“You think that’s bad… you guys remember Judo?”
“Oh hell yeah, the ‘like a glove’ incident,”
“Judo ran the boat right inside a forty-foot shipping container, under water, in the dark. Didn’t know it until the boat hit the back end of the container at full speed,”
“No kidding huh? Really that wasn’t the craziest part. He was down in Key West. The currents were pulling him every which way. They were so strong that I think a couple times they were making no headway at…”
“Yeah, I’ve dived down there, and that place is insane. I think we had the boat at full speed, too, but it was going backwards.”
“I believe it, the place is nuts. Anyway, so you guys remember Judo, he was no small guy. He’s workin’ the stick the entire time. Fighting to keep that boat on course. His massive forearms must have felt like he’d been in a five-hour long tug-o-war or something. Then just like that it all stopped and… well Judo told me after he remembers thinking what the hell, then bam! They hit the back end of the container.”
“That’s crazy man! What’er the chances of running into a submerged container… then what are the chances of actually running inside one, that’s almost, a ga-zillion to none…unbelievable…”
“You wanna hear unbelievable? You guys remember Damien?”
It was another weekend in Virginia Beach and the platoon was hanging out at someone’s house, having beers, sitting on the deck over looking the Chesapeake Bay off Chic’s Beach. Board shorts, flip flops or Tevas, no shirts. Standard attire. On the East Coast you could be a loner if you chose to. If not there was always a place to hang out and most Team guys hung out together, most of the time.
Team guys tried to escape work but but never really could. Someone always had to bring up a story about some other Team guy (liked or disliked), some shitty op or who knows what.
For SDVers there was no shortage of good stories to tell. In the Teams or the military stories generally were embellished or became larger than life. SDV stories however, rarely needed embellishment and were already larger than life, since there was only a handful of people who could tell the stories with any credibility. The stories did have a way of changing slightly, though. It was no one person’s fault. No one wrote them down as they happened, so it was up to the individual telling the story to remember it. Some versions of the story did not come out exactly as the event happened. But they were still great stories.
“Oh shit yeah. Damien.”
“Damien? Who’s Damien?”
“Well, it really wasn’t a who – it was more of a what,”
“Come on now, don’t leave us hangin’ like this. Get on with it,”
“Alright, fine. So the platoon’s down in PR (Puerto Rico) and they’re prepping to do a dive. The ET (Electronics Technician) tells the Chief that the boat is acting funny. He’s getting some weird readings and lights are blinking and stuff, but nothing major. Chief figures it must be the ghost in the machine or something like that. ‘Dive on,’ he says.
So they launch the boat. Get it out to the inner harbor. For those of you guys that haven’t been down there yet, there’s the dry dock that is full of water, it’s not really a dry dock anymore. Anyway, then there’s the inner harbor right off the compound. The inner harbor has a kind of narrow mouth that opens to the Caribbean. So everybody’s got a picture in mind?”
“Ok, so the pilot motors the boat out of the dry dock to the inner harbor on the surface, standard stuff. He checks in with the Dive-Sup (Diving supervisor; pronounced Dive-Soup) on the surface boat, a Boston Whaler. The pilot tells the Sup that the boat is acting funny. Lights are flickering and he’s getting weird readings on his display. The Dive-Sup figures it must be the ghost in the machine and, well, he tells them to get ready to dive.”
“‘Dive on,’ he says.”
“The canopy closes and the boat submerges and the Dive-Sup’s left to watch the bouncing ball… you know, the big orange buoy. Only the buoy doesn’t move for a really long time. About the time the safety diver’s going to throw a crash in the water to get the divers to come to the surface, they hear someone yelling at them from near the mouth of the harbor. The mouth is about three hundred meters from where the dive boat is watching the buoy.”
“They pull up the buoy and there’s nothing attached. So the Dive-Sup motors over to where the pilot and navigator are floating on the surface by the mouth of the harbor. They tell him the SDV freaked out and dove and they bailed. The SDV was headed south, if the readings were right… which meant it was on its way to Cuba or Belize or something.”
“The pilot and navigator climb in the boat and as they do their SDV breaches the surface like a giant blue whale about a hundred meters away. It motors on the surface for a while, but not long enough for the dive boat to get near it before it dives again.”
“We get all the boats out – whalers, dive boats, zodiacs – and start searching for the beast. Quickly the SDV is given its own call sign, Damien, after that creepy possessed kid from the movies. For the next several hours the entire Team searches for it. There are a few millisecond sightings and that’s it. Nothing else. The sun goes down and the search is called off. The OIC (Officer in Charge) is pissed and starts to file his paper work… and well… that’s it.”
“No, not really… I am just fuckin’ with you. So the guys are pretty bummed, especially the Chief and OIC who have to answer to the man, yah know the drill. Everyone else goes home and talks about what a great story this is going to be in a year or two.”
“Everyone shows up the next morning for PT (Physical Training), a run. The guys head out and a couple support dudes hang back to get to work on whatever they needed to do. The compound’s quiet, the building’s quiet… it’s just plain quiet. The support guys hear a weird noise start up, a kha-boomp, kha-boomp, over and over. It’s slow, like every two seconds or something.”
“The support guys start hunting for the source of the weird sound. They look in side the building. Nothing. They walk around the outside of the building. Nothing. They stop and look out at the dry dock. Now remember, the dry dock isn’t really a dry. It’s actually full of water. It hadn’t been used in a hundred years or something. It was old and broken, but it was a perfect place for us to launch the SDVs. This dry dock is huge, like two or three football fields long and almost a half a field wide. You’ll see when you get down there.”
“So there’s the two support guys’ standing there. The noise had stopped. They stood there for awhile listening, but they hear nothing. Just about the time they decided to go back into the building, they hear the noise again. Kha-boomp, but they still couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. The dry dock? They walk towards the back end of the dry dock and there, under a mound of debris left from many a storm, is Damien, covered in grass and tree limbs. The wave action in the dry dock is rhythmically pushing Damien into the back wall over and over. Damien’s plastic front end slamming into the concrete wall, kha-boomp, kha-boomp. Ok, that’s it.”
“So what happened? Did they get the boat out?”
“Ok, I guess you want to hear the whole story? So the support guys are pretty freaked out. Crazy demon boat and all. They don’t want to go near it. But they do, anyway. They get some straps and run it through the open cockpit and tie it off. Of course they tell their story to the platoon when they get back from the run, and everyone freaks out. But yeah, they get the SDV out and it becomes the dog-and-pony boat for the Team. No more ops for Damien. By the way, the ETs looked at it again before they mothballed it… there’s nothing wrong with it… nothing,”
“Fucking weird, man.”
“Yeah, that’s just whacked.”
“Who’s got the next stupid ridiculous story to tell?”
“Haole Boy, didn’t you have a story you wanted to tell about you and Glad Bag, a nine boat, a big fucking ship, and tidal shifts, or something?”
“I did, but I think I am going to wait for another time. It’s time start our night off right. Who’s up for the hittin’ the Duck Inn”
“Let’s do it.”
“Where in the hell did I leave my shirt?”
(Editor’s Note: Read the previous parts of this story at BP Grogan’s author page.)
(Featured Image Courtesy: Wikimedia)
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