Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arrogance or innocence?

As I said yesterday, I've been reading more and more about the naval campaigns on the Great Lakes in the War of 1812. Next week I plan on a series of short articles about various actions or events that took place there during that period, and how they relate to what we're doing in NHS.

I started on this whole tack after some discussion around the Dockyard about comparing our efforts to history. Leaders on the Great Lakes in that period were given an opportunity unlike anything else in our naval history - the powers that be essentially told them to build their ships, then go fight. They seem to have had an astonishing amount of leeway selecting designs, arming existing ships and boats, and all within the realm of 'what do we have and what can we do with it?' - rather than it being strictly budget dependent. After all, if it were a mere matter of money, ther would have probably been much more of a buildup in that region. As it was, the growth was astounding.

And this had me thinking - we're sort of in a similar situation with our little organization. I'm not sure if its arrogance or innocence making such a comparisson, but even casual spectators would have to admit the parallels are there. Excepting that we're not building large scale craft to take into actual combat, we are limited in supplies, materials, manpower, skilled trades - all the things naval leaders faced on the Great Lakes in the early 19th century. Most of the time, making do with what we have is more important than what we can buy, or adhering to rigid practices and methods dictated by regulation. And while we aren't going to be facing actual combat, certain events, such as our crossing of the Chesapeake in the Monomoy Pulling Boat, do cause us to stake our physical (and mental, in many cases) well-being on our work.

So like Isaac Chauncey and Oliver Hazard Perry we're building and outfitting our own craft, only on a much smaller scale. No doubt we - or at least I - will draw strength and take example from their trials and tribulations. And then the issue becomes, just as they faced in those times, how to best use the products of our labors. I'm sure it will require the same fortitude, dilligence and flexibility as it did then.

More to follow.

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