Bess spoke. “Maybe one of them should make a run over to Crocodile Island.”
“I’ll see to it,” the captain promised. “It would only take a few minutes.” Then he teased, “But that periscope you saw had better be there!”
They passed a building where students learned how to read sonar, and another containing advanced undersea weaponry, which was used as a teaching facility for the naval personnel.
“We have a great course here in underwater swimming and diving,” the officer stated. “Some of the men later go into deep-sea diving work. You’ve probably seen pictures of them on television.”
All the girls said they had and were fascinated by the sea life the pictures showed.
Bess commented, “But some of those creatures are too dangerous for me!”
The captain laughed. Then Nancy asked if by any chance there was a nuclear submarine in port.
“No, there isn’t,” he replied. “Just one of the older types. Would you like to go into it and have a look?”
“I’d love to,” Nancy replied, and George and Bess wanted to, also.
When they reached it, a sailor standing on the deck saluted his superior officer. Captain Townsend offered to show the girls the interior.
The hatch was open and he led the way down the iron ladder to the deck below. As the girls gazed ahead, they noticed a long, narrow, center passageway.
George remarked, “I never saw so many things in such a tiny space. This is like a small apartment with a whole crew living in it!”
“And everything is so neat!” Bess added. “If I could keep my room like this, my mother would be very happy.”
Nancy was interested in the crews’ quarters. One bunk was perched high above a tremendous black tube. As Captain Townsend saw her eyeing it, he asked, “How would you like to sleep on top of a torpedo?”
“I wouldn’t!” she replied.
The “kitchen” intrigued Bess. Every inch of the galley was used, and the equipment, including stove and refrigerator, was so compact that it amazed the visitors. She asked how many men could be served from such small quarters.
“Of course that depends on the size of the sub,” the captain replied. “I think this one carries a complement of about thirty men.”
As the visitors proceeded, Nancy inquired about the many upright lockers. “What is kept in them?”
Captain Townsend opened one. It was full of coiled rope, most of it hanging on hooks.
Another sailor’s locker held work clothes. Nancy could see several M-16 rifles in slots behind the clothing. She wondered why they were on a sub that used only torpedoes. “Perhaps the men carry them when they’re on land,” she thought.
The officer said that the sub contained a ship-to-shore telephone. “Nancy, would you like to call someone?”
“Oh, yes,” she replied. “I’ll phone Mr. Cosgrove. Maybe you’d like to speak to him.”
The captain placed the call and spoke to his old friend, then he handed the instrument to Nancy. Mr. Cosgrove said, “An important call came for you.”
“Oh!” she said. “From home?”
“No, from your friend Ned Nickerson.” Nancy could feel her face reddening. “He and Burt and Dave would like to come down here and see you. Ned said he’d call again for an answer. Mrs. Cosgrove and I would be happy to have them stay with us.”
Bess and George were excited by the news. It would be such fun to see the boys again!
Captain Townsend said they must leave now as it was time for the crewmen to return and go through a drill.
The visitors climbed topside and went to the car. After the girls had thanked the captain profusely and left him at his home, Nancy drove off.
On the way to the Cosgroves, she said, “I have an idea. How about the boys staying with Mr. Gonzales instead of at the Cosgroves? Gimler and Sacco don’t know them, so Ned, Burt, and Dave might pick up some good tips.”
The other girls liked the idea, so Nancy drove to Mr. Gonzales’s club. They all walked inside. The man at the desk recognized Nancy and said, “Miss Boonton, are you looking for Mr. Gonzales?”