offered the crew. “We certainly never had much left after any meals Shawn and we loved being part of the full crew, not just chefs. I’m certainly going to miss Colin, I just hope I get someone like him when he leaves.” Andrew continued to watch his brother and, once again came up with the right answer. Shawn would be hoping to join the Lady Jean Peterson, he just knew it.

“Oh my dear Scott, another Yank on board! You lucky Limey!” Little did Andrew know there were two more Yank’s that were “hoping” as well.

“Skip, may I and Theo have a private word with you? Scott lead them to his and Andrew’s cabin. “Okay, what’s up?”

“Skip, Theo and I would like you to consider that you take us back and become full crew members, just like the guys who are about to leave the Jean. Sir, as you know we both have great jobs in our own professions, but Skip we both miss being at sea, but even more important sailing with you and the Jean. At least Skip please give it some thought.” Theo needed to say his bit.

“Skip, you maybe thinking I want to take over from Neil as 1st Engineer, but sir that is not the case because I am sure Andrew will be promoted to that rank and I will be more than happy to serve under him and take whatever rank I am offered. Andrew is a fine engineer and when he, Neil and I worked together I found two great like minded professionals who are at the top of their own engineering ability.

“You like us THAT much!? Ok, I need time to think about this and talk to Paul as well. Thank you for your honesty and by tonight, you will have my answer.”

“Thank you Skip.” Scott took them to the door and after opening it saw Andrew and Shawn standing there, with a Bushman grin on their faces!

“Okay husband to be, what’s up?”

“Shawn want’s to join your ship as second chef alongside George to replace Colin and I think he is perfect!” It was two against one

“Why?”

“Because he is my brother and as such you will already know we Bushman’s are perfect for you and your ship! AND if you take Shawn on, you will have four Americans crewing with you because I am sure that’s why Theo and Royston were meeting with you, asking to come back.”

“This is a take over plan by you lot isn’t it! Okay, Shawn be back here in 30 minutes and bring George with you for an interview and you, you cleaver sod tell the other two to be here in an hour. I need to find Paul and talk him through this and you Shawn had better talk to your family and let them know what your hoping for.”

“I could ask Paul for you my sweet captain.” Scott kissed the next 1st engineer then told him to piss off. An hour and a half later Scott had appointed three new crew members and as a member from the  personnel office was a guest at the wedding, he handed them over to start the employment procedures.

It was now time to forget all that and begin to party and of course the wedding followed by another party before Scott and Andrew would be driven to London for their four day honeymoon.

Brenda had a small army of caterers and bar staff in and by the time everyone had returned the huge hall was ready for the 150 guests who had been invited, from local friends, dozens of Ocean company employees and (rather well thought out,) certain government officials and military who had supported the arming of the Lady Jean Peterson. There were two other guests and they were Peter Fellows and his partner Jimmy Miller from Yorkshire. They had designed and built the radio controlled helicopters and, apart from being invited to the wedding anyway, they would remain for a week to help put the new machines together with the help of Neil and the boys who would test fly them and make any adjustments before they went back home.

The huge dining room table had been dismantled and taken into the hall and reassembled and placed in front of the massive fireplace to be loaded with food and drink for the guests to enjoy. But the placement had another meaning because above the mantelpiece was a large oil painting of the late Lady Jean Peterson, a stunningly beautiful women who had given much of that beauty to her son. That same table would remain where it was when the marriage took place. In that way Sir William Scott Peterson’s wife and Scott William Peterson’s mother would witness her son’s marriage to the equally beautiful Andrew Walter Bushman the next day.

Two coaches of guests arrived and joined the rest in the hall, all welcomed by Scott and Andrew, not faraway were the two boys with a small glass of champagne generously given to then by Brenda. As the last guest had been welcomed they went over to them. “Haven’t you two got better things to do than just stare at us?”

“We are your minders until you leave tomorrow.” Scott and Andrew split themselves. “And who the heck gave you that job?”

“Brenda!” They looked around and saw her standing there with her head to one side, eyebrows up and hands on hips.

“Oh shit! So which one of you minders will dance with me first?”

“Me, but only after you have danced with Andrew a few times.”

“Ok Jon, lead the way, we are all yours, it seems.”

