Cowboys and Cossacks – 34

Written by: Scott Gemmill; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

Capt MacNamara of the USS Cayuga & Captain Grinkov of Russian warship Vasiliev have played a 10-year “macho” expensive game of “bumper cars with their ships,” ramming each others ships to see who could be first into the Sydney harbor etc. Now in a war game they did the same thing trying to enter the games area and collided. JAG officers Harm (H), Mac (M) and Bud (B) were assigned to “observe” the games but found they were to undergo an “officer trade” as observers. Harm asked MacNamara about the “damage” to his ship and was rebuffed. MacNamara arrogantly told him “you’ve only been on my ship 3 minutes and have ticked me off, let’s hope you do the same to Grinkov.”

Harm and Bud met the Russian second in command, Uri Kretchiak, who H recognized as a former forward on the Soviet Olympic hockey team. The Vasiliev was falling apart and had poor maintenance. Gas masks didn’t work when H had to help rescue some men from an explosion in the missile room where they were “loading missiles” – Kretchiak claimed it was only a drill. Grinkov told H that he had shot down his brother – as a “joke.” Bud got a hangover from all the toasts with vodka and apologized just in case he did anything wrong. Grinkov altered course to outside the legal area and when H declared a foul wouldn’t let him radio the Cayuga. Harm saw several sailors being clandestinely put off the boat in a raft at night. When pressed with his attempts to lie, Kretchiak admitted that they were the ones with children. Speaking of the ship, Kretchiak said “the scabbard is rusty but the blade is sharp.” Grinkov, he confided, was at end of his career and the Vasiliev was going to be dismantled after this voyage. He said that he considered Grinkov unstable and H convinced him that he had to take command. When they got weapons, B asked if this would be mutiny and H said “no, they would be considered terrorists.” They attempted to radio the Cayuga but were discovered in the attempt. Kretchiak reversed his plan on them and captured H and B. They were thrown in the brig as saboteurs.

MacNamara treated M abusively when she advised him that they should abandon the Vasiliev when it went out of bounds and rejoin his own fleet. He obsessively said he was going to take down the “cheater” Grinkov. Then when she pointed out his inappropriate behavior he banned her from the bridge. MacNamara was refusing to pick up the survivors in the raft, even when M was getting more forceful, until he was shamed into relenting. The Russian men wouldn’t talk about Grinkov or the ship. Finally one of the Russian exchange officers began taking a fancy to M while she was working out. Playfully, she told him “are you going to tell me about the raft and the men or am I going to have to beat it out of you?” They sparred and she was wiping the floor with him. Eventually, bruised, he told her that Grinkov was showing signs of dementia and the men had mutinied. MacNamara still wouldn’t listen to her to back off and went ahead with his simulated “kill” even though the Russian ship was out of bounds.

Then Grinkov launched two real missiles at the Cayuga which they were able to neutralize with their defensive weapons. MacNamara declared this “war” and retaliated with a missile despite Ms warnings and pleas about H and B. The Vasiliev was severely damaged and H and B were drowning in the brig. They were able to escape just as Kretchiak arrived to let them out. Harm again convinced him to take command, and “abandon ship” was ordered. Harm finally radioed the Cayuga and went alone to the missile room where Grinkov had armed the missiles. Grinkov told H that a sailors first duty in war was to “fight with honor, compassion and conviction. If one does that, even if he doesn’t win, his death is noble.” Harm talked him into waiting until his men were able to escape the ship because they didn’t deserve to die. When H convinced Grinkov that he wasn’t going to try and stop him from going down with his ship he let H go as well. “Tell MacNamara,” he asked H, “that I will miss the battles. We were never friends, but we were the best of enemies.” MacNamara had his ships company salute during the Vasiliev’s sinking. Seeing that, M told H that she was surprised. Harm told her that “some people value their enemies more than friends.” “Including you?” she asked. Harm replied, “need you ask?”

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