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The Chiefs (1976)

Don Stokes

Sound | 1976

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  •  SPEAKER 1: The ship is expected to get underway at 0900. All divisions make ready to get underway reports to the bridge.  
  •  SPEAKER 2: Main Control, this is Chief [inaudible], reporting 8th Division manned and ready to get underway. 
  •  CHIEF SMITH: Bridge, this is Chief Smith from Medical Department. We are manned and ready to get underway. 
  •  SPEAKER 3: Squadron Department is ready to get underway. 
  •  SPEAKER 4: Electrical Division is ready to get underway. 
  •  SPEAKER 5: DP Central reporting, manned and ready to get underway. 
  •  NARRATOR: Her name is USS California, the sixth Navy Ship to bear the name. She first left this port under sail a century ago. Now, the old sloop’s name sake sails from Norfolk—powered not by the wind but by the atom. Her designation cruiser, but the only thing old about her is the name. She is the first of a new class of nuclear-powered service ships; 11,000 tons of the most sophisticated systems yet designed by man. Her crew, 28 officers and 512 enlisted men. Among them is a small company of men without whom California could not make its first major voyage. Some say they are rugged individualist who sail their own course, others say they are the backbone of the Navy—probably they are both. They are the chief petty officers, the chiefs, and this is their story.  
  •  SPEAKER 6: Titular 2-7-0. Cape Henry 3-2-5. Okay. Take these two and get aN omega, radar compare, let’s get them all together. I don’t think there is a problem. Thank you very much.  
  •  NARRATOR: California clears the harbor and reaches out toward the open seas. Ahead lies the Caribbean and her first real challenge as a ship of the line. There are questions to be answered: How will her new systems perform? How will her crew performs? The questions will be answered soon on the high seas. 
  •  This is the chief’s mess, no one would dare enter this inner sanctum without knocking, not the newest seaman, not the captain, such is the respect these men have earned. The Chief is the highest ranking enlisted man in the Navy, at the top of his profession. Aboard ship, he occupies a position between the crew and the officers—he is a conduit between the two, indispensable to both. If a ship were a corporation, the chief would be middle management, and just as middle management runs the day-to-day affairs of the corporation, the chief runs the ship. 
  •  Strangely enough, there is no written document that defines the unique role of a chief in the Navy, his role for 200 years has been guided by tradition, common sense, and the constantly changing needs of his men and his officers. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: We leave the watch on deck. Condition four, one, six, and two. 
  •  NARRATOR: Master Chief Quarter Master Kenneth Kimble, the assistant navigator. Although he never went to navigation school, he has mastered his profession through self-study and experience and has taught it to many of the officers now on the fleet. When California’s Captain was assigned to the ship he went looking for Kimble, found him, and brought him aboard to sail with him. Chief Kimble is one of the few enlisted men on the Navy qualified to be officer of the deck on a ship of this class. 
  •  CHIEF KIMBLE: My duties as a Chief involves the processes and the turning evolution of, in some cases, seniors, most cases, juniors, trying to train somebody someday will follow along in my place. My job as a navigator is to keep the ship off the rocks, avoid collision, and I train my people to the extent professionally that they can do the same. 
  •  NARRATOR: Lieutenant Lewis A. Nick Jr., navigator of the cruiser California. When he was an ensign, Chief Kimble was his instructor in navigation school, now together, they get the ship where she needs to go.  
  •  LIEUTENANT NICK: Everybody who was on the offs of the deck learns navigation by watching people do it and by practicing it. Chief Kimble is the man to watch and he is the man to learn from. Officers are—particularly junior officers, are most dependent on chiefs to teach them everything that they can ever learn about technical parts of operating a ship. The things that they learn that makes them good officers they learn from chiefs.  
  •  NARRATOR: Captain Floyd H. Miller Jr., commanding officer of California, known by his men as one of the best ship drivers in the Navy—one of his chiefs said, “There are two skippers in the Navy I’d sail to the bottom with, this captain is one of them.” 
  •  CAPTAIN MILLER: For the function of a chief the way I see it is that, he is a technician and he is a middle management leader, he has had lots of years of experience in the Navy, otherwise he wouldn’t be a chief. I think that a chief must provide training to his senior officers in particular and that is why I look back to my first chief in the Navy who took me under his wing. Well, John Tobin insisted that things be done right, he ensured that they were done right, and his men all understood that. And is I saw that work very well, and I think some of that rubbed off on me. 
  •  NARRATOR: This is Executive Officer Commander Fred Triggs, a nuclear specialist, he is in charge of the day to day administration of the ship.  
  •  COMMANDER TRIGGS: Early in my career, fortunately I had an exceptionally fine Chief Electrician Mate as my leading chief, and I well remember the day he sat me down in the repair locker after we secured from general quarters, “Let me tell you how it is.” I have never forgotten that. The Executive officer depends a great deal on the chief petty officer, he expects that chief petty officer with his vast experience in the Navy to know basically what has to be done. 
