Refueling

 

1955-1958

 

The first time I had the conn while bringing the Mighty Forerunner alongside another ship for refueling, Captain Mullen was nervous as a cat.  We swung wide, aft of the oiler, to come to a parallel course and to try to match their speed while maintaining a proper distance between the two ships.  I, too, was quite nervous

 

LCDR Joe Doak, the XO, in the pilot house, was cool as he could be.  I was standing just outside the pilot house door behind the alidade compass with the Capt. just forward of me.  His concentration fully on the two ships’ shifting positions.  Wind and waves toyed with our good intentions.

 

Joe, on the other hand, stood relaxed as could be, just inside the pilot house, swinging an imaginary golf club and occasionally glancing at our progress and position. Periodically he would indicate I should add or drop "two turns" (rpm) or come right or left a degree or two to maintain our proper position. Soon the Captain was saying, "Now you're getting it!  That's it!  Good work!"

 

I was shouting the orders, but Joe was conning the ship.  However, I did learn the technique. Be calm.  No sudden or abrupt moves.  Change only in small increments and keep your eyes open.

 

Ace Mullen and Joe Doak were a marvelous combination.  Joe went on to command his own ship, a then new DL, and Ace went to the Squadron Staff.

 

They were two of the finest officers I ever worked for.  I still remember overhearing Ace Mullen's first call to his wife after he had been relieved.  He said, "Well Honey, it's just Commander Mullen now".

 

He really enjoyed being a fine captain and good example to his officers and crew.

         

 Dave Reedy Chief Engineer