The Battleship: A Parable

Fighting through the haze of the morning fog, the lonely battleship plows through the Pacific. At her helm, the young sailor scans his dials, meters, and compass. He’s desperate to keep the speeding giant on course. In front of him stands the Officer Of the Deck…the man in charge. He’s scanning the distant horizon, looking for any sign of the much more powerful enemy. The Captain is pacing the bridge right now, unnerving everyone, but no one can say anything. If things go badly, it’s up to him to make the call.
Behind this man-of-war sails a small contingent of escort ships. Only one or two could hold their own in a battle at sea, and only for a few minutes at that. The enemy, however, is out there with greater strength than the fleet commander could ever imagine. Yet he has his orders, and it looks like things could get very ugly. The Captain paces some more. He raises his binoculars from time to time to scan the horizon for his stronger opponent. Then he walks some more. Then he walks out of the bridge to see the ships behind him, wondering how many of those sailors and officers are scared and uncertain like he is.
The enemy, unfortunately, knows this little battle force is here. Scouts for the enemy saw them just the other day. Yet this captain doesn’t know exactly where his enemy is coming from. They could be anywhere. It is a dicey situation…his enemy knows everything, and he knows nothing.
Suddenly, there is a loud whizzing sound and a splash behind the behemoth. This is followed by more splashes. The enemy has found them, although they haven’t found their mark. More and more splashes fall around the ship, getting closer with every “miss.” The Captain now knows where the enemy is, sort of. All of the shots are coming from one direction. He knows he must act.
There is yelling. Someone shouting something about taking a hit. The Captain can only imagine that it must be one of the other ships, as his ship hasn’t seen any damage yet. Now the enemy has found his mark. It’s only a matter of time. He must decide what to do. Someone is asking to retreat. The damage is already too great.
Then his ship is hit. It’s already started. The more powerful enemy has found his range and the Captain’s ships before the Captain’s crew could react. His gunners are still finding their range. He could pull out now. He could run. If he moved fast, he might be able to get away from the enemy. Another hit, and another, and still his own gunners are trying to find the enemy. He has to decide…
The Captain and the fleet had been given orders to go. There was a convoy of ships out there that needed protection. They needed someone to come to their rescue. Since they could not defend themselves, they needed protectors. They needed the Captain and his fleet. They needed to know the High Command was coming.
He had orders. Running wasn’t an option. He turned to his gunnery officer. “Fire when ready!” he shouts.
The big guns on the battleship start to turn to the right. The barrels raise to match the elevation needed to get a shell to the target. More enemy shells are falling around them. Some of them are hitting the Captain’s ships. Now is the time. “Fire!” shouts the Captain.
The first blast leaves his ship, followed quickly by another, and another. His ship lights up with round after round leaving the vessel. The enemy is still firing, but now the Captain and some of his ships are shooting back. Someone calls that they have found the convoy that needed their help. They must stay the course now. Time is precious. The enemy is more powerful, but his ship can still fight, and so it must. Even if it costs him everything, the convoy must be protected.

“Keep firing!”


Anonymous said...

That was a delightful little read! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

That was a delightful read! Thanks