By Rev. R. C. "Louie" Lewis, USN, 1966-1970
"It is said that ships take on a life of their own. That may not be true in the strictest sense of the word, but I believe it to be true in an emotional sense. A ship sets up its own rhythm with the sea. It has its own noises, and I swear it develops its own personality. If you've served at sea, you truly know what I am saying."
Yep! Like sailors of old, in the days of the iron men and wooden ships, we often referred affectionately to huge, iron, bathtub-like 'steel' floating on water as "her" or "she." Left to herself, she would drift as a hulk to a ravaged demise by a relentless sea.
It was the men that manned her who made her a worthy vessel. She would keep us afloat on an inhospitable ocean, where alone one would quickly succumb to the sea. This floating steel would mother us, keep us dry when it was wet and warm when it was cold, keep food for when we were hungry, and move us through water that alone we could only flounder in.
We would take on her sea-worthy personality, hard and defiant. And she, in turn, would take on the personality of the seaman that sailed her. Yet like her, we knew we were still at the mercy of the sea. It was her strong keel and our will to defy the sea that bonded us as one against the oceans.
She could be as gentle as an old mare in calm seas or as wild as a stallion under the cinch of a cowboy in a raging storm. She would shine with polished brass for ceremonies and sail proudly and stately under the flag of command. She could be as meek as a school girl when called upon as a diplomat or be a raging man-of-war in combat! We were proud when we put her through her paces, sleek and fast. Quick as a cutting edge and sleek like a viper. We relaxed in her roughed comfort on calm seas and were humbled when she brought us through a typhoon.
She was a goddess and a devil. And we were the men that sailed her!
Is that personality?