It was a lovely evening with guests mingling, chatting, talking about all things unimportant but many a laugh. Scott and Andrew took the floor to much applause and, with the string quartet playing, they made a good attempt at trying to dance, but quickly followed by the boys who showed them how to do it properly. The floor filled and there it stayed for an hour, during which time Jon grabbed Scott and Marcel with Andrew. When finally the boys allowed Scott and Andrew to get back together then could actually dance much better.

And so it went on and everyone having a great time, but it was getting late for William.

“Dad how are you? It’s getting late.” It was 11 O’clock.

“I’m absolutely fine my boy and I will stay up to see the guests off but you two should say goodnight by midnight and get to your room, that way the party will begin to wind down, agree?”

“That’s fine and a good idea, Andrew cant take late nights anyway.”

“Bet he can!” Scott went away laughing his head off and told Andrew what would happen. They then went around the hall thanking everyone for coming, shaking hands and a lot of cuddling.

“Would you like us to come up and tuck you both in Skip?”

“There is another word rhyming with tuck and that aint going to happen either. Apparently we are stuck with you two tomorrow which is a bad start to any marriage.” They cuddled in tight and kissed both minders on the cheek.

Scott took over the small band stand. “Ladies ,and if there are any, gentlemen. It’s nearly midnight and I have to get Andrew to our room before he turns into a normal human being and I would rather he stays the way I know and love him.” Huge cheers. “On behalf of my father, the wonderful Andrew and myself we just want to thank you from our bottoms…..” More cheers. “And our hearts for giving us this wonderful party and also to thank you Brenda for your huge effort in bringing it all together. Now it’s goodnight and see you all tomorrow at breakfast after which we are ordered to go out for a few hours which will be a somewhat low point because we have the two minders with us!” More cheers as Scott took Andrew’s hand and went up the stairs waving as they went.

Just seconds after closing their door both men were naked, two seconds after that water was cascading over their bodies with both of them wrapped together. It was a long tender shower as all they wanted was to slowly wash one another, stopping off for long bouts of kissing.

Cuddled up in bed they continued to kiss and say silly things that would make both of them smile, then kiss again.

“So, I guess we are not going to make love then Scotty.”

“I want to save it for tomorrow night at the flat. That’s where we first made love and I thought it would be nice to make love as husband and husband there.”

“Well we better because my balls are so full they could burst.”

“They certainly didn’t when we shagged 10 times one day and night when we were sailing to meet the O1.”

We have NEVER done it that many times!”

“Yes we did, it’s in my diary, I write in it every time we fuck.”

“I must have been fast asleep in that case.”

“Or it could have been someone else come to think of it!” As fights go this one was rather tame and the daft pair stopped before it really started. They cuddled in one more time, kissed and still cuddled in, fell asleep.

Down below the guests had gone back to their homes or hotels and would return at 2 the next afternoon ready for the 3 o’clock ceremony which left the Bushman’s and crew to clear the decks and help wash up with Brenda supervising. After everything had been put away they went into the lounge for a goodnight drink before going to bed.

Neil and Theo were locked in conversation as were Royston, Reggie and Paulina. George and Colin were in deep conversation with Shawn who became more enthusiastic by the minute. “So, I will work in all departments and taught seamanship and eventually will be part of a watch?”

“You will be with Paul a lot, then have a programme to work  and train in all departments. You will be given an Alert station and more than likely operating searchlights with me. It’s arranged that couples are together on watch and as Skip does not take a regular watch it’s more than likely you will eventually team up with Andrew, but none of that will happen until Skip agrees you are ready and not until you have been on watch with him a few times. Just let us advice you, you may think he is just a friendly laid back guy, but he is more than serious and in complete command when at sea, in other words don’t take advantage of his good nature, just ask the boys what happens if you balls up. Shawn, the Lady Jean is a first class ship with a first class crew but only because she is commanded by a first class captain.”

“Thanks guys. I promise I won’t let Skip down or the rest of you. Theo, Royston and I fly back the day after tomorrow and complete the resignations we have already informed our respective employers by email. We then fly to Heathrow and get back here before the Jean sails, can’t wait.”

There would be another man who would sail with the ship as a weapons specialist and with Paul, operate as a sniper either on board the Jean when she was not escorting or transfer to the ship being escorted. Ex marine Corporal Mathew Price served for ten years from the age of 18 and by the time he got to 21 had qualified as a sniper and carried out his work in Iraq and Afganistan which, according to his records, served with considerable distinction, but those actions will not be mentioned here.

