We were underway for Midway Island . Once there, we were to await further orders. About half way there, we were ordered to return to Hawaii at flank speed, (5 knots) for a sea-going rescue tug (ATR 53).
We no sooner anchored at the submarine base when a yard tug with a barge loaded with all kinds of metals and welding gear in tow pulled alongside. With the barge tied up, out of the yard tug a sailor climbed aboard with his seabag and top secret orders. He was E.C. Brogan, Specialist X 1/C. He smartly snapped off a salute to the Union Jack and then to the EXO and handed his orders over boldly marked TOP SECRET in red.
Turns out, Brogan was formerly a Bosuns Mate second class, before he becams a Spec X. Now, as some will remember, Spec A was for Athletics, Spec Y was for control tower operator, etc., all stuff the Navy needed for wartime only, they thought. Now Spec X covered a variety of skills, like interpreter, stuff that there was a call for ,but not many. Brogan was a Cushmaker. Cushmaker? We asked what that meant and he said it was top secret.
Before you know it, the Chief Bosn had a tarp set in a circle on the aft deck and the a steel rope winched off the boon down in the center of the circle. You couldn't see a thing of what was going on. Nobody. except Brogan, the Skipper and the EXO could go inside. To make sure no one got in, three guards armed with 45s stood watch, 4 on, 8 off, 24/7, much better than 4 on , 4 off, 24/7 ,when underway.
While we couldn't see what was going on, we did hear a lot of banging ,the hiss of the welding torch and the whirr of a buffer. This went on for three weeks. Several of the ship's cats died out of curiosity, the bookmakers were taking bets on what the 'thing' was and one guy didn't take a hardship discharge just so he'd be there when the secret was exposed.
Finally, the great day dawned and right at 0800 the whole crew was assembled in whites, out of dungarees for a change. The covering tarp was taken down and suspended on the end of the cable was a shiny orb that had about a 9 ft diameter. It was a thing of beauty that reflected the rising sun with a brilliance that was near eye aching. Brogan requested the Bosun to winch it up about 5 ft., so it would clear our port rail. With that done. the boon was swung over the port side, and winched up some 20 ft. over the water, with the boon slightly bent from the weight.
We waited. Finally, Brogan hollered, "Let 'er go!" Down it came ,hitting the water with a magnificent splash that made our deck go awash and making that incomparable sound of cuuuuuuuuush. That's what Brogan, Specialist X I/C (Cushmaker moc) did to shorten the war in the Pacific.