  •  NARRATOR: The California cuts through the Atlantic. Her twin nuclear reactors provide her unparalleled speed and endurance. Her helmsmen say she is so responsive, she can go from full speed ahead to a dead stop within a distance equal to five times her own length.  
  •  In the days when the first California sailed, the eyes and the ears of the ship were found in the crow’s nest high above the deck. In the new California, the crow’s nest is here, deep within the ship in an area known as the Combat Information Center.  
  •  This is Senior Chief Sonar Technician Richard P. Lee. with his fathometer and his Sonar, he is as familiar with the bottom of the see as Chief Kimble is familiar with its surface. 
  •  CHIEF LEE: With this new long-range sonar, we don’t really do that much navigation anymore, but as far as sound ranging, in other words, ASW warfare, we go out, get the range and the bearing just to get the target. That is primarily what this sonar is all about. 
  •  Today’s sonars compared to World War II would be something like comparing a Model T-4 to a Ferrari. 
  •  SPEAKER 7: Chief? 
  •  CHIEF LEE: Yeah.  
  •  SPEAKER 7: We have got a contact over here bearing 3-3-5 range 4000, it could be that wreck off Chesapeake Bay. 
  •  CHIEF LEE: The range of bearing sounds good, but why don’t you check with the bridge to make sure. 
  •  SPEAKER 7: Bridge, sonar. We have contact bearing 3-3-5 range 4000, could be the wreck off of Chesapeake Bay. Would you verify, please? 
  •  CHIEF KIMBLE: I got it. Were inform combat to inform sonar that the contact they hold is a chartered wreck. 
  •  SPEAKER 8: All right. Combat through inform sonar— 
  •  NARRATOR: If the wreck had turned out to be an enemy submarine, the safety of California would also have been in the hands of this man, Chief Operations Specialist Dudley Locke. Still in his twenties, Chief Locke is among a new breed of Navy chiefs, those whose unusual technical skills, intelligence, and leadership qualities have brought them through the ranks quickly to positions of immense responsibility at an early age.  
  •  Chief Locke is responsible for the men and systems comprising the offensive and defensive combat readiness of California. His station is a labyrinth of consoles and computers and highly sophisticated electronic systems. But none of this technology can be any more effective than the effectiveness of Chief Locke and the 28 men in his division. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Basically, I am responsible for the smooth operation and the training of personnel who man the Combat Information’s Center. Just about everything that happens aboard this ship is somehow related to CIC.  
  •  We have a pretty big breaking point between the petty officer level and the chief petty officer level. In fact, I think you become hell of a lot smarter overnight, all of a sudden, I had a little more respect, and people weren’t just running around calling me by my last name—it was chief, and that meant a lot to me.  
  •  NARRATOR: There was a time when the men who first sailed this sea had few rights and were little more than prisoners in the ships they sailed, but the world has changed, the Navy has changed. 
  •  This is a meeting of the Human Relations Council. It meets regularly both in port and at sea, Its proceedings are based on the fact that a ship’s crew is a society of free individuals and as in any society, harmony and group welfare may at times seem to inhibit individual freedom. Chief Lee is the ship’s Senior Enlisted Advisor, through him every enlisted man on the ship has access to the ear of the captain. 
  •  CHIEF LEE: We can’t treat 500 people like they are one, each person is an individual, and being an individual, they’ve all got their different wants and different needs. We get the people together, if they’ve got a problem they will bring it up to me and when I bring these problems up to the committee I am talking directly to the higher echelon; the executive officer, the education services Officer—the prime movers of the command. And they are the people who can normally correct 60—or 60 to 80 percent of the problems on the spot. The other 20 percent we work on. 
  •  CAPTAIN MILLER: This ship was built to be self-sufficient being nuclear power we can go for many years many years well over a decade without refueling—we are not tied to the beach in any manner. With having that as a capability, the Navy looked to other things that would tie us to the beach and ensured that we would be self-sufficient in that we have our electrical rewind shop where we can rewind essentially any motor that we have aboard, we have a large machine shop that we can repair practically any piece of equipment on board, we ran out of beans and bullets, well, then we would have a problem, but I don’t have to worry about fuel, repair capabilities, or what have you on board. I would say one of the most self-sufficient cruisers in the Navy. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: Flight quarters, flight quarters for personnel transfer. All hands not involved in helicopter operations remain clear of flight deck and areas off the frame 151— 
  •  COMMANDER TRIGGS: Almost all ships in the navy today have the capability to land and launch some size or type of helicopter. We split up the responsibilities for what has to be done on the flight deck, we have to be able to obviously, to land and launch helicopter safely, we have to be able to refuel them and maintain them, we have to be prepared in the event of an emergency landing or fire. 
