Battle Stations


The sound of “General Quarters!” brings a shot of adrenaline to anyone who has worn the uniform, and probably to those who didn’t but enjoy good war movies.

It means the enemy is near and the ship needs to put itself at maximum readiness to do battle and repair damage that might be suffered during the fight.

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Each community handles battle stations differently. Aviators go to their ready rooms and watch movies. I think they believe that shipboard drills are silly, unless flying is involved.

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(Zebra is a setting that provides maximum protection against out-of-control flooding and fires.)

Many people will protest that I am being unfair, but I got stuck on board a carrier for a day once, and was assigned a ready room for my GQ station. Sure enough, the ship had a GQ drill and the squadron immediately started up the movie projector.

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I’m sure it was an anomoly.

Supply Officers will tell you that they are often assigned vital positions in damage control lockers or on the bridge during GQ, and I believe them absolutely and without reservation.

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Maybe I am a war movie fanatic, but I always considered the bridge to be the place to be. In Hollywood, the only place where anything significant happens is right there. No movie plot was ever built around the combat effectiveness of the ship’s office, for example.

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No, the bridge is where it is at. My first GQ station, however, was at the exact opposite end of the ship, in a compartment called “After Steering.” Watch standers in After Steering are placed there to drive the ship in case the bridge gets blown up. It was pretty quiet there, and no one ever yelled at us. But I didn’t like it, and here’s why.

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Which is probably why all the Hollywood actors are on the bridge.


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