The Admiral and the Ensign

                                            or Lessons in Naval Terminology

 

In 1976 I was assigned as the Officer in Charge of the Nucleus Landing Force Staff on USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19). The NLFS was a small Marine unit whose function was to provide a permanent landing force presence on this Amphibious Command Ship, since a MAB or MAF staff was not always aboard. The ship was configured to provide command spaces for not only the landing force staff, but the Amphibious Task Force staff as well, and when there was no staff presence on board, the ship’s company tended to migrate into staff spaces. One of the NLFS jobs was to prevent that from happening. The Blue Ridge is now the 7th Fleet flagship, but during my tour aboard her, 1976-78, she was strictly an amphib. Navy and Marine staffs would embark for amphibious exercises or during war. Blue Ridge was the command ship during the evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. For exercises, staffs would usually be aboard for several months.

                                             

                                                                     Blue Ridge and Fujiyama

Fast forward to the present day. For the past several years I have been working with Marty Horechny, a retired Naval officer who was on Blue Ridge at the same time that I was. Yesterday he told me a story of an incident that deserves inclusion in T.I.N.S. Tales. Blue Ridge was his first ship after being commissioned, and he came aboard as a wet-behind-the-ears Ensign. He was assigned as a Division Officer, one of whose duties was maintenance of the Navy flag quarters on the ship…Admiral’s country.

The Commander Amphibious Task Force for the exercise during which this incident occurred was Rear Admiral Jim Morris, USN. He was the first commanding officer of the USS Tarawa (LHA-1), the first ship of that class, and upon promotion to flag rank was assigned as Commander, Task Force-76 (CTF-76), the Amphibious Force of the U.S. 7th Fleet. He was the CATF for amphibious exercises in WestPac, and was aboard Blue Ridge often in that capacity. Jim Morris was a personable gentleman and a fine Naval officer.

One day two of Marty’s sailors were working in the passageway of flag country when Admiral Morris stepped out of his stateroom and started to walk toward them. The sailor whose back was toward the Admiral didn’t see him approaching, and his mate said, "Here comes the Admiral." He didn’t understand and said, "What?" His mate repeated, "Here comes the Admiral." Still no comprehension. Again, "What?" By this time Admiral Morris was on top of them, and the sailor repeated….

With both sailors at attention the Admiral told them to get their Division Officer and Leading Chief and have them report to his stateroom immediately. Within minutes Marty and his Chief had their heels locked before Jim Morris’ desk. The Admiral told them, trying hard to keep a straight face, "Tomorrow morning at quarters I want you to tell your sailors that the proper terminology is ‘Attention on deck!’, not "Here comes the fucking Admiral!’ "

Just a tidbit of life at sea aboard that fine ship, USS Blue Ridge. And a fine ship she was.

Semper Fidelis,

Dirck Praeger sends