Francis Ethelbert Sharkey is a fictional character played by Terry Becker in the 1964–68 American Broadcasting Company television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (TV series).
Chief Sharkey is an approximately 45 years old Chief Petty Officer (CPO) who originates from the state of New York. When based on his accent and other mannerisms, it would not take a stretch of the imagination to determine that Sharkey was born and bred as a resident of New York City's borough of Brooklyn. He is an extremely experienced and efficient CPO who the U.S. Navy, as revealed in the episode "Terror on Dinosaur Island", had placed “on leave” from his active duty status. This made it possible for Admiral Harriman Nelson to sign-up Sharkey to work exclusively for the Nelson Institute of Marine Research (NIMR), in general, and aboard the highly advanced SSRN Seaview, in particular. Though he hails from the State of New York, Sharkey's mannerisms strongly suggests that he sees himself, first and foremost, as a native Brooklynite. This bears itself out when, on a number of occasions, he would recall his youthful days by referring back to such activities as going swimming in New York’s East River quite fondly, which, incidentally, back in the mid to late 1940s the East River would have been clean enough in which kids could swim. It may even be surmised that Sharkey's efficiency as a CPO may have its origin in Brooklyn. When he was in high school, Sharkey received his only “A” in the subject of Home Economics at Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. This is the only clear hint as to where he gained his efficiency at making certain that Seaview and other boats were ready to set sail and runs efficiently when underway.
Experience and military rank
Serving as the SSRN Seaview's Chief of the Boat (COB), Chief Sharkey is, to the command staff and crew, a ramrod of efficiency. He assumed the position after the sudden and unexplained departure of the boat's previous COB, Chief “Curly” Jones. There is no real evidence of how many years of experience Chief Sharkey has acquired in the United States Navy prior to serving aboard Seaview. Assuming that the NIMR-variant uniform are keeping with United States Naval traditions, each one of his service stripes were awarded for four years of naval service, which places him with 16 to 20 years of naval service. Like all officers and CPOs attached to Seaview, Sharkey wears a NIMR-designed wash khaki work uniform. Sharkey also wears the NIMR uniform with a NIMR-variant Chief Petty Officer insignia on both arms of his wash Khaki uniform (see picture b). Occasionally, he wears a khaki service dress uniform. On that uniform, he wears his rank insignia, which is also an NIMR-variant, along with his service stripes on the left arm (see pictures c & e). This uniform is clearly keeping with accepted traditional naval tradition (see pictures a & d).
The number of CPOs assigned to Seaview is not clearly known; however, one can assume that one CPO is the prevailing count. The most viewers have ever since in an episode is two, and it was in the episode titled “Rescue” that is when viewers learned of the existence of a second Chief Petty Officer aboard Seaview, Chief Beach. It is worth noting that a vessel the size of Seaview almost guarantees the assignment of more than one CPO. He supervises the embarkation of supplies and equipment needed aboard Seaview during any mission. He also oversees Missile Room operations and exercises some limited oversight supervision of the Galley. He also manages the majority of work details throughout the boat. Finally, from time to time, Sharkey serves as watch inside the Control Room. Aside from these functions,Chief Sharkey is an accomplished diver, a certified Flying Sub (FS-1) pilot and is capable of piloting the Flying Sub which is particularly so when Admiral Nelson travels on the Flying Sub, Sharkey usually serves as the admiral's co-pilot. However, others have only observed Sharkey operating the Flying Sub during surface and sub-surface operations. When he is not engaged in those duties, Sharkey is usually located at the side of Admiral Nelson assisting him with various other scientific-related tasks. At other times, he served as an unofficial aide-de-camp to the admiral. Sharkey is extremely brave. He will do anything to protect the Seaview's crew. Both Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane have relied upon Sharkey's tenacity when dealing with dire situations and threats, and they have, on a number of occasions, counted his ability to help the command staff to literally fight their way out of a dilemma.
Awards and decorations
The list below displays all of Sharkey's known awards and decorations. The names are given in order of precedence, according to SECNAVINST 1650.1F and the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations (NAVPERS 1566.5G).
|Navy Cross||Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Army)||Navy Distinguished Service Medal|
|Silver Star||Bronze Star Medal||Purple Heart with 1 oak leaf cluster|
|Awards and decorations of the United States government, NRO Meritorious Service Medal (Bronze Medal)||Korean Service Medal with 3 service stars||United Nations Korea Medal|
Below are the same awarded decorations Chief Sharkey wears on his NIMR-variant uniform, but the precedence are placed in the order that appear in the episode "The Edge of Doom", which is not in keeping with military tradition.
