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Master Chief Petty Officer Francis E. Sharkey
Chief of the Boat
 

Francis Ethelbert Sharkey, Chief of the Boat for the SSRN Seaview,  was born in New York City.  He spent his growing up years on the Lower East Side, otherwise known as Hell’s Kitchen. Throughout his childhood and teen years, he was known as ‘Ethel’ to his friends, a play on his middle name, something that he hated but had no choice but to tolerate. In High School, the only class  he ever got an ‘A’ in was Home Economics, something that he also took razzing about in his neighborhood.  However, his hidden talent in that area would come to serve him well later on in life.

 

He enlisted in the US Navy, seeing it as an out of the City, as well as a way to see the  world and learn a great deal more. Due to his inclination in the kitchen, he spent his first tour of duty in the galley of ships. But he decided not to limit himself, so he pursued other courses of study, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. During the course of his enlistment, he earned a reputation of being crusty and demanding but fair.  The men that served with him came to respect him and his decisions as ones that were for the good of the men and the ships that they served on.

 

During his second duty tour on board submarines, at which time he was chief of electrical engineering, he met Captain Harriman Nelson and served under his command. The two men developed a mutual appreciation of the other’s talents, and at the end of the tour, Nelson told the Chief that he would be hearing from him again. Sharkey filed the promise with that of so many other CO’s and continued to make headway in his career until he reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer.  Serving in that capacity on two tours of duty, he was preparing to retire, albeit reluctantly, when an offer arrived from now Admiral Harriman Nelson that he couldn’t refuse.

Nelson’s boat, the Seaview, had just lost its COB. Chief Petty Officer Curley Jones had died suddenly, and after trying several other men in the  COB position, he finally located Sharkey.  He officially offered him the position of Chief of the Boat, with salary and perks to commiserate with his experience. While Sharkey was, and always would be, a ‘Navy Man’, he quickly put in his retirement papers and moved to Santa Barbara, California as expeditiously as the Navy would allow. Besides, he wasn’t really leaving the Navy, he would be in the reserves, ready to serve whenever necessary.

When he arrived at Santa Barbara, he quickly found what a man Chief Jones had been and what a position he was expected to fill. Nelson welcomed him warmly and the friendship that began long ago, became cemented. He also quickly came to appreciate the special working relationship between Lee Crane, Seaview's captain, and Chip Morton, the XO, as well as their friendship, and saw that it made for the extremely smooth running of the boat. He was immediately thrust into the mix by an wild escapade with the boat and a Russian female scientist.  The scientist and Nelson, along with the boat’s bathyscaphe was amazingly swallowed by a huge whale. At the end of the unusual incident, a new relationship was forged, and Sharkey, besides being the COB of the boat, became the unofficial ‘watchdog’ and keeper of the Senior Staff and their respective families.

 

Sharkey never married, tho’ his ‘little black book' of female acquaintances was, from all reports, frequently used when in port. In his later years, 'the Chief' found a lady who was to keep him 'company' for the rest of his days.

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