  •  Fuel for a jet aircraft—and this helicopter is a jet aircraft—is extremely critical as far as purity and lack of water suspended in. Daily, the fuels chief test the fuel and then again, he samples it just before it is put in the aircraft, and they are putting their lives and that flying airplane in the hands of that chief petty officer who says it’s good. Pump it to them. Chief receiver is an exceptional chief petty officer, and one respected throughout the ship. 
  •  A helicopter is an airplane, and it is a funny airplane, it is not natural for it to fly, and it’s landing on a small deck often one that is pitching and rolling, sometimes one that is wet. Operation of any aircraft is a hazardous operation. Operation of a helicopter is more so—operation of a helicopter off a rolling platform like this can be very hazardous operation. One of the most hazardous things that we do. 
  •  Flight deck operations, landing, and launching are under control of the landing signal enlisted (LSE), fueling is under the responsibility of the fuels chief, firefighting, crash crew is the responsibility of the damage control chief, so we’ve split it up. Each of them runs his own organization, he’s responsible for the training every day, he’s responsible for it being at flight quarters on time, you’re responsible for what it does or can be called upon to do. It is because the chief petty officers are taking charge of their area of responsibility and making it work. All I have to do is get back there and watch. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: There are conflicts between the sea going career and a family—most of them are essentially the fact that you are gone for a good portion of every year. 
  •  MRS. LOCKE: I don’t like him being away so much, but that’s what he wants out of life—he wants a Navy career. And he was in the Navy when I married him. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: During the time that you are at home, you have to really just live a year in maybe those six months that you are there. 
  •  MRS. LOCKE: Before Dudley goes to sea, he tries to get everything done that needs to be. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: I think for her, it’s a very difficult thing, especially knowing that she has to run the home, bring up Tiffany, and all the other odds and ends that I normally do when I’m here because she has to do when I am gone.  
  •  MRS. LOCKE: The day the ship pulls in is really exiting, I have butterflies in my stomach, Tiffany is all excited, and I can’t sleep the night before he comes home—it is always excitement, really. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: I believe my family and friends have a pretty good understanding of the rank of chief and what it means to be a chief petty officer.  
  •  MRS. LOCKE: When Dudley made chief, it just seems like our whole lives changed because he had worked so hard for it, and just seemed like there is—it was so much more exciting. He seemed so more enthused and I seem to get more interested in the Navy since he has made chief.  
  •  CHIEF LEE: You lose track of time when you are out at sea. When you keep busy the time goes along pretty quick, but you do—you do think of the family a lot, you just wonder what’s going on. 
  •  MRS. LEE: When we got married, I knew he was going to be a career man, there was no doubt in his mind at that time. As far as when he leaves, the feeling has never changed, it is still a big letdown. But the kids keep me busy, so time goes by a lot faster. I keep occupied—I keep my time occupied so it doesn’t seem quite so long in between the time he leaves and the time he comes back home. But when we know he is coming back in, the kids have a big thing—we have a big countdown, when it gets to ten, the baby holds up ten fingers and so on, and it’s a big deal. And then the day he is supposed to be coming home, you just can’t live in my house.  
  •  CHIEF LEE: Just about anything that they’ll bring up in the history books, like this place, that place, or anything along that line, the older children especially can say, “Hey, I have been there,” they lived—or they have lived while other kids have to study. 
  •  MRS. LEE: When he made Chief, I was proud of him, I really was. It was a big deal, as far as I was concerned, he was happy about it prestige-wise if that’s the right word. Yeah, I am really proud of him, I really was at that time, still am. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: This is a drill, this is drill. General quarters, general quarters, all hands, man your battle stations. Station for the firing of ship’s missile systems.  
  •  NARRATOR: It was no accident that brought California to these waters, she is a fighting ship, her mission is to be ready in a world that demands readiness. And so, as a fighting ship, she is sailed to a test area in the high seas to see what kind of punch she has. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: Track 8-0-0-7, bearing 3-5-5, range 1-9 miles. Track 8-0-0-7, bearing 3-5-4, range 1-8 miles, T minus one and counting.  
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Launch area is clear, launching system ready to fire. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: Track 8-0-0-7 bearing 3-5-7 range 1-6 miles. Track 8-0-0-7, bearing 3-5-3, range 1-5 miles. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: T minus thirty and counting— 
  •  SPEAKER 1: Track 8-0-0-7, bearing 3-5-6, range 1-3 miles— 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: T minus ten, nine, eight, seven, six—four, three, two, one, fire. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: Track 3-0 seconds—track 8-0-0-7 bearing 3-4-8, range 1-0 miles, mark India, target passed through the gate— 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Looks like a success— 
  •  SPEAKER 1: Track 8-0-0-7, bearing 3-5-1, range 6 miles, mark delta. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: All right. Good shot. 
