Silent Service XIII: Argonaut

First of all website was down yesterday. Sorry about that.

Hmph! First Dolphin, then Prisse… About time I get my sub corners back –

Wait. I’m not on for today?

Riiiiiight. Shipgirl profiles interspersed with design sections. Not to mention we’ve just fixed the website anyways…

*sigh* Another day, then. I was really looking forward to tell you about the V-boats too…

Well, it’s fine… I’m just going to go back to my room and read a book or something. It’s not like I’m lonely or anything!

How’s your day been?

Good, good. And you, commander? Gotta say I’m not used to dinner being this early, but hey, stomach’s growling and I smell something nice. So here’s hoping that a “good” day turns into a “great” day, haha.

What’s a good day? I slept in late. Soaked in the tub for an hour and got a great brunch. Then Sculpin and I built that fish tank expansion we always talked about and I got her Argonauts a few new Argonaut buddies (though I think one might have been a Nautilus… I’m not that good with sea critters). Went shooting with some of the girls from the Design Board – didn’t peg Lulu or Raleigh as a crack shot but they sure did better than me on the discs.

… It’s my day off. Hey, only workaholics like Pennsy spend every moment thinking about how to defend humanity, alright? Besides, I just got back yesterday. I’m gonna have to go out there again tomorrow. Sooner, if the little guys finish cooking up the next batch of mines.

Yeah… I think I’ve seen enough of the sea for a while. Yes, laugh if you want, but it gets awfully lonely in the depths. The submariners at least have each other for company, but us subgirls? It’s not like the little guys can talk or anything…

My, that’s not what I’m getting at. You don’t have to call me. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself *snickers.* Besides, what are we going to talk about? I’m pretty boring compared to the colorful bunch we’ve got back home. It’d be a pretty one-sided conversation unless you want to hear me count the fishies that pass by or something.

… I’m really much better if you just talk instead. Yeah. Better listener than talker. I know any relationship’s give and take, but I just, y’know, don’t know how to start a conversation sometimes. I mean, hmm. What would my handsome commander want to hear about today? Golly gee, current events? Yeah, the four girls in the Intel division consumes enough media that I bet they can run the New York Times and the National Review outta business at the same time if they wanted to. I don’t follow sports. I really don’t play all that much either. Nautilus keeps on egging me on to find a “non-productive” hobby but I’m just not entirely sure which one I’d really enjoy.

I mean, I’m pretty happy, really. I don’t want more excitement in my life. Heck, you know what I want? I kinda miss the old days. Before Avalon. Before the fairies took care of all the grunt work. Before tech & fairy magic smoothed out all the kinks and turned STEC from a ragtag bunch of plucky ad-hoc elements into this beautifully sleek machine of counter-abyssal operations today.

… You ever need a personal maid, sir? Honestly. Don’t send me state-side for my next extended vacation. Just let me … I dunno, dust the shelves or sweep the floors or peel potatoes or something. Alright?

Aw, you’re a dear too. Thanks. I feel a little embarassed now…

What do you think of our preparation for the incoming Abyssal War?

I don’t have anything to complain about, actually. I think we’re doing all the right things. Just gotta ramp up the production.

Actually, now that you mention it. You know when they hit we’re going to be the first thing they try to take out. I’m not entirely sure if the direction we’re taking Avalon’s own design is necessarily what I’d pick. Not too fond of stealth if you get my drift. It relies on the bad guys not finding us, but I’m not sure if it’s gonna work well for us if they figure out how to crack our concealment tech.

I’d like it much better if we shifted additional manpower into developing area denial or purely defensive countermeasures instead. Concealment and intelligence and rapid deployment is good and all, but nothing beats an old fashioned beating in my opinion. Plus, we’ve got a lot of eggs in this basket and I think we absolutely need to start spread it out. Those planned Battle Platforms’ll help. So do the other stuff we’ve got rolling down the pipeline. Then there’s stuff like Project Trinity. Hoo, wow.

Like I said, I don’t have anything to complain about. Besides, that’s the nature of leadership. It’s your job to make the big calls, not me, heh.

Does your gun work under water?

Believe it or not, sir, it does!

However, it makes far more sense to use it on the surface as a close-quarters combat weapon. Honestly while my equipment appears suitable for surface warfare it still makes more sense for me to remain under water. After all, a lot of the problems that plagued the actual submarines don’t completely transfer over to us shipgirls.

Tell me a bit about your namesake.

Tautau’s done a pretty good job covering the design of the Argonaut in one of her sub corners. As far as the actual Argonaut goes, I think we need to be fair in our assessment of her performance.

“If a fleet boat were stripped of one battery, two engines, six torpedo tubes, and could use no more than 15 degrees of rudder, she would still have greater torpedo attack and evasion ability than Argonaut.”

Hey, don’t look at me. Richard O’Kane said that, not me.

Purely, objectively, statistically, mathematically, she was at best a mediocre ship. The seaworthiness of that ship was never that great, and if my memories – or should I say, the memories of the crew of the Argonaut – is correct, the ship simply wasn’t a good working environment. Her outdated construction and outdated weaponry gave her no conceivable advantages in battle, and even the refits didn’t really do much for her. Having that TDC might have helped a ton during her initial patrol, but that’s if – and that’s a big if – she could get herself into position to begin with.

I mean, she was supposed to be a minelayer, right? Well, she never laid a mine. All that gear was taken out right before the Makin Raid and she wasn’t even much of a transport submarine. Conditions were just downright nasty with all that humidity and most of the Marine Raiders got violently seasick.

Yeah. The Argo was not a Wahoo or a Tautog or a Flasher or Rasher. She had three war patrols. A maiden voyage that yielded no damage whatsoever to the enemy. A transportation mission the effects of which historians still debate to today. Her last journey was basically a valiant last stand against five Japanese ships that caught her as she tried to do her duty.

… and to think that her torpedoes prematurely detonated before reaching the Japanese destroyers. The poor Argonaut didn’t even get a good hit in because of faulty equipment, commander, and a hundred and two men died on that day. It would be the worst loss of life any single US submarine ever suffered during the war.

Those are the facts of the submarine Argonaut. An ordinary reader would stop here. To them, the Argonaut was nothing more than a machine of war. A weapon. A means to an end.

But, commander. The Silent Service was an entirely voluntary force. Consider this for a second. You were not eligible for the submarine service unless you passed with excellent qualifications. It was – and still is – extraordinarily hard to become a submariner. The emphasis is on doing right and doing well is far more important than your rank. Wearing the Dolphin is no joking matter, sir. To have that on you uniform meant that you belonged to a brotherhood of the Navy’s finest. It means that everyone else on that submarine trusts you well enough to leave the fate of their lives in your hands – if it have to come to that.

The men of the Argonaut could have been assigned to any other submarine and I bet you they would have thrived. But, fortune brought them to the Argonaut.

War is war, commander. Not everyone get to come home.

But war is what they signed up to do, and her men fought on to the end. Would you call a firefighter who died putting out fires a wasted life? How about police officers who died responding to an active threat?

No? Then I think you have your answer.

To the men of the Argonaut we simply say, they remain on eternal patrol.

(Full body art re-uploaded on 4/11/20 here)