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Setting the Ice Tracking Party

Posted on 08 Aug 2022 @ 10:34pm by Commander Nathan Lewes & Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Watts & Lieutenant Commander Ciara Mcclellandi & Lieutenant Ronnie Broward & Lieutenant Isabel Castillo & Command Master Chief Petty Officer Hector Gonzales

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: Wardroom & Control
Timeline: Date 2025-04-29 at 1530

The Captain and Executive Officer entered the wardroom together, bringing the assembled department heads and chief of the boat to their feet. The submarine was about to hit a few milestones in succession, so a quick department head meeting had been called. The submarine had just returned to a depth of four hundred feet after being at periscope depth to do their last transmission until they came out from the other side of the ice. Coverage for the various watch sections had occurred to get all of the department heads and command together. They were thirty minutes from a watch section change, setting the ice detail, and about ninety minutes from the marginal ice zone. Of course, when the ice floes would start was anyone's best guess.

"Get some coffee and grab a chair," the Captain ordered, himself and his XO both moving toward the coffee pot.

Ciara grabbed her cup of coffee and stepped aside to let someone else grab coffee.

There were many times where Isa was happy to wait on things, but when it came to coffee she wasn't shy. She stepped in behind Ciara and filled her cup, doctoring it as needed and quickly returned to her seat, where she fiddled with her notepad and pen for a moment before taking a long draught of the hot dark liquid.

Ronnie took his seat forgoing a mug of coffee as he turned the volume down on his radio clipped to his belt. While he was due to go on watch soon, he had decided that drinking coffee late in the afternoon gave him too much heartburn. He waited for everyone else to get settled before turning his attention to the captain.

Hector took a chair next to Lieutenant Broward and removed his ball cap. He'd been making his rounds throughout the boat and so far he was pleased with how the crew was performing. He had identified some areas which needed some attention, but it was nothing too serious to get upset about.

Liz was the last to get coffee and took her seat at the wardroom table to the Captain's right and looked around at the officers and COB assembled. LCDR McClellandi, the ENG, Lieutenant Broward, the NAV, Lieutenant Castillo, the Chop, Lieutenant Finch, the acting WEPS, and the COB, Master Chief Gonzales. It was a good group of officers to work with, and they had become quite the team since assembling as a crew just a year ago. Their first patrol, real or not, was going smoothly despite a lot of wrenches thrown in.

The captain was opening his mouth to speak when there was a knock at the wardroom door and he sighed audibly as he looked toward the door, "enter!"

"Apologies for the disturbance, sir," the ITS3 said, popping through the hatch that opened shortly after. He shifted the clipboard and cover he carried under his left arm as he secured the hatch back on the latch and turned toward the group nodding his respect as he approached the captain.

"Communication sir from COMSUBPAC regarding a crew update," ITS3 explained.

"Thanks," Lewes said, signing the receipt on the clipboard and taking the dispatch. "Dismissed," he said, to the ITS3 who responded with a quick aye and disappeared through the door as Lewes read the dispatch.

"Update about Mr. Williams," Lewes announced. "Seems he's developed a post surgical infection and has been transferred to a higher level hospital for care. He has been detached from Arizona and we will get a new department head as soon as possible," he said, grimly.

Ciara made a small note, she'd have to shoot Williams an e-mail to make sure he was ok. They had been through a lot together, going through the Academy together. After that she set her pen down.

Isa hadn't known Williams well. Even as a tight-knit group there were some she was closer with than others. But it was still a shame to hear the news. Adding a new officer midway through a tour wasn't unheard of, but it was certainly not the most common thing in the world either and she couldn't help but be curious how this would go.

Ronnie showed a look of concern as everyone took the news in. It was a shame that Williams would not be able to return, but his condition must have been serious enough to warrant a permanent reassignment. With the news of Ensign Walton's father passing, this just added to the cloud hanging over them.

Hector nodded slightly as he looked down at his hands. He made a mental note to be watching the weapons department. This shake up could damage their cohesion as a group, but it was not unheard of in the service. The crew was highly trained and would perform regardless of who their department head would be.

"Moving on," Lewes said, "we are going to be setting the ice detail about an hour prior to entering the marginal ice zone. The XO and I will be handling it on an eight to eight schedule with her handling the day and myself the night. We will relieve each other as needed for personal breaks and meals during that time. Please be sure to update everyone in your department to ensure everyone especially the officers know their roles at quarters until we secure this party."

Isa took in the assembled as the details were shared. Some of them had been under the ice before and for those this wasn't new, but for her this was a first and she was almost jittery excited about the prospect. In some ways navigating under the ice felt like old school submarine navigation to her -- before all of the computers made so many things clearer while simultaneously adding so much complexity. She nodded and scratched a quick note on her pad, rehearsing who needed what and where she'd start her rounds first in preparation.

Ronnie nodded and pulled his notebook from his pocket to write down the watch details. He had already briefed his people on the procedures for transiting under the ice. He also made a note to ensure the updated ice charts were ready and available in the control room.

"I'll be sure to increase my own rounds to keep an eye on those who haven't been under the ice before sir. I'm confident everyone will make it through with no problem," Hector said looking towards the captain and assembled officers.

Ciara made some notes on the notepad she carried with her, there was a few things she would have to keep an eye on, and she was one to make notes.

"XO anything?" Lewes asked.

"Not at the moment, sir," Liz responded.

"Alright lets get back to work then," Lewes said, rising from the table.




About fifteen minutes after Watch Section Two had taken their stations and relieved Watch Section One the Captain and Executive Officer made their way into control. The arrival of the Captain was announced by the Quarter Master of the Watch and acknowledged with a "carry on" from the captain. He approached the command watch station and nodded at the officer of the deck.

He grabbed a microphone and toggled the 1MC before keying up, "Attention Crew of the USS Arizona, this is the Captain. Set the ice tracking party effective immediately. The Executive Officer will be the Command Duty Officer from zero-eight-hundred until twenty-hundred and I will be the Command Duty Officer from twenty-hundred until zero-eight-hundred. Any questions regarding watch sections and battle stations should go through the normal chain of command. That is all," he said.

"Attention in control!" Liz called loudly, silencing all present. "I am now the Command Duty Officer I have the conn and Lieutenant Broward retains the deck. Station the ice tracking party, prepare to go under the icepack."

"This is Lieutenant Broward, XO has the conn as the Command Duty Officer. I retain the deck," Ronnie acknowledged from his position at the OOD console. He looked towards the Co-pilot's station, "Co-pilot, pass the word along the 1MC: station the ice tracking party."

Stationing the Ice Tracking Party positioned additional sonar and fire control personnel. They would energize extra consoles for monitoring the under-ice sonar, fathometer, and the top sounder. The under-ice sonar would transmit, unfortunately detectably, forward from the nose cone to check for ice keels jutting down from the surface in front of them. The top sounder, which was undetectable, would transmit upward, checking for not only the distance from the top of the submarine to the bottom of the ice but also the thickness of the ice. The quartermaster of the watch and officer of the deck kept track of spaces in the ice where it was thin enough to penetrate polynyas, which were basically holes in the ice they could surface through or transmit through.

In addition to the additional personnel for the safety of the submarine, the deck and the conn were split. The Command Duty Officer, essentially a super OOD, had all the authority of the commanding officer even if it wasn't. During times where the CDO was stationed they were responsible for the command of the submarine even if the boat went to battle stations. The CDO would maintain the CONN which would be control of the ships direction, depth, and tactical actions while the OOD would maintain the deck which was the operations of the submarine beyond movement and combat. The OOD would also be responsible for assisting the CDO in navigating safely.

 

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