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I am innocent I tell you
by Bob Moore
June 2001

I didn't really mean to do it.

If anyone was to blame, it was the Navy, because who else would demand that humble sailors perform tasks for which they are not, at the moment, physically fit. It isn't really my fault that the Captain found it necessary to speak to the OD, and I don't really see why the OD had to pass his remarks on to the COB. Now that I think about it, it was the COBs' fault in the first place, because he is the one that taught me to do it, and he is the one who suggested that I haul my salty young body up on deck for the maneuvering watch, and never mind that it was twenty below.

The Thames was frozen over to a depth of several inches, and our progress was accompanied by those weird sounds ice makes when violated by a ship.

We slowly made our way up to the base and turned for the pier. That is when the trouble started. It was my habit to take the OD at his word when the order came down to "Put 'em over when you can". To me that meant when there was one foot less water to cross than I had heaving line in my hand. Back in sunny Norfolk I could drop the monkey fist between the rubbing timber and the pier eight times out of ten, and the other two were always long, never short. So you see that it was completely understandable that I, in my zeal to make it look like we knew what we were doing, let fly at extreme range. It didn't help any that whoever was in charge of such things had foolishly decided that we should come alongside one of our sisters instead of taking up valuable open pier space, so he has to share the responsibility for the unfortunate, and purely accidental, incident which followed.

I swear I was just joking when I was overheard to say something to the effect of "Watch that plaque." All I wanted to do was drop the fist over the life line near the plaque. It wasn't my fault that my hands were numb and the line slipped a little. Who would ever have thought that they made those things out of plaster anyway? I swear you would have thought I'd busted the sail off it, what with all the whooping and hollering going on over there.

Yeah, there is plenty of blame for the poor deck ape who, purely by misfortune mind you, misses a throw and breaks the ship's plaque from a sister submarine's sail..