[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
When