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Welcome to the Goat Locker

Posted on 23 May 2022 @ 7:10pm by Chief Petty Officer Nathaniel Winchester & Senior Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Adler

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: Chief's Quarter's, USS Arizona
Timeline: Date 2025-04-21 at 1830

Chief Winchester was lying on his bunk, propped up against his pillows, a book in his hand. 'Battleship Commander: The Life of Vice-Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr'. It was one of his favorite books, and a good choice to bring. He'd finished putting his stuff away in his locker and under his rack a couple of minutes prior, and having already done a last check of the Medical Bay before departure.

It had only been a few hours since Ben had set foot on the boat, but it still felt like an entire day had passed. Still, it was with some reluctance that he had turned over supervision of the engineering watch. He had already begun to adjust his understanding of what time it was mentally, but his body wanted more adjusting. Besides, the adrenaline from firing the reactor and getting underway had burned through him for a few hours leaving him wondering if maybe a nap wasn't in order anyway. He made his way to the Goat Locker, as it was affectionately called, and tugged his sea bag free of his bunk where he had left it hours before.

"Chief," he said, acknowledging the corpsman settled in his own bunk. He began to unpack his bag, moving the various bits of his life into his locker and the tray beneath his rack.

Nathaniel looked up from his book and replied with, "Morning Senior Chief. Ready for the Voyage?"

Ben paused midway to putting a small stack of carefully folded briefs away. He had never been great at small talk, but he made an effort all the same. "Ready as can be. We didn't destroy Seattle on start up, so seems like we're off to an auspicious start. You?"

Nathaniel gave a slight grin at his comment about destroying Seattle. "I'm ready, though I wish we could get a larger medical bay. It's annoying, having to do surgery in the Wardroom. The Royal Navy get a proper bay, but not us." Nathaniel gave an apologetic smile. "Sorry for ranting. Just really annoying. Anyway, hopefully this'll be a pleasant voyage."

The Nuke looked over at Nathaniel with slightly raised eyebrows, but he didn't comment on the medical bay. They were on one the newest most advanced submarine in the United States Navy. He assumed if the bay was small there was a reason and he certainly hoped that surgery would be unnecessary on a 60 day PR tour. He'd carefully settled his pile of underwear before pulling his shower stuff free and placing them into the locker. His journal and copy of A Canticle for Leibowitz were carefully tucked up into his rack along with a pen. He preferred pencil, but on a submarine options for sharpening were limited.

Sea bag emptied he folded it carefully and shoved it into the back of his locker before turning back to the Corpsman feeling like he should at least make another valiant attempt at conversation. They were going to be roommates after all. "What're you reading?" he asked, eyes settling on the book whose title he could read perfectly well from the cover.

"Battleship Commander, The Life of Vice-Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr. An excellent read about the Vice Admiral and his service as one of the top US admirals of the Second World War," Nathaniel responded. "I'd be happy to lend it to you if you want?". He noticed the Senior Chief's book, and nodded towards it. "Might I ask what your reading?"

Winchester's book was out of his usual fare. Nonfiction had never really been his thing, preferring science fiction for recreation. He had enough real life experience with the Navy that he didn't usually want to think about it in his down time. Still it felt impolite to turn down the offer so he nodded. "Thanks. I may take you up on that."

Adler rummaged though his rack, pulling the book back out and offering it to the Corpsman. "Canticle for Leibowitz," he said when the other man took the proffered book. "I read it at least once every sea assignment. Seems like a good reminder as a Nuke. You're welcome to borrow my copy as well."

Nathaniel handed the book back, not wanting to stop the Senior Chief from reading. "Thanks Senior." Nathaniel, wanting to to keep the conversation going, changed the topic. "So, why'd you join the Navy?"

It was a funny thing how often you might see a person and never really get a chance to know them. He and Winchester had been crewmates since they had first arrived months earlier, but really they hadn't had much opportunity to get to know each other. "For the reactors," Ben said simply. "I wanted to work with reactors and the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program seemed like the most expedient way to do that." He set the book back up on his bunk before turning and leaning back against the lockers. "You?"

"Reactors huh? Well, I can't disagree about it being the most expedient way." Nathaniel wasn't surprised by this. From the scuttlebutt he'd heard, Adler was a Nuclear Nerd. He then responded to Adler's question. "I was always interested in helping the sick. Wanted to be a Doctor till I meet my Uncle Jacob. He was a Hospital Corpsman at the time, and always told me stories of his time in the Navy. I loved the idea of traveling around the ocean on a ship, seeing the world while helping people out who really needed help. Plus, serving my country was something my father had always drilled into me."

Ben nodded. He couldn't relate exactly. He hadn't grown up with terribly many male relatives and his own father was entirely out of the picture. He liked the serving his country aspect of the Navy, but in reality it wasn't what drove him. "What made you decide on the submarine service then?"

“The advice of a fellow Chief. I was posted on the USNS Mercy at the time. Finest ship I ever served aboard and my favourite posting so far, though my time on the Chicago, my posting prior to this, was a close second. Anyway, we’d been out at sea as part of the Pacific Partnership program, providing medical support and treatment to the residents of a couple of South East Asian nations. We’d been of the coast of… East Timor at the time I believe, though it’s been a couple of years since then. We’d had a couple of personal from Naval Medical Center San Diego aboard with us, one of whom was then Senior Chief and now Command Senior Chief David Mendez. He’d originally been a Submarine IDC before he’d been posted to Naval Med San Diego. Told me all these stories about how fun life on a submarine was, how you get more independence as a corpsman on a submarine then on dry land or a ship, how you get extra pay, etcetera etcetera. I’d been wanting something different and more interesting to do, so I became a Submarine IDC. Haven’t looked back.”

Ben nodded absently in acknowledgement before realizing he probably should look at the man who had been speaking to confirm he was, in fact, paying attention. He turned to Winchester and offered the man a small smile. "Sounds like you're in the right sort of spot then," he said before shifting to climb up into his bunk. Once up there he hung his head over the side and added. "Nice chatting with you. Gonna try to get a few winks in before I'm needed again." And then he rolled over and shut his eyes, hoping for sleep to come quickly.

Nathaniel nodded in response,. "Alrighty mate. I'll see you around". Nathaniel opened his book back up, and quietly returned to reading.

 

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