Finally, the Caine reenters combat duty in the siege of Saipan. This time, Willie has a more mature understanding of combat, and feels scared. The Caine is assigned an antisubmarine patrol. Willie is amused to notice that Queeg changes his position on the deck every time the Caine presents a new side to the shore. Defiantly, Willie does the opposite, exposing himself to the shore with every pass. A Navy Corsair is shot down overhead and lands near the ship. Queeg orders the ship out of formation to investigate the crash. Another destroyer, the Stanfield, also investigates the crash, and comes under fire from a shore battery. Queeg orders evasive action and Willie asks for the Caine's relatively weak guns to be fired the battery. The larger guns on the Stanfield open up, but Queeg ignores Willie's requests for a firing order. The Stanfield takes and returns fire, but the Caine speeds away. The incident is duly recorded in Maryk's log.
The Caine shifts back into escort duty, plowing from Guam to Majuro and back to Kwajalein. Willie, once the captain's pet, becomes his scapegoat. Willie becomes amazingly thorough in his work in order to spite Queeg. Queeg reaches the year anniversary of his deployment on the Caine. As few captain hold their commands for more than a year, Queeg waits expectantly for a dispatch with his relief, but none comes. Willie's lone pleasure and outlet comes from his letters to and from May Wynn. He becomes increasingly attached to her, but also becomes increasingly aware that he is doing her a injustice. The subject of their marriage is never touched.
Between the water famine, the cowardly handling of the attack on the Stanfield, and the declaration of war between captain and crew as a result of the Stilwell court martial, everyone on the ship feels sure that Queeg is unfit for command by the anniversary of Queeg's takeover. Even Maryk, who held out longest, attempts to quiet the crew's complaints simply in the interest keeping the Caine together. In secret, Maryk is writing a secret log of the captain's activities with the idea of eventually using the log to have Queeg removed from command. Keefer is still the leader of the dissenters, but when Maryk ask him to "put up or shut up," Keefer does not want to endanger himself. Keefer boasts several times that he doesn't care if the captain discovers his feelings, but he always says such things in in circumstances where he can be confident that he will not be reported. When in the captain's presence, Keefer is just as submissive as everyone else.
Despite the horror of Queeg's tyranny, the months pass quickly for the crew of the Caine. Large periods of time are not described in the novel, indicating that not much of consequence has taken place. This shows that despite all the complaining, the Caine gets along fairly well. It performs the majority of its tasks with competence. The Caine fails in times when it is thrust into situations it was not designed to handle. The Caine, with its small deck guns, was not designed to trade fire with shore batteries, nor was it intended to provide cover for attack boats, and even target towing is slightly beyond the expected scope of a minesweeper destroyer. The Caine was designed for convoy duty minesweeping activities, duties in which it excels. This raises the question of whether Queeg's failures are really his fault. Is the crew blaming him for failing at jobs that he was not intended to perform? Is their discontent misdirected? It is possible that the Navy knew exactly what kind of commanding officer Queeg would be, and stuck him on a minesweeper destroyer with that in mind, knowing that his inadequacies would not matter much in such a mundane role. The Navy needs for Queeg to follow orders, which he does well. It is Queeg's attitude and methods that turn the crew against him. Though the novel makes us share in the crew's hatred of Queeg, it provides logical grounds for excusing his behavior.
Willie has become a more seasoned officer by his second combat experience. The horror of war has penetrated his youthful carelessness. He is still patriotic, and will perform his duties to the letter, but his entire prospective has changed. Willie is also able to view his relationship with May Wynn from a more objective point of view. At this point, he knows his behavior is wrong.