For regular visitors here, you may have seen some of my drawings from this memory of the first day of the ground war in Operation Desert Storm when Iraqi forces fired Silkworm anti-ship missiles at my ship. Here is a video that was recorded on 25 February 1991 around 0450 am.
This memory is forever embedded in my memory. If you have ever come face to face with your own mortality, perhaps through an accident or a close-call or, heaven forbid, the loss of a close loved one, you know these days.
I was deep inside of an armored WWII battleship. The plotting room is one of a battleship’s “vital organs” so to speak. It is the brains to the ship’s brawn, the 16″ guns. Without the computer equipment in this space, the ship cannot fight, so it is located deep inside the armored belt, right next to the engine spaces, meant to be safe from Japanese and German shells and torpedoes. Even so, with a missile bearing down on you and you can do nothing but stand there and take whatever is coming, you have to wonder if this could be the end?
Fortunately, our battlegroup had some missile destroyers along with us riding shotgun, and the HMS Gloucester shot down the one that came nearest to us. I’ll never forget the name of that ship either. (There is a lengthy article about the missile attack incident you can also read.)
Later in the video, you can see us putting on gas masks because we were warned that a gas attack was imminent. Missiles, now gas? At that point I was wearing a little protective box on my head, inside of a bigger protective box – the plotting room, inside of a bigger box – the armored belt, inside a still bigger box floating in the ocean – the battleship. Claustrophobia anyone?