This one involves my dearest friend Ranjit Singh many years after the Ganga incident of KKK and NKM (Read; ‘We Take Callin On Rather Seriously’). Incidentally, Ranjit and I served on INS Ganga together.
But, the second one of the incidents is a second hand account by me.
I was posted as Commander Work-up in WWO (Warship Work-up Organisation) in Vizag after my Staff Course in Wellington. Ranjit was commanding a missile boat Prachand. My office was on the first floor of Fleet Office building overseeing the finger jetties whereat Ranjit’s ship was often berthed.
One afternoon, Ranjit sauntered into my office, his face flush and his usual ear-to-ear grin beaming like a lighthouse. I almost heard notes of Henry Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk, much popular during our days.
He lowered himself into a chair opposite mine and said, “Don’t ask me what happened today.”
It was 4 post meridiem and the fumes of beer emanating from him were enough to make me too a part of Henry Mancini’s famous tune. In any case, Ranjit was swaying even in his chair.
So, I dutifully asked him, “What happened RB?”
“I called on CO Kirpan: HSB. In fact he asked me to call on him”!
Kirpan class of ships were given to really hot and upwardly mobile officers of the rank of Commander. They, therefore, felt obliged to stay in the upper stratosphere. So, for CO Kirpan to descend to ground level and ask a mere CO Prachand (the older class of Missile Boats that we obtained from Russia; they have been known as Killers since the famous attack successfully carried out by them on Karachi harbour on 4th December 1971) was a mystery to me. Until Ranjit explained, that is.
Before that, for the sake of our civilian friends I must describe a gunnery firing at sea.
You can’t always fire your ship’s guns on a towed target where you can actually see the results. This is rather a cumbersome exercise to tow a target all the way to sea and then fire on it. It is easier to carry out an off-set firing on a ship as a target with the target ship observing the fall-of shots and reporting to the firing ships the corrections. The target ship, therefore also becomes the rake reporting ship. The codes used for reporting the falls of shots are: Straddle, if it is Bull’s Eye and other combinations such as Up 200, Right 100 and so on.
The rake reporting ship doesn’t do it simply by eye-ball estimate. It has a scale instrument to observe the splash of shots and then report on the circuit. This circuit is controlled by the Fleet Commander and a number of Straddle reports would naturally invite a Bravo Zulu (Well Done) signal from him for the firing ship.
Now, with Ranjit’s beer laced narrative, it came out that in the next EFXP (Eastern Fleet Exercise Programme) , Kirpan would be one of the firing ships and Ranjit’s ship Prachand would be the rake reporting ship. HSB had therefore asked Ranjit to call on him so that all his shots would be automatically reported as Straddle by Ranjit.
If Ranjit is to be believed, and there is no reason not to, every time a new can of Heineken was opened for him, he fervently shouted “Straddle” as if his rake reporting task had already begun.
After Ranjit left, I asked my coxswain to fetch the room spray and liberally use it in my office to get rid of the fumes before my boss would get the impression I was pissed on duty.
Bull’s Eye achieved by mere calling-on!
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