  •  NARRATOR: One major phase of California’s mission has been successfully completed. Before her crew wrestles with the challenges of another phase, California anchors at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.  
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Everybody is released from tension. When you are on deployment, you are isolated, you are on a ship doing a certain thing. And when you go on to a port, you more or less cut loose, you work hard, you play hard. 
  •  CHIEF LEE: When you are over to a foreign country, you are representing the United States.  So, if you go over there to a person who has never seen an American and if you leave him with a good impression, well, you leave him with a good impression of the States. 
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: One of the reasons that I joined the Navy was I wanted to see the world, I thought it would be very interesting to see peoples of other cultures and lifestyles and compare them to our own in the United States. I ate Pizza with the Italians, drank bear with the Germans—I really thought it was exiting to be overseas and talk to other people and understand the way that they lived. It’s still exciting to me when we go over. 
  •  CHIEF LEE: I have seen considerably more in the last fifteen years than the normal person will probably ever see in their lifetime. I’ve enjoyed it.  
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Through traveling and going to shore in different countries, you more or less educate yourself to things that people spend most of their lives trying to read out of textbooks. And if you get the experience first-hand, you can supplement with the textbook, and you have a better understanding of people. 
  •  SPEAKER 1: This is a drill, this is a drill, general quarters, general quarters, all head to man your battle stations for the firing of guns 51 and 52.  
  •  NARRATOR: Another phase of California’s mission is gunfire support which requires very precise and demanding coordination between the bridge, the chiefs, and their men. If there is a central focus during this exercise, it is the Combat Information Center and on Chief Locke.  
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Three minutes to open fire— 
  •  LIEUTENANT NICK: Did we agree on course and speed?  
  •  CHIEF LOCKE: Two thousand five hundred yards to open fire, two and one-half minutes. 
  •  NARRATOR: The chiefs, a company of rather uncommon men, rugged individualists, professionals. They say the Navy is changing, and so it should, but there is something in the chief that never changes, and that’s Navy life at sea, the love of it, the respect of it, the commitment to it. It’s some intangible that has been passed from one chief, to another, to another since the days of sail and the first California. 
  •  CAPTAIN MILLER: This is the captain. Needless to say, I am extremely gratified with the performance of the ship and her crew. We achieved a grade of 96 point four in gunfire and support exercises and had four successful missile shots. I think that this is the type of performance that our Navy and our nation expect of a ship of this class. Well done to the crew. That’s all. 
  •  Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc. 
  •  USS California 
  •  Chief Petty Officers. the Chiefs, aboard the USS California 
  •  Master Chief Quartermaster Kenneth Kimble, assistant navigation 
  •  Lieutenant Lewis A Nick, Jr., navigator 
  •  Captain Floyd H. Miller, Jr., commanding officer of USS California 
  •  Executive Officer Commander Fred Triggs, nuclear specialist 
  •   The new "crows nest": the combat information center 
  •  Senior Chief Sonar Technician, Richard P. Lee 
  •  Chief Operations Specialist Dudley B. Locke, in charge of the combat information center (CIC)  
  •  Human Relations Council meeting 
  •  Ability to land and launch aircraft's on the USS California.. 
  •  Chief Petty Officers difficulties in balancing their careers and family lives. 
  •  Chief Dudley Locke's home life 
  •  Chief Richard Lee's home life 
  •  Missile systems drill 
  •   Shore leave at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 
  •  Drill, firing guns 
  •  Credits 
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Produced by Dallas-based Bill Stokes Associates for the Chief of Information of the Navy Department, this film follows a number of the Chief Petty Officers who run the USS California, the first of a new class of nuclear service ships. The "Chiefs," a highly esteemed group, are the United States Navy's highest ranked enlisted personnel. Considered the "middle management" between the enlisted men and the officers, they are responsible for overseeing they ship's vital systems and training the enlisted men on them. Individuals featured include: Master Chief Quartermaster Kenneth R. Kimble, Lt. Lewis A. Nick Jr., Captain Floyd Miller, Jr., Executive Officer Commander Fred Triggs, Chief Ricard P. Lee and Chief Dudley B. Locke. Also included is footage of the weapons systems being tested, the chiefs at home with their families, and shore leave in the Virgin Islands. Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc.

Formed in 1965, Bill Stokes Associates – later to be known as The Stokes Group - was a Dallas based production company that made industry and promotional films for a range of clients spanning from Mary Kay Cosmetics to the United States Navy. In 1966, Bill Stokes Associates, provided sound stage and production services for the film "Bonnie and Clyde." Bill Stokes has been honored by the Dallas Producers Association with a Film Pioneer Award.