American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

QUEEG, CAPTAIN. Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg is the fictional captain of the U.S.S. Caine, the nearly obsolete minesweeper- destroyer that serves as the scene of action for Herman Wouk’s* World War II novel The Caine Mutiny (1951). Queeg relieves another captain from command of the Caine early in the novel; it soon becomes apparent to the officers and crew that he is both paranoid and a petty tyrant. Queeg severely punishes his men for the least infraction and proves himself a coward in battle. His inept handling of the Caine during a typhoon nearly sinks the ship and prompts the ship’s executive officer to remove him from command, an action supported by another officer on duty as well as the helmsman. Subsequently, the executive officer is court-martialed for mutiny,* but an excellent lawyer secures a “not-guilty” verdict for him by casting aspersions on Queeg for his irrational and vindictive actions as captain of the Caine. Wouk adapted his novel into a play, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, in 1954, the same year that the film starring Humphrey Bogart was released.

Christopher Lee