Scott and Paul had only met him once for four hours but before that Scott read two reports, one from his last commanding officer and the other from a Captain Cuthbert Lyons with whom Mathew had served in both Iraq and Afganistan.

Neither reports would detail any of the work or operations that he was involved in but indicated that there were of a highly sensitive nature.

Scott read that Mathew Price not only served with distinction, he gave 100% to his fellow marines. He was committed to all aspects of his work and became one of the most popular men on the various units he served with. “Loyal, hard working, a popular man amongst both officers and other ranks. He was a stickler for attention to detail which I can assure you because of it, it saved his life and others on two occasions, but at the same time could be totally relaxed and be part of free time with the rest of the men.

In his spare time he would run every day and carry out fitness programmes designed for our Corps. Mathew is a very fit young man, if indeed being 28 is still considered young. Surprisingly he is an accomplished classical guitarist and has given us hours of pleasure listening to his wonderful performances. I recommend him to you and wish him good fortune.”

They all met at the Harbour Hotel in Southampton at 10am a week before the wedding. Mathew was already there and stood up smiling as Scott and Paul approached and shook hands.

They were looking at a 5ft 10 very good looking 28 year old dressed in perfectly pressed casual short sleeved shirt and jeans. His hand grip was firm and a smile that showed perfect teeth. He was not big boned which gave him the look of a trim and perfectly formed torso that did not appear that it needed much work on weights or any other body building gym equipment.

This was not the usual type of interview, rather a general discussion about the reason why the Jean sailed as she did and the hope that it would end one day and now they were armed they could defend their ship and the one they were escorting with a greater degree of confidence.

Within a half hour Scott was more than satisfied that Mathew would be offered to join him, just one question.

“Mathew, I am not asking anything about your private life but you will know we are an all gay crew and I assume that won’t bother you, but I have to ask the question anyway. Will you have a problem with it?” Mathew smile was wide which broke into a laugh.

“Skip, if you take me on, I will be quite unique in that I will be the only straight member of the crew! No of course I don’t. I know your not asking but just to say I have had several girlfriends and all came to nothing and I am not desperate for long a term relationship. If it happens, it happens, that’s just me.” He went quite and looked at the carpet and both Scott and Paul waited knowing he needed to say more. He looked back up at Scott.

“Skip, during my last tour in Afgan I realised just how futile the whole thing was. In my opinion, and that’s all it is, the only thing that could win this war was money, not weapons. They can never be beaten and even if dad and I had not talked about starting our own security company, I would have left anyway.” He went quiet again.

“Skip, if you take me on, I would hope to become a full member of your ship and take on other duties as well as be there to use my weapon if called upon……but Skip I will never aim at an other human being, ever again. I know this sounds boastful but I need to say it. My trophy cupboard is full of awards as I have won so many competitions both military and civilian, sorry if this sounds arrogant, but I am that good. As I understand it, both Paul and I will be firing at hulls to hole them in the hope to stop an attack. I have watched the young man fly off those little aircraft you call bullets. He is brilliant and I would hope to get an outboard motor in my sights and destroy it. No engine, no attack. I will also fire just to miss pirates but the noise a 50 calibre bullet makes is enough to empty bowels believe me. The only exception to my rule is that if a situation arises that means crew are in a serious situation and could be shot, I would fire first. Anyway that’s me done and thanks for listening Skip.”

“You obviously know there could be injuries or worse due to a ricochet when a round hits the skiff?”

“That is their risk, not me aiming to injure or kill Skip.” Scott had no intention to consult Paul and stood up followed by the other two. He held out his hand which Mathew took. “Welcome to my mother’s ship Mathew.” Paul and Mathew shook hands. “And welcome to Skip’s ship as well Mathew!”

“Thank you Skip, I can’t wait to see your mother’s and your ship.”

It was a short drive to the docks and two hours later after a tour of the Jean they were sitting in the saloon discussing the actions that needed to be agreed in the event of an attack which they already knew one would happen off the coast of Somalia. It went on for some time and Mathew thinking for all of it. He had doubts but would not air them just now, not until they were at sea and began firing practise. Paul was a really nice guy and when they got to know one another better, he would talk to him.

 

That had been a week ago and we know since then what had been discussed and the changes to the LJP and crew changes that would take place.

We are now back in Scott’s and Andrew’s bedroom and they are still asleep and cuddled up. They would wake soon to a day that would bring much happiness but at the same time with some sadness because of course one person would be absent.

 

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