In the Trough Three Years on Ocean Station
By Thomas F. Jaras
Reviewer: Bernie Ditter
Overall Rating: Four Stars: Highly recommended. An excellent book.
"There are so many reasons to recommend this book that I hardly know where to begin. The author, in telling his story about his three years on station, is so honest in his description of life on board the USS Vance that the least knowledgeable reader will feel that they are there. The humor that he employs to describe the ship, his shipmates and his experiences is only exceeded by his honesty.
His self-effacing tendency when telling his story reinforces his analysis of the dynamic in the wardroom and the hierarchy in the ship in general. For one who has served on board, his disdain for the elitism is a revelation, but at the same time he is willing to admit his succumbing to it in part.
It is fun for the reader to follow his career and observe his development as he becomes Chief Engineering Officer. It is also interesting to witness his innocence in dealing with serious personal issues when here is a person with limited experiences or knowledge to do so. It is apparent from his post Navy career that this young Ensign was a very smart young man.
This is apparent in the way that he contends with the personalities of the many officers who were destined for careers in the Navy and who had brief stays onboard the Vance on their way to another vessel or shore assignment.
I admire the respect that he had for the enlisted under his command and specifically the senior petty officers through whom he managed his department. His understanding that the same hierarchy existing in the wardroom exists in the engine rooms earned him the respect of those under his command.
This is more a story about a man than the places visited and the experiences along the way. I cannot recommend it more and my recommendation to you is to go out and buy this book."
THOMAS F. JARAS earned a doctorate in European history from Georgetown University. He has been a Smithsonian fellow, teacher, national renewable energy consultant, museum consultant, state science and technology staffer, and naval officer. Now retired, he lives in Albany, New York.