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Eyes Only (Part II)

Posted on 16 Jul 2022 @ 11:44pm by Lieutenant Ronnie Broward & Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Watts & Lieutenant Isabel Castillo & Commander Nathan Lewes

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: Radio Shack & Captain's Stateroom
Timeline: Date 2025-04-22 at 1115

Security Alert: CO Eyes Only

TO: CO USS Arizona (SSN-803)
FR: COMSUBPAC
RE: ENS WALTON - DEATH IN FAMILY NOTIFICATION

DATE: 22 APR 25 – 0100W

CO EYES ONLY

1) WITH REGRET COMSUBPAC RECIEVED WORD FROM FAMILY OF ENS LORRAINE WALTON THAT HER FATHER PASSED AWAY IN A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT OCCURRING 21 APR 25, UNKNOWN TIME. COMMAND TO DETERMINE ACTIONS REGARDING NOTIFICATION TO ENS WALTON.

2) FAMILY NOTIFIED ENS WALTON WILL BE NOTIFIED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE REGARDING SUBMARINE OPERATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS PROCEDURE.

3) COMMAND TO NOTIFY COMSUBPAC REGARDING DECISION TO NOTIFICATION AND ANY OTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION ASAP.

4) FATHER IS HENRY WALTON, LOCATED IN ITHICA, NY TIMEZONE R.

COMSUBPAC SENDS ///

RELEASE IS NOT AUTHORIZED ///

LCDR BETHANY ARDNER, CDO




Lewes read over the message he held in his hand three times before he noticed the looks of the radio operators concerns staring at him as he stood at the printer. He cleared his throat and folded the message up and tucked it into his right pants pocket and then signed the clipboard the senior ITS held out to him.

"Get the messenger of the watch to deliver the broadcast to the CONN," Lewes ordered. He moved to the empty console and hit a button dialing the bridge and lifted the phone handset.

On the bridge the ring of the phone made Isa's head pop up and her eyes narrow slightly. With a glance at Ciara she lifted the phone and placed it to her ear. "CONN, Lieutenant Castillo here," she answered.

"CONN, Captain," he said when the JOOD answered the phone. "I need yourself, the executive officer, and the NAV to my stateroom immediately."

With a frown and a nod that Lewes couldn't see she responded. "Acknowledged sir. Myself, Lieutenant Broward and Lieutenant Commander Watts."

She hung up the phone then and turned to Ciara, frown deepening. "Skipper requires the XO, NAV, and myself right now."

After receiving the engineer's acknowledgement, Isabel keyed the 1MC. "Watts and Broward report to the Captain's stateroom on the double," she advised before releasing the button and making her way off the bridge.




When the first person arrived to his stateroom he had the paper laid out on the desk, facedown, god forbid Walton happened to walk in despite that being a very unlikely event. He sat his desk back to it in his chair so that he would be able to see the officer that assembled.

Ronnie paused outside the captain's stateroom and knocked on the door before hearing the order to enter. He opened the hatch and stepped in. "You wanted to see me sir," he asked taking note of the paper on the captain's desk. Being summoned by the CO so soon after the routine radio updates was usually something important, and the look on the captain's face gave him a slight worry. Whatever the news was, it wouldn't be good.

"Yeah, we'll wait for anyone, leave the door open until they're all here," Lewes said, motioning the man to the chair. He'd let the two female officers share the edge of his rack.

Isabel wasn't far behind and stepped into the room since the door was open and moved to the side, hands clasped behind her back. She glanced over to the NAV, a concerned look crimping her brow as she said. "Reporting as requested, sir," she acknowledged.

"Have a seat," Lewes said, motioning toward his bed. "Door XO," he said, as Liz followed Isa inside.

Liz acknowledged with shutting the door to the stateroom and then moving to sit next to Isa on the bed. Her attention directly on the commanding officer she'd overheard about the CO's message only and was surprise by the people that were requested but had been expecting to have been summoned herself.

"Walton's father passed away," Lewes announced. "We need to determine how to handle this. Before we even determine how we want to allow for leave or anything of that nature how to inform her. As the Ensign's department head and roommate I would like your advice," the Captain said, looking to the two department heads present.

Ronnie sighed as the weight of the news hit him. This was going to be a first for him in his naval career. While there had been times before he had had to deliver bad news to his subordinates, he had never had to deal with one of his people losing a family member while at sea, especially so soon after leaving port. He knew from his conversations with Ensign Walton she was close with her father, so this would be an extra deep blow. "I know that her and her father were very close sir, this will be an incredibly delicate matter to handle," Ronnie said looking at the captain and his other two shipmates to offer more.

"I don't think she'll do well and frankly I was already concerned from a performance point of view on her ability to complete her qualifications," Liz said, looking at it from the business end of things first. "We should look at getting her leave when we get to New York."

Lewes nodded simply, familiar with the XO's opinions on Walton's immaturity. That being said while it was a concern for him as well he knew that this would make many things more difficult for the Ensign. He looked to the Supply Officer for her opinions next.

