[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Big gun go boom. That pretty much sums up the morning’s activities, a drill on the 76-millimeter gun mounted forward. To give you perspective, the casings from the ammunition are the size of umbrella stands.
At ten hundred Chief Greg Colvin and PO Josh Hendl heave the Killer Tomato over the side, which will be our target. The object of the drill is of course to exercise the skills of the gun crew, but it is also, according to Weps (LTJG Kevin Beaudoin), to make sure the nifty radar they have mounted to the roof of the bridge works.
Weps has some interesting things to say about older equipment. I have been beginning to feel a little indignant on behalf of the USCG in that a lot of their equipment seems a bit dated. I know I won’t be able to say any more than that so I’ll stop there, but when I say this to Weps, he points out that with older equipment, chances are you’ve still got a weapon you can fire when the computer breaks down. So I feel better.
The CIC, or Combat Information Center, aka Combat, has been “scrubbed”, i.e., all the secret stuff put away so I can visit. (Note to self: Get clearance before next ride.) Chief Luke Cutburth gives me as much of a tour as he can without giving away any state secrets, but it’s very clear that he is a very competent individual who is very enthusiastic about his job and his crew. Also, Combat rides in the center of the ship and because of all the electronics is kept very cool. “When it’s rough or when it’s hot,” Luke says, grinning, “you’d be surprised how many people wind up down here.”
I get to see part of a videotape showing film from a helo chasing a go fast, but right when we get to the good part we get the word that we’re about to begin firing. The deck shakes. We watch the monitor which has the target floating 2 nautical miles away and there is a big splash next to it. These people are so good that I think they’re just toying with the Killer Tomato, because they score a direct hit on the eighth shell, which they very kindly wait to do until I get to the bridge. Ear protection very important when the 76 goes off. Did I mention the big boom?
That afternoon another drill, this time flooding in a storeroom, complicated later by a fire in Sick Bay.
Later there is LE (law enforcement) training on the hangar deck, with ENS Dan Schrader instructing. You’d all recognize the first move, the interview stance, eyes steady, feet spread, hands on belt, it’s the same law enforcement stance you see on every practicing law enforcement professional the world over. Less familiar is “Gun Grab!” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.