Kure Naval Base
Spread out through this base were a variety of ships including a number under construction but at one isolated corner was the Soryu in dry-dock undergoing repairs. Yard crews were working around the clock in a desperate move to have the ship fully repaired for the attack on Midway. The yard superintendant had informed Admiral Nagumo that he guaranteed it would be ready to leave with the rest of the fleet when the time came but along with good news there were some bad as well.
Soon after the Yamato had arrived she had been having some difficulty with her engines. At first the ships engineer had determined that the problem lied with incorrect level’s of hydraulic fluid within the system but as he and a number of the crew examined the problem it was discovered that it was the reduction gear for the port shaft. As the shaft turned a harsh grinding sound could be heard which to the engineer meant only that the gears were not properly aligned and would require several weeks or more in the yard to be repaired and since the ship was new replacement parts were not readily available and so one had to be made or taken from the Musashi or Shinano.
The ship’s captain somewhat irate at this news not only questioned the ship’s engineer why wasn’t this problem detected earlier but also the engineer’s ability to do his job. The engineer simply explained to his captain that such things happens at times and not always picked up during the break in period prior to commissioning and that it was better to have discovered it now than at sea where the ship’s speed would be reduced. Reluctantly he agreed but the decision as to where to get a new gear and when it would become available would not be up to him, this was a decision for someone much higher rank then he. He also knew that it was his duty alone to report this to Fleet Headquarters.
Less than 1 hour later he was on the phone talking with a Commander Mori discussing the situation and it was decided that this matter should be handled very delicately. After hanging up he had to make a decision as to whom to report this to but then thinking about it knew that sooner or later it would come to the attention of Admiral Yamamoto. His immediate superior was a Captain Ishii and so this was the first person that he would report it to luckily Captain Ishii was not one for formalities and had an open door policy to some of his staff.
Knocking on the door jamb of Captain Ishii’s office he entered and began to speak.
“Excuse me Captain but we have a problem”
“What sort of problem Commander?”
“Well sir it appears that there is an engineering problem with one of the Yamato’s drive shafts, actually it appears that one of the reduction gears on the port shaft”
Surprised by this bit of news his only response was “When was this discovered?”
“Not too long ago Captain, the way that it was reported to me was that the ships engineer had discovered a problem and thought that it at first was an hydraulic issue in that some of the systems were short of hydraulic fluid but on further inspection it turns out that one of the reduction gears were not properly aligned and were grinding with another”
“This should have discovered during the ships construction or at least during her trials”
“Yes sir I would agree but sometimes and I’m sure that you are aware of this certain problems take time to come to the surface and be discovered”
“True enough, how long does Captain Endo think it would take for repairs?”
“He’s uncertain as he stated it all comes down to availability. He told me that there were no replacements available at the yard but according to the yard superintendant we could remove one from either the Musashi or Shinano”
“What of the of the other ships in the class surely these gears were made already for the Settsu or Kyoto as their hulls have already been laid down?”
“I’m not sure Captain but I will check on it but shouldn’t someone inform Admiral Yamamoto first”
“Not a good idea Commander, not until we get a solution to the problem. In the meantime contact the yard superintendant at Kure and find out just how long it would take to make repairs on the Yamato once a replacement gear is procured and shipped to the yard. In the meantime I will contact Admiral Ugaki and inform him of the situation so at least he will know of it and what we are trying to do to get the ship ready for sea”
“Yes sir” with that said Commander Mori left his superiors office to begin making several phone calls all the time thinking that he was glad that it was not him reporting the problem.
Several hours later an after a number of phone calls he discovered that several reduction gears were in the process of being milled but it would be at least at a minimum of 2 weeks before they were ready. These gears were destined for the Kyoto but now one of them needed to replace the faulty gear of the Yamato and so an order was made to mill another. The work had to be precise when it came to these gears and so the construction of the Kyoto might be set back about a month but there was nothing that could be done. The ship building industry in Japan was not like that in either England or the US where there are many factories who can produce such gears. Here in Japan the work can only be done by a handful of facilities.
“Excuse me Captain Ishii” as Commander Mori entered his office “I’ve discovered that there is a possibility of a replacement gear barring we don’t remove the one from Musashi or Shinano. I made a few phone calls and found out that Yamashita Iron Works is in the process of milling reduction gears for the Settsu and Kyoto but availability won’t be for 2 weeks at least”
“I don’t know if it’s good news or bad commander because if we take what you told me into account and what I was told by the yard superintendant at Kure that it might be a month before repairs are made and another week before the Yamato can go out to sea. I will have to make another call to Admiral Ugaki and inform of this, it will be up to him when to tell Admiral Yamamoto. I just hope that there is no operation planned for the next 6 months or there will be hell to pay”
It didn’t take long for Commander Mori to imagine as he left Captain Ishii’s office what Admiral Yamamoto’s reaction might be and which officer will hang for this but he was glad once again that it wasn’t going to be him. Even though everyone knew that Admiral Yamamoto had a calm disposition everyone also knew that it didn’t take much to set him off if conditions warranted it and he knew that this situation just might set Admiral Yamamoto off.
