The Ready Room: Six Months on…

Captain’s Log, Stardate 73913.6.

I would be lying to say that the past six months have been kind on the crew of the USS Animus, but even with what the crew is already calling the Year Of Hell, this crew has shone through and exemplified the best Starfleet has to offer.

According to naval tradition, the first six months of a ships life will define its future, while there are times that I am thankful we aren’t aboard an ocean-going vessel, this is one of those times that I think that this adage is probably correct.

NUSHIP Animus slipped our moorings at the Abstergo Fleet Yards on Stardate 73517.7 (20-01-2020) and joined the NSW Taskforce of the 11th Fleet to serve alongside the USS Orion Star and USS Tydirium for our shakedown cruise. We were to take over the southern edge of the Tydirium’s patrol route, an area that we used to patrol while as a shuttle.There are times when I remember fondly the Runabout Animus that we brought to the Fleet Yards as part of the commissioning crew, though I am reminded of the carbon scorched hull of a craft that bore one too many dents that not even our Chief Engineer Ensign Sullivan could get on top of.

CO Manuel and XO Hough at Goulburn Station

After weathering the volatile environment already chronicled in the report of my Chief Science Officer Lieutenant JG Zomer to Starfleet Command, NUSHIP Animus arrived at our home port of Goulburn Station amid a disastrous meteor storm that while spreading out through the core of our patrol route with hailstones the size of golf balls, big enough to smash car windows and injure birds, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by massive dust storms. In all the storm lasted fifteen minutes, but resulted in an estimated 37,000 insurance claims for damage to both personal vehicles and property. The Animus also sustained damage during this storm which required us to put into Goulburn Station for repairs.  

While the sudden rain and damaging hail did give some respite to the raging hellfire’s (to the point where civil and military responders where redeployed from the fire front to assist with the rain damage), it did not stop them, it would not be until March that all fires along our patrol route would be extinguished, but not before 3,500 homes were destroyed.

Five days after putting in to Goulburn Station, we were able to celebrate our shakedown, [See File: Mission Report Shakedown Party] though it was a somewhat subdued affair with so many of the crew unable to attend due to closures in transport corridors, or to damage sustained to either homes or personal vehicles. And it was in this hellish environment, where the only safe way to travel externally was in full environmental suits, a crew was forged. Out here in the wilderness, we learned that in order to survive we needed to be a crew built on a foundation of teamwork and compassion.

The crew of the USS Animus

By stardate 73573.2 (09-02-2020) a series of tropical lows appeared off the coast of Australia, that while failing to develop into cyclones and while initially seen by many as a godsend (or at least extremely convenient), especially for a Region amid an unprecedented drought, with most water storage facilities below 50% capacity, some even reaching single digits, even this good fortune would eventually turn into an ill omen.

By the 10th February, Sydney Fleet Command was reporting the heaviest rainfall in thirty years, and water storage facilities in the Animus’ patrol sector were first meeting, then exceeding capacity, and with that increased capacity leading to failures in the Region’s management systems. The ensuing heavy downpour caused parts of the country to flood, causing more damage and forcing the populace to evacuate some areas. This devastation could be seen as we were leaving with a good portion of where we were either burnt, damaged or flooded.  

By stardate 73616.7, (25-02-2020) what we thought was the worst was finally over, so we again formerly celebrated our launch, just over a month to the day of arriving on station. It was a joyous night of good food, endless frivolity and questionable gaming decisions. Little did we know that it would also be the last time we could congregate as a group. While it was on the 25th January 2020 that the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Australia, it became readily apparent that this ‘simple’ influenza, was going to become a major issue, as on the 20th March 2020, Australia closed its borders, and local governments started shutting down non-essential services at a steady rate.

Thus started the next 93 days of quarantine. It became apparent rather rapidly that provisions would start to be an issue, as hoarding and panic buying started to become endemic as the number of cases started to rise and supply chains started to break down. And it was in this time that the crew came together (metaphorically) once again, offering support and what provisions they have to any of the crew who were in need.

Even though we were all locked in our quarters during this time, there never really was any feeling of isolation (or Iso as the locals called it) as our communications system was flooded with messages of support, of comradery, or jokes and funny pictures, and a community that was forged by flame became a family, where we looked after each other, and even if we couldn’t meet in person, we met online, participating in roleplay adventures, streaming sessions and just general venting. We participated in the Online Teddy Bear Hunt, and our Travelling Trekkies Initiative, launched just prior to the lockdown gave us a tiny glimpse at other chapters around the fleet through the eyes of Lieutenant Commanders AnnaZey thas-Nan and MistHrey ses-Var, and while they were meant to visit landmarks, the messages we got back from other chapters at seeing tiny blue officers appear on their ships seemed to have the added side effect of improving morale.

I’ve recently completed the crew’s half-yearly appraisals, and the number one thing that the entire crew was proud of was our communication, and the fact that almost instinctually we can tell when someone is becoming isolated and absences are immediately noticed.

Now, as we are on the cusp of completing our shakedown and soon will be commissioned as a vessel within Starfleet, I am confident in the belief that we will continue to grow and develop as a crew, and safe in the knowledge that the Animus will exalt the values of Starfleet, and bring a greater understanding of what it means to be, human.

Live Long and Prosper,

We’ll get through this

Commander Ross Manuel
Commanding Officer USS Animus