[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Today a fishing vessel would not respond to our hail so we sent a boat over to talk to them. We see gear in the water and it’s smaller than your average mother ship, but it gives us a chance, the captain says, “to push the button.”
The away team members are duly assembled, we get a GAR (green-amber-red, rating each action 1 to 10, 1 being low risk, 10 too high) assessment that is well in the green for launch.
The away team is cautioned as to their actions as the F/V is Mexican and unless and until there is cause for more than talk, our guys will only talk to the fishermen—they won’t even let our boat touch hulls with the F/V. And, as we expected, they didn’t have the proper radio with which to respond to our hail, so our boat returns to the ship.
After lunch we give the fire drill another try, and this time it runs like clockwork. “This is why we practice over and over and over” the captain says), so well that during the boat drill later that afternoon, four people who performed extra well get to go along.
We have two boats that go very fast, used in conjunction with the helo we will take on later to interdict go fasts (drug smugglers). Riding in them is an objective of pretty much everyone on board from the captain on down. I, who have done nothing to merit the privilege, am invited to go along.
If I were a better person I would have yielded my place to a deserving crew member, but I’m not, so I got to go OTH (over the horizon) on Mun1.
On Mun1 are BM2 Stephen Garon,BM2 Matthew Hendricks, BM3 Jordan Wagstaff, and SN Jonathon Sardinha, along with MK3 Christopher Flores, EM3 Demetrick Moore, IT1 Damian Zura and me, and one more, ET1 James Pisano, the tech coaxing the radios to work.
We drive straight into the sun, going a classified amount of knots, fast enough that we spend a considerable amount of time airborne. (Boat jockeys are the same wherever you go.) Both boats, Mun1 and Mun2, have been launched and both were outfitted with new radio equipment in port. Because tech will screw you every time, on land, sea or air, it takes a lot of strong language before the two boats can hear each other and the ship as well.
We meet up at our way point, and because this is the Coast Guard and crosstraining is like a mantra for them (nobody and I mean nobody has only one job in the US Coast Guard, and if you do then you sure aren’t having as much fun as you could be), everyone changes seats, the coxswain comes aft to navigation, navigation switches to communications, and navigation takes the conn.
“Be cool if we saw a go fast out here,” I heard someone say.
Seems shorter coming back, probably because I didn’t want to. We sidle up to the starboard side of the ship, the deck crew throws us a weighted line we fasten off to the bow, we pay out the line until we’re below the davits on the crane, the shackles descend, we fasten them off to bow and stern, the coxswain checks again to see that we all put our helmets on like we were supposed to before we approached the ship, and we are hoisted up to the boat deck.
No kidding, guys. Slicker than snot.