Subsection: The Examination for Lieutenant Up Subsection: The Examination for Lieutenant Subsection: HMS Javelin 

9 September 2017

The Sublieutenants return to BRNC to prepare for their Lieutenancy, and consider how they want to start specialising. Stark is going for the staff track, with comments on “getting it out of the way as soon as possible”; Fleming is trying to straddle the EW/Comms and Informatics courses, and having some success.
Spot has become remarkably popular.
The training starts with Command, Leadership, Management and Ethos, with various situational questions (“suddenly all the sailors’ quarterly performance evaluations in your department are below par; how do you investigate?”; or locals attacking the governor’s security party; or a ship suddenly missing). It goes on with Staff and Communication Skills including Defence Writing, Strategic Studies, Maritime (Tactical) Studies, and Joint Studies (combined operations with ground forces).
The “library group” of Morrish, Gretton and Stark gets back together (minus Stratton of course).
There are several tactical exercises in virtual space; most of them involve leading a department aboard a simulated battleship.
Gretton has an engineering department with reactors shutting down; the enlisted crew are used to the safeties going off spontaneously (there’s a Manufacturer’s Note, written by company lawyers). While the departmental exec is investigating #1, #2 shuts down – normally they’ve reset #1 by the time this happens. The ship can get by on battery power, for now. Resetting #2 leads to an immediate trip. The exec sees excessive corrosion in one of the components of the containment on #1, and reckons four hours to replace with a spare.
Resetting #1 leaves it running. #2 has similar corrosion. Gretton notices that these reactors were last serviced at different times, as is quite usual, but they’re showing the same type of failure. Morrish looks through the logs in more detail; they’re mostly in order, and serial numbers match up. It does seem to have been the same contractors working on both reactors, local to the posting; and the parts in question appear, on examination, to have been built to corrode themselves.
While they’re swapping in the replacement part, there’s a contact alert: three heavy cruisers looking hostile. Morrish does an excellent job of encouraging the repair crew by pointing this out. There’s time to do a quick fix on #1 as well; in the engagement, that’s the one that fails (since the spares are also sabotaged, and Gretton is slightly down-checked for not examining them in the large amount of time he obviously had available), but #2 is solidly on-line and the ship’s able to survive.
Keene’s on a helm exercise, tight fleet manoeuvres in a many-on-many combat with degraded sensors due to EW and gas giant proximity. He recommends a course that skims close round moons and might provide a bit of a surprise to the enemy, which gives significant tactical advantage – the actual pilot does a remarkably good job too.
Gretton gets an informatics post, where the food dispensers suddenly start producing garam and won’t stop until powered off. Tracking this down involves a complex chain of dependencies and the code sequences on civilian ships’ transponders, which is low-sensitivity information and can be used as a trigger. Another, longer, code fragment seems to be set up to knock out the sensors. There’s nothing obviously amiss in the ship’s code, which turns out to be a parallel sabotage (multiple pieces of code replaced during the same clock cycle); some of it’s signed by Fleming.
Morrish has a picket ship, with nothing happening for simulated-weeks. (He runs drills, changing things around to keep the crew at least slightly interested.) Then there’s a sudden medium-mass transit through the jump point, unknown design, no transponder; they return the hail with coherent energy. Morrish gets off a report, and evades, heading off-axis from the main line of advance, then sneaking back in through the degraded sensor cone caused by the drive flares to prosecute a theoretically survivable, but in practice not, attack on one of the invaders.
There’s a live exercise next, a lightsail cargo carrier with a crew of forty, and an asteroid course to run over the space of several days. Findlay’s captain, with Keene as XO, Gretton engineering, and Morrish on helm and navigation. Things start off smoothly, if slowly.
After a few days one of the crew reports that the Chief beat him up. Keene takes a medical look and confirms that he’s damaged, then informs the Captain (who checks for other incidents; there are some notes of injury that might be relevant, but no prior complaints). Keene talks with the Chief, who explains wearily that the rating was “space-happy” and trying to cut loose the sail; it won’t happen again, nothing for the officers to worry about. Keene suggests strongly that the Captain will be keeping an eye out, and the Chief should make sure nothing untoward is reported.
Uniform cameras seem to have failed the last maintenance inspection (and haven’t been replaced, and can’t readily be repaired). Findlay takes a look at the pattern of injuries; none of them is serious, and most aren’t repeated, since after one or two incidents they transfer off. The Chief’s service record is carefully written, but does suggest that he’s gone through a succession of postings fairly rapidly just before he ended up here.
Findlay orders a snap inspection, looking for drink and drugs, starting with the area with a higher level of ketones in the atmosphere, and making sure the Chief is off-shift. There’s a still working off the rations; it’s doing a reasonably good job, but the output is still vile. Once that’s been dealt with, Morrish gives a heavy hint to the Chief that he should keep his nose clean, especially in front of the Exec. The crew is worked hard over the next few days.
Keene spots a sensor transient, a few thousand k away, unclassifiable but warmer than background. Pointing the sensors reveals nothing new; going active shows up an arguable contact. It can’t be large since there’s no shape resolution. It’s on a very similar course and speed, and might get down to around 500k at closest approach. After some consideration of the difficulty of rigging an extra sensor pickup on the front side of the sail, Findlay steers a little closer, and Keene takes another poke with the main sensors; there’s definitely something consistently there, not manoeuvreing, 3-4 metres long. Keene feels that a close-up inspection would be an excessive risk, and Findlay agrees; the incident is logged.
After the trip is complete, the object is revealed: a cross-shape of silvered plastic with a small battery, and very small writing on it: “This is a mine. You are now dead.”
It comes round to exam time. Morrish does very well on the leadership component; writing (more freeform than reports) and politics, which are the new elements for most of them, tend to be the weakest areas.
There’s also an interview board. Admiral Glyndower is here, apparently fully recovered, and asks Morrish: “You are given an order which, while it is legal, you believe will lead to damage in your department. When queried, your CO confirms the order. How do you act?” Morrish says he’ll follow the order; Glyndower mutters something about “Camperdown” ( but accepts the answer.
To Findlay: “How much initative should the commander of a vessel show when operating as part of a fleet?” He flounders a bit but comes up with an acceptable response.
To Keene: “The number of settled worlds is constantly expanding. Make a case for the battleship.” His argument is that such a vessel is ideal for planetary bombardment and conquest.
To Gretton: “What is the greatest challenge facing the Navy today?” He answers that it’s resource allocation, getting the needed strength to where it’s needed most of the time, something that’s always been a challenge for navies but is now a much larger one.
These four new lieutenants will all be posted to HMS Javelin, a Juno-class destroyer.
 Subsection: The Examination for Lieutenant Up Subsection: The Examination for Lieutenant Subsection: HMS Javelin