About an hour later Admiral Ugaki knocked on Admiral Yamamoto’s door and as prepared as he could be under the circumstances. The Yamato and her sister ships were the pride of the Admiral and represented the power of the Imperial Japanese Navy so have one down so soon after it was commissioned would be a blow to both. Still he did not relish what he was about to inform Admiral Yamamoto.
“Excuse me Admiral Yamamoto but I’ve received word a few hours ago about an engineering issue with the Yamato’s but I didn’t want to bring it to your attention until I had a solution to the issue”
“What kind of issue are you talking about and is it serious?”
“Yes Admiral it is serious and might jeopardize the timetable for the Midway Operation. The chief engineer on the Yamato during an inspection of the ships engines had heard some noises which he initially attributed to low hydraulic pressure in the system but when he checked all fluid levels were correct but upon closer examination with a few of the ships engine room personal discovered what was thought to noise from the hydraulics to actually be grinding noises. It took some time to thoroughly inspect every area of the engine rooms but eventually they discovered that the portside reduction gears were misaligned and grinding”
“Why wasn’t this discovered earlier?”
“Unknown Admiral but the chief engineer suspects that somehow the gears slipped out of alignment during ships trials and didn’t become evident until now”
“Could they be repaired?”
‘Unfortunately no Admiral Yamamto they will have to be replaced but there are none readily available at the moment. A commander Mori at the Kure Navy Yard made some phone calls and discovered that some were being milled at the Yamashita Iron Works Company for the Settsu and Kyoto but the first ones won’t be available for at least another 2 weeks and once they are and shipped to Kure it will take another 2 weeks to replace the older ones. This of course means that the Yamato won’t be available for at least a month and that new gears will have to be milled for the Kyoto which will add additional time to her completion probably in the order of 40 days”
Looking at Yamamoto’s expressions as he spoke to him Admiral Ugaki knew this didn’t sit well with the Admiral. This delay will tie of forces that could be used for other operations but it would be Yamamoto’s decision as what to do in the end”
“Alright Matome keep me informed of progress of the Yamoto’s repairs and until she is fit to go to sea until we will have to shift gears. Inform the staff to make plans for the Port Moresby operation”
“At once Admiral, will there be anything else?”
“Yes, send for my car I wish to return home for the next few days”
“At once” Admiral Ugaki replied before he turned and left Yamamoto’s office. It just took him seconds to realize that Yamamoto took the news surprisingly well.
Admiral Rearson normally not one to take time off for himself or even go on liberty decided that for this occasion he would invite his brother Joseph for a nice quiet evening. He initially wanted to take his younger brother to dinner at the base’s officer’s club but then thought the better of it as by this time he was somewhat known and was concerned that his dinner would be disturbed a few times so he decided to meet his brother at Leilani Seafood Restaurant considered the best seafood restaurant in the islands. To avoid being noticed for a naval officer and an admiral at that he decided to wear civvies for the evening. This evening he was dressed a little casual as the restaurant had no dress code.
Dinner was originally scheduled for 1900 but he arrived about 30 minutes to get some drinks at the bar while waiting for his brother to arrive. His favorite drink of choice was surprisingly not beer but a Tequila Sunrise which he had ordered 2 before his brother had arrived. But in the meantime while taking a sip from his first he looked around the bar and the restaurant itself. There was the normal customer base at both places but the evening was still young and the bartender a man of his early 40’s told the admiral that the good clientele normally arrives at 8PM including many of the attractive island’s socialites. This kind of peaked his interest just a bit as he had been pretty involved in his career for some time that he had avoided being around women.
Just about finishing his second drink his brother had walked in and joined him at the bar and also ordered a drink but the younger Rearson’s drink of choice was beer so he ordered a Budweiser. Shortly after getting their drinks the young hostess took them to their table and handed both of them some menu’s. As they glanced through it both were surprised that they also had grilled steaks on the menu as well as beef BBQ ribs. It didn’t take long for both of them to both decide on what they wanted. Admiral Rearson ordered a 12oz New York Strip smothered in onions and mushrooms with a side of a baked potato and corn. His brother Joseph always fond of beef ribs ordered the ribs also with a baked potato and green beans. For an appetizer they both opted for a simple garden salad.
“Hello Bobby what’s the news?”
“War wise you know as much as I do but I’ve been thinking about what the Japanese are planning next”
“Have any ideas?”
“I do but for security reasons I can’t tell you at least here but I can say there are a number that do trouble me Jack”
“In what way Bobby?”
“Well let’s say that we might be mired into a protracted battle wherever the Japs strike, but where not here to talk about the war. We’re here to celebrate?”
“Don’t play dumb Jack you know damn well what I’m talking about, you being assigned as captain on the Hawaii[/I/] congrats on that”
“Thanks but I thought I was on the short list to take command of the [I]Boston?”
