For years I endured the joke. School, college, uni and even sometimes at work. Its one of those jokes which will forever carry on and people always think they are being clever when making it. When people find out my surname is Kirkby I often get asked ‘Do you get called Captain much?’. Its a joke as old as the hills and, while I would love to travel around in space, I can’t help think I don’t look much like William Shatner, and have never said ‘No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space’
The relevance of tonight’s post to this tired dribbling is the HMS Dauntless, currently (as I type this) sitting on Great Yarmouth docks but due to leave some time Sunday morning.
Shes one of the Royal Navy’s newest destroyers and we had the privilege to have a guided tour around her today from one of her Lieutenants who is her navigation officer so quite a distinguished tour guide for a bunch of civvies. Due to a tie with work, we had the offer to visit her and I managed to drag the better half and our daughter along for the visit which involved getting up at a rather nasty hour and driving for nearly two hours to get from Ipswich to the dock in Yarmouth.
Shes huge. At over 150m long, you could see her from quite a long way in the distance with her rather unusual profile which is designed to give a profile similar to a fishing vessel and I would hate to see what kind of fish she pulls up from the sea.
After being met on the dock by one of her young officers (damn did I feel old next this guy) and being taken past a couple of gentlemen armed with large rifles and casual arms resting on the large rifles (i would have bet good money on them being fully loaded), we had a tour around the flightdeck/helicopter pad at the back, launchs, operations, officers mess (nasty looking chairs in there), and some of the techy areas.
The best part was of course going on the bridge and here we come back to our post title. I sat in the captains chair and grinned like a loon the whole time. OK so the little un got to do it as well along with her stuffin’ puffin Puffpuff. I couldn’t hog the fun all by myself. I resisted many urges to ask someone to take us to warp speed mainly because I would have looked a right prat infront of the crew members on the bridge but for the first time ever I can say I felt something. It was either the spirit of my uncle slapping me round the back of the head for disrespecting his old service or the fact I was sitting in the chair of a man who is in charge of a ship costing over £1billion GBP. Either way it was a jolt. I didn’t linger too long in the chair as I honestly felt it was wrong somehow. The lieutenant told us a story about a couple of chaps on the bridge who dared each other to sit in the chair only for the Captain to walk in while one was sitting in it. I can’t imagine his fate but the fact the Captain is the ultimate authority on his ship, who am I to sully his chair?
Lets play ‘spot which launch door was the the missile fired from’
And finally, just to prove that the Navy has a sense of humour it had these posters scattered around the ship. I honestly thought it was a typo until I looked at the picture and it clicked that FOD stands for Foreign Object Damage. Har har har.