Isabel had listened to the other two officers, face unreadable. "I concur with the XO and NAV," she said first. "Walton is going to be crushed. But we still have quite a bit of time before New York. I can't speak to her duties expressly, but I would be concerned that her decision making could be compromised. As much as I hate to ask, is the right procedure to hold off sharing this news?" Even asking made her feel icky, but a compromised officer was a danger even if they had all the best intentions in the world. They'd been trained to perform even in the face of loss, but those losses were in person, in the line of duty. There was simply no training that could address loss of family.

"It's on us to make that choice," Lewes said.

"I don't recommend holding the news that might cause further distress, honestly, and while I know we maintain combat readiness and posture at all times we're on a non-critical assignment and have little to no risk. Frankly with an officer who is unqualified to stand any duty watches it poses no hardship on the other officers to pull her from the watchbill," Liz added.

Isa glanced over at Liz appreciatively. Glad to have the possibility nixed. "Makes sense," she said, tone neutral despite the relief she felt.

"Is there a chance we can take her off during ICEX? I'm sure the Canadians could transport her to one of their bases where she could get back to the states sooner," Ronnie offered since for all intents and purposes it sounded like the sooner they could get her off the boat the more advantageous the situation. It would be a long trip to New York, especially with one of the junior officers distracted by something so traumatic weighing down on them.

"That's a bad idea," Liz interjected. "It would cause a hardship for the ICEX people and it would be difficult and honestly it would likely be just as fast to get her home through New York."

"I concur with the XO," Lewes said. "Perhaps we should make our recommendation to remove her from the submarine to COMSUBPAC and let them arrange the details and then tell her once we can present a plan."

Isabel was nodding absently as everyone spoke, acknowledgement more than anything else. "I disagree, sir. If we're going to tell her we should tell her and reach out to COMSUBPAC at the same time. Let her know what's happened and that we're working to get a plan in place for her. Knowing that we are may be some comfort and it alleviates any concern about withholding the information."

“As opposed to knowing the plan?” Lewes asked.

"Yes," Isa advised. "If we think we should tell her then let's tell her. Letting her know that we're working on a way to get her home with COMSUBPAC may be some comfort."

"I have to agree with Lieutenant Castillo. If we wait too long before informing Walton, she may be more difficult to handle until we get her off. If she knows we are working on a plan, that is one less thing she will have to worry about," Ronnie said. Ultimately it was the captain's call, and it was a difficult situation no matter which way you looked at it. It was also one of the hardships that faced submariners at sea. Problems back home were just that much harder to deal with when you were at sea under the ocean.

"I have to be honest, I'm not sure what to do about this one," Liz said, glancing between the Captain and the other two officers present. "I immediately thought that the Captain was on the money but the two of you know her better. I just want to ask what do you think she will do if we tell her we are seeking a plan to get her home but the Navy says no?"

At the end of the day they could recommend anything they wanted but it would be up to COMSUBPAC if they would release the officer or not.

Isa frowned. It was a possibility, she knew. The reality was that Walton might be required to stay with them to the end of their deployment and then, if she had leave, return home. "We should be honest with her about that possibility," she said simply. "We all know the realities. But I still think that feeling of having us in her court, knowing we've asked COMSUBPAC for a plan could be a comfort. There's always a chance they say no. But Walton knows that."

"NAV?" Lewes asked.

Ronnie looked at everyone before turning his attention back to the CO. "I agree with Lieutenant Castillo, sir. She has a right to know, and I'd like to think that COMSUBPAC would allow her to be taken off in New York at least," Ronnie said with a slight nod. He knew that if the roles were reversed, Ronnie would want to know. But he also knew that very rarely was bereavement leave not granted, especially when the deceased was an immediate relative.

"Fine," Lewes said, not convinced but as the XO suggested they should defer to the judgement of those who knew her better. "The XO and I and one other person should be present when we give her the news. Who is the best person for the job? Department head? Roommate?"

Isa looked from the Skipper to the NAV and back. "Lieutenant Broward, sir." She gave Ronnie an apologetic look. "He's known her longer and worked more closely with her. I've only known her a few days as a roommate. We do know each other, but I think it'll go better with her department head in the room."

Lewes and Watts both shifted their gaze to Broward for his reaction.

Ronnie looked at the XO and CO before he nodded his approval. "I'll do it sir. As unfortunate as it sounds, I've had to inform a subordinate about a death in the family before," he said as he saw the CO nod his assent. "With your permission sir, ma'am, I'll pass the word for the Ensign to meet me in the wardroom. I'll break the news to her there," he said as he stood. When the CO had given him permission, Ronnie made his way out of the stateroom and found the nearest sound powered phone. He picked up the handset and punched the button for the CONN. When the line picked up, he spoke into the receiver, "Conn, this is Lieutenant Broward. Pass the word for Ensign Walton to meet me in the wardroom."

 

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