“That you were at least prior to Wake but certain individuals in Washington decided that perhaps you should get something with a little more firepower under your butt”
“Who? Admiral Stark, King”
“Both actually and it was blessed by both the President and Secretary of the Navy”
“Wow four aces”
“Yes Jack you see I recommended you for the post. Thought it was high time you join me with the big boys but there is one caveat and that is I cannot have you under my command”
“But I was already Bobby at Wake”
“Yes I know and that was brought to my attention by Admiral Nimitz a few days after arriving back at Pearl”
“So if I’m not under you then who will I be under?”
“More than likely Admiral Lee”
“Admiral Lee, I’ve heard of him he has a reputation of doing the unexpected”
“Same rep I heard”
Engrossed in the conversation they didn’t notice the waitress arrive.
“Excuse me gentlemen I have your orders. For you sir New York Strip, medium rare; side of baked potato and corn and for you a plate of BBQ beef ribs also with a side of baked potato and green beans. Please enjoy your meals and if either of you need anything don’t hestitate to call me”
“Alright miss, by the way what is your first name we kind of forgot?”
“Ok Kalani but I don’t think we will be calling you for anything except for a couple more drinks as this food looks delicious”
“Oh! My name is Robert but my friends call me Bobby and that individual smothering those ribs is my brother Jack”
“Nice meeting both of you”
“Thanks by the way you look awfully young to be working here”
“How old would you say that I am?”
“Everyone pretty much say the same thing I’m actually 27”
“27 you don’t look it”
“It kind of runs in my family all the women look years younger than they are”
“Hey Bobby let the girl get back to work she has other customers you know, you don’t want her to get into trouble now do you?”
“Yeah your right Jack, listen Kalani I’m sorry that too much of your time talking”
“Please don’t think anything of it Bobby I kind of enjoyed it”
With that said she walked over to another of her tables to deal with other guests.
“Interested brother, she is attractive and I suspect very single”
“Yes she is attractive but there may not be time for socializing”
“The war dummy that’s why”
“Listen Bobby there’s always time for the ladies and a little romance, just forget the war for awhile and enjoy life”
“Perhaps your right Jack we’ll see”
As they were finishing their meals and were waiting for the check 2 extremely gorgeous blondes walked in at sat at the bar and ordered some drinks. The bartender got Jack’s attention and pointed the young ladies out.
“Hey brother take a look at those hot looking woman at the bar, let’s say we go over and introduce ourselves and see where it goes”
Not wanting to place second fiddle to his younger brother Admiral Rearson got up and “said ok let’s see what happens”
“Great” was his brothers response
A short time later they were at the bar and introduced themselves but as they did both he and his brother noticed that they were identical twins. Soon it felt as though they had known each other for awhile. As the conversation progressed and more drinks were ordered it turns out that the young woman were the daughters of one of the sugar cane plantation owners and they’re family lived in Hawaii for over 120 years. Like misjudging Kalani’s age they misjudged the age of the young women in fact they could be considered girls for they both were 21.
But the girls whose names were Karen and Sarah Cooper kind of figured out that Admiral Rearson and his brother were both military officers, not only that but they knew right from the start they were much older than them but tonight it didn’t matter as they were getting along and having a great time. About 30 minutes after introducing themselves to each other they decided to call it an evening and took a cab down to Waikiki Beach. The sisters took off their shoes and waded through the surf enticing the Rearson brothers to join them which did after removing their socks and shoes and rolling up their pants.
Time seem to go by slowly for all as they were really having a great time and it wasn’t long before they paired up, Admiral Rearson walked with Karen and his brother was at the side of Sarah. It didn’t take long for both couples to begin holding hands while walking closer to together and soon the barriers came down as they began to kiss. It was 3AM in the morning when the girls said that they had to leave and so Jack called for a taxi but while they waited for it to arrive their conversations began to get a little personal.
The sisters admitted that neither were in a relationship as both were waiting for the right men to come along and the brothers pretty much said the same thing but were both unsure if it would happen considering the war and all. They also admitted their correct ages but the sister’s weren’t bothered by this fact and was hoping that this friendship would continue and so without any hesitation they all shared addresses with each other and the girls gave up their phone numbers. As the taxi finally arrived and before the girls got in Admiral Rearson and his brother took their respective dates and proceeded to kiss them long and hard. This the girls didn’t resist and privately was hoping that this would happen. A few minutes the taxi was gone and Admiral Rearson and his brother Jack were alone on the beach and as they looked at each other they smiled”
“Well Bobby what do you think of the evening, you must admit that we had a great time and with 2 young and very beautiful women. Not only that we have their addresses and phone numbers to boot”
“Well Jack I hate to admit it but I had a fantastic time one that I was getting a little to hold for and speaking of old it seems that Karen and Sarah weren’t phased a bit to find out our age”
“Yeah I noticed that but I think that they genuinely like us”
“I got the same feeling Jack but we’ll have to see what happens in the upcoming months”
“Guess your right Bobby but please don’t ruin the moment with any doubts”
“I’m not doubting just being realistic but I do have one thing to say”
“Man what I wouldn’t do to see Karen again”
“In love Bobby? You don’t have to answer because I feel the same way and if things turn out right we might have just met our future brides”
With that said they both smiled as they called for another cab and headed back to Pearl.