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Literature / Silent Ship, Silent Sea

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Kelsey Deveraux who thinks himself bound for officer candidate school is instead assigned by a whim of the bureaucracy to the destroyer USS Caron. Then he is sent to Guadalcanal where the Caron is hit and crippled. The Caron's engines are knocked out and it is forced to ride the ocean current to Australia.

Meanwhile Deveraux is put through a classic "coming of age aboard ship". He is bullied by one Chief (Ruddy), he is befriended by a mechanic Jesse Woodham. And he is taught by the distant but benevolent captain how to be a good sailor.


This is a typical fifties teenage war-story of the type written by Robb White. It is well written and entertaining. It is probably more idealistic then cynic, but it is not so idealistic that one can quite accuse it of saying War Is Glorious . At least if it does, it doesn't say "war is fun" in any case.

Tropes in this work:

  • A Father to His Men: The Captain of the Caron
  • A Friend in Need: Jesse, also the captain.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: another way of looking at the reason Kelsey is aboard the Caron and strongly implied.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Jesse has this toward Kelsey
  • The Bully: Ruddy's bullying goes beyond the mere instrumental bullying of a Drill Sergeant Nasty and in fact is really borderline criminal.
  • The Captain: The Captain of the Caron
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Ruddy
  • Father Neptune: Jesse Woodham
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  • Flashback: There are a couple of these
  • Honor Before Reason: They stay with the ship and ride it to Australia.
  • Improvised Weapon: one time the Caron is taken under tow by a Japanese ship who intends to salvage them thinking them abandoned(it almost is, The Captain had put most of his men ashore on a deserted island hoping to come back) . The launching mechanism for the torpedoes are out. So by some seaman's trick, a rigging was set for the Japanese ship to pull the torpedoes toward itself.
    • It was placed on a bunk mattress and affixed to the tow line. The tow line was then cut on the Carey side, with the Captain betting that the Japanese Captain would haul in the line rather than waste supplies.
  • In Medias Res: Begins this way
  • Mr Fix It: Jesse
  • New Meat: Kelsey
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: subverted for Kelsey as he was might not have made a good fit for OCS anyway so they accidentally got it right.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: The Captain of the Caron
  • The So-Called Coward: A rather blatant example. In the middle of a battle Kelsey actually shouts "Abandon ship" because he saw it in a movie. After that, he is nicknamed "abandon ship" until he proves himself.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself
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  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines