Always Listen to Your Fellow Crew Members

A recollection of Robert “Bob” M. Knowles, as printed in the USS Irex newsletter, Oct 2008

When I first reported aboard Irex in Key West, I was a young, freshly minted LTJB, fresh and quite taken with the exhalted status.

Following a long night on the beach, saluting the many bars on Duval Street in Key West, I was the officer of the deck the next morning when we departed the dock. We were to exercise with the destroyers in their anti-sub training.

Our Captain, Bud Ward, was a wily veteran of several war patrols commanding Guardfish, and so the in cans were rarely successful unless we purposely waved the periscope at them. The docking basin was a large U-shaped affair as it is today, with the outlet to port as one proceeds out to sea.

In any event, as we stood down the basin, in my somewhat hung-over state, I confidently gave the command, “Right full rudder”.

Fox, the Quarter Master, who had the helm, repeated “Left full rudder—the rudder is left full, sir”. I then realized that fellow Bay Stater Foxy had saved my bacon; right full rudder would have taken us crashing into the sea wall.

The subsequent court-martial would have terminated my naval career prematurely. The moral of the story is “Heed the designated driver. He knows the way better than you do.”

R. M. Knowles (1946-1947)

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