In October, the Caine takes on a duty in the Ulithi Atoll, towing targets. One day Willie gets a message from Roland, who is on the aircraft carrier Montauk, inviting Keefer and Willie to the carrier. Queeg denies them permission to leave the ship, citing overdue inventory. The next morning, they hand in the inventory and receive permission to visit Roland, but the carriers leave before they can go. As the Montauk passes, Roland and Keefer try to get messages across by megaphone, but not much gets through. They wish each other luck.
The carriers head to the Philippines for battle. On October 26, Willie gets a communication saying the Montauk has been struck by a kamikaze plane and sustained heavy damage. Keefer does not seem worried about his brother. The Montauk eventually limps back into the harbor and sends a man over to the Caine with the news that Roland Keefer has died. When the Montauk first came under enemy fire, the captain and the exec died, and the rest of the crew began jumping ship. Only Roland had kept his head. He saved the Montauk, not stopping his work even after the suicide bomber hit. Roland was buried at sea.
That night, Willie cries for his lost friend. Later, Queeg wakes Willie to decode a personnel order. The orders turn out to be for Ducely, whose wealthy family had gotten a transfer for the incompetent officer. Queeg is furious, and does not emerge from his cabin for a full week, giving Maryk full control of the ship.
One night while at a bar on Mogmog Island, Ensign Jorgensen acquires a gallon of fresh strawberries for the Caine. That night the mess stewards serve ice cream with strawberries. Queeg makes a rare appearance and eats dish after dish of the treat. That night the spirits of the crew are elevated to an all-time high. At three in the morning, Queeg calls the officers to a meeting. There, Queeg insists that one quart of strawberries should remain, but they are all gone. Queeg orders the officers to solve the mystery by eight o'clock that morning. The officers cross-examine the mess crew, but discover nothing. Finally, Maryk gives up and has Keefer whip up one of his specialty snow job reports.
The next morning, Queeg calls Maryk to his cabin and declares the report unacceptable. Queeg explains his theory. On a previous post, cheese had been stolen from the freezer by a man who had made a copy of the mess officer's key. Queeg made the perpetrator confess, thereby earning himself a letter of commendation. Queeg thinks something similar happened with the strawberries, and asks Maryk to order every member of the crew to hand in a written report presenting at least two alibis for the hours between one and three. That day the Caine leaves Ulithi to escort the damaged carriers to Guam. The next morning, Queeg tells Keefer that he knows who the villain is. He asks Keefer to tell the crew that Queeg has identified the criminal, who should turn himself in. No one turns himself in. Queeg calls for all keys aboard the ship to be tried in the freezer lock, and if none work, the entire ship will be searched until the key is found.
That night, Keefer again speaks out against the captain, theorizing that the captain is attempting to relive his glory days when he had earned the commendation by tracking down a duplicate freezer key. Keefer then asks if Maryk had ever head of article 184, and Maryk yells for him to keep it down. Still, that night Maryk writes an extensive entry on Queeg's activities in his log, and reads up on Article 184.