Robert Denver served as Chief Officer on the USS Flanigan, a cargo vessel whose home port was Ireland. Robert longed to be a captain, so he took on extra duties and studied protocol manuals late each night to accelerate his career.
Unfortunately for Robert, his current captain took a dislike to him because he saw his ambition as a personal threat.
One day a crewman came to Robert and begged for shore leave to be with his wife who was giving birth to their first child. It was an emergency situation, so rather than throw off the entire duty roster, he allowed the young father to leave the ship and took the shift, himself.
The long hours, however, caught up to Robert and he accidentally dozed off. The captain found Robert asleep, and instead of waking him, left a note to see him immediately, the next day.
“You were asleep on the job! This is a very serious infraction!” He then showed Robert an entry in the logbook, “Chief Officer was fell asleep while on duty.”
Robert admitted he made a mistake and apologized. He also explained the last-minute decision to help a fellow crewmate. In light of the emergency situation and this being his first infraction, he pleaded the log entry to be struck from the record.
“Captain, please don’t let that stay in the log,” he said. “This could ruin my chances of ever becoming a captain!”
“Is the log entry true?” asked the smug captain.
“Yes, it is true, but…” Robert sighed.
“Then, if it is true it has to go in the log. There can be no acceptions.” said the captain sternly.
For the next few days, the captain did everything in his power to remind Robert he would never make captain, himself. He even made a new rule that log entries be sent to the Admiral’s office immediately following each shift. His fate was sealed.
Seeing his Chief Officer defeated and resigned to his fate, the captain eventually relented or got bored.
Two weeks later, it became Robert’s turn to make the rounds and maintain the logbook. At the end of his shift, he made his notes and was about to send a copy to the Admiral via wireless when he got an idea. Smiling, he added one more note to the log and sent the transmission.
“WHAT IS THIS?!” The captain furiously demanded of him the next day. “Why did you make this entry?!”
“Is the log entry true?” asked Chief Officer sheepishly.
“You know it is! Of course it is!!!” The captain said, losing his mind.
“Then the log entry must stay. You made it very clear to me if it’s true, it MUST go in the logbook!” and he walked out of the captain’s office.
The captain stared once again at the log entry that would ruin his own career, “The ship seems in good shape. The Captain was sober today.”