An American aircraft carrier is a small city. With over 2,000 residents, and all the necessary technological equipment to keep them alive, well-fed, comfortable, occupied - oh yes, and fighting enemies too - a modern nuclear carrier may be the most complex single device modern engineering has yet produced.
Unlike an ordinary American city, however, it is the opposite of a democracy. It is presided over by the captain, who has absolute power - in his domain. However, the captain must answer to the chain of command: of course, his admiral, and the Pentagon, but far worse, the Pentagon bureaucracy. Keeping an aircraft carrier supplied consumes so much money and supplies, that the paperwork is overwhelming.
A captain bears total responsibility for everything that happens to or with his ship, and is rewarded and punished accordingly. Obviously, his career will be ruined if he runs the ship aground, or hits another ship, or any number of other seamanly mishaps. However, a captain is also responsible for having his paperwork in order, to the last roll of toilet paper in inventory, and if the discrepancy is large enough, that too can ruin his career.
On one occasion, as a carrier was preparing to return to its home port after an extended tour of duty, the supply staff was taking a count of inventory and records, to ensure that everything was in order for delivery to the base supply clerk. All was not well, however, on the hangar deck. The records indicated that, at the beginning of the tour, a certain number of spare fighter jet engines had been provided. Several had been used as replacements for blown engines during the tour, all properly accounted for and signed in triplicate, leaving an appropriate number remaining. But in storage, there was one more jet engine than the paperwork said should be there.
An extra jet engine? How on earth did that get there? The records clearly showed how many came onboard at sailing time; how many were used; and simple math reveals how many should be left. But there it was, one too many jet engines. Now, a fighter jet engine is not cheap; and while there are ways to adjust to books to balance out a few missing candy bars, it is much more difficult to cover over a discrepancy of a part worth millions of dollars.
Arrive back in port with the books out of balance by that much, and the captain would never make Admiral. He looked at the bemused faces of the supply staff; then he looked at the extra engine on its pallet; then he looked at out the porthole at the endlessly churning waves of the high seas...
The carrier arrived back in port with the books in balance, and the correct number of jet engines in inventory. The fish are grateful for the newly forming coral reef on the sea-floor. And the taxpayers will never know.