|Purple Heart with 1 oak leaf cluster||Awards and decorations of the United States government, NRO Meritorious Service Medal (Bronze Medal)||United Nations Korea Medal|
|Bronze Star Medal||Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Army)||Korean Service Medal with 3 service stars|
|Silver Star||Navy Distinguished Service Medal||Navy Cross|
As a note, regardless of whether or not Chief Sharkey's decorations were in the order of precedence, as established by US naval tradition, it is worthwhile emphasizing that his service stripes and ribbons do point out the story of his military history. To begin with, it is clear that Sharkey did not enter the Navy as a Seaman Recruit but rather he entered the Army as a Private. Sharkey wears four service stripes worn on his NIMR-variant uniform. Assuming that uniform follows naval tradition, it can be presumed that Chief Sharkey has served at least 16 years in the naval service. When he reported for duty at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research, the year was 1975. Dating back 16 years, Sharkey began his tenure as a sailor in the United States Navy in 1959, which causes an apparent conflict with two other awards he received: the Korean Service Medal, and the United Nations Korea Medal. By examining the details behind these two medals, Sharkey could have only participated in the Korean conflict if he enlisted in another branch of the military between 1949 and 1950. This leads to the third award of interest: the Army Distinguished Service Cross. This decoration is awarded to soldiers, which implies that Sharkey started his military career with the Army. Additionally, he received three service stars on his Korean Service Medal, which means he spent the equivalence of four tours (4 years) in Korea. Since it is unclear whether Sharkey stayed in the Army until he joined the Navy in 1959, there can be a fairly accurate approximation that he served 16 years in the United States Navy with 4 to 9 years spent with the United States Army. This gives a total of 20 to 25 years in total military experience. Therefore, it can be established that his age is, in all likelihood, around 43 to 45 years old. It is also worth noting that Sharkey wears a ribbon for the Purple Heart Medal with one oak cluster, indicating that, through the actions of the enemy, he had been wounded twice in a war or conflict.
Chief Sharkey is the quintessential Chief Petty Officer. He is gruff but fair when dealing with subordinates, and his gruffness only becomes evident when subordinates delay carrying out orders. But there are moments when he uses that hard edge of his to express his concern for the safety of subordinate sailors, as demonstrated in the episode "Jonah and the Whale" by his admonishing seamen Kowalski and Riley to return their diving gear in one piece... his way of telling the sailors he wanted them to return to the submarine alive and safe. His crustiness does not extend to superiors to whom he gives all due deference. In spite of these mannerisms, Sharkey has a deep concern for the safety and welfare of all the officers and men of the SSRN Seaview.
Sharkey is a distinctly apolitical man. He does not keep himself informed on current events or politics except when it involves threats to national security directly affecting Seaview’s operation, which bears itself out when he clearly failed to recognize a visiting dignitary was the Secretary of Defense-designee in the episode "The Left-Handed Man".
A passive observer can best describe Chief Sharkey's loyalty to Admiral Harriman Nelson as nearly absolute. From time to time that same loyalty can trumps his dedication to even Captain Crane. Sharkey will follow the admiral under of the most arduous circumstances and will do whatever it takes to protect him, sometimes to the point of insubordination as he demonstrated in the episode "The Death Watch". He even took a bullet while trying to talk a severely brainwashed Nelson out of trying to destroy his brainchild——the Seaview, as unfolded in the episode "Destroy Seaview!". It is also clear that, from time to time, the admiral will drop the formality in their relationship to let Sharkey in on the background information of his dire situation as what he faced in the episode "The Brand of the Beast". Nelson truly appreciates Sharkey's loyalty and efficiency, which is one reason why he almost always have the Chief accompany him whenever he leaves the Seaview in the Flying Sub or the Diving Bell (Apple-1).
Sharkey thinks of himself as "lady's man" because of the sheer number female acquaintances around most ports Seaview and other U.S. Navy submarines visited around the globe. He maintains their contact information such as addresses and telephone numbers in his “little black book”; which, incidentally, Admiral Nelson immolated, out of necessity by, when the two men were stranded on a dangerous, prehistoric island in the episode "Terror on Dinosaur Island". Sharkey is renowned for his superstition such as his belief in the existence of Leprechauns as was made clear in the episode "Terrible Leprechaun". He possesses many of the standard superstitions such as tossing salt over his left shoulder as well as others. In one case, he wears a green paisley shirt when playing cards as he did in the episode "Leviathan". When someone tries to link his wearing of that shirt to being superstitious, the Chief scoffed at the assertion and stated that he wears the shirt only for luck.
Friends and acquaintances
As a kid and teenager, many of the Chief’s intimate friends from the old neighborhood usually refers to him as “Ethel”—— a shorten version of his middle name as learned in the episode "The Lost Bomb".
It is unclear as to whether or not Chief Sharkey have a collection of friends aboard Seaview or on the institute grounds of NIMR; however, he is known to share an odd but clearly pleasant relationship with Admiral Nelson; which, to some, may border on an friendship. Yet, it is obvious that both men remain mindful of the need to maintain military decorum when in the presence of other officers and crew members of Seaview. It is as equally true they observe such decorum while in the general public. Perhaps the one person aboard Seaview with whom Sharkey shares the closest work relation is Seaman Kowalski. Kowalski trusts the Chief implicitly and doesn't need much details when going on an assignment. More to the point, in the episode "Secret of the Deep", Sharkey merely contacted Kowalski via the 1MC and told him that he, Kowalski, had just volunteered for hazardous duty. Kowalski is also the person whom Sharkey usually keeps company with when on shore leave, which periodically prove to be adventures onto themselves. Kowalski once recounted three days he and Sharkey spent in San Diego on what he referred to as being a “binge”. When off-duty aboard Seaview, Sharkey spend most of his time playing card games with Kowalski and Seaman Riley; their game of choice is normally Gin Rummy. While on shore leave, Aside from Kowalski, Sharkey is known to spend off-duty hours with Seaman Patterson and periodically Seaman Riley. Chief Sharkey is also known to take many of his breaks in the Crew’s Mess with Kowalski and other junior enlisted such as Seaman Patterson. This, incidentally, implies that Seaview does not have its own separate Chief’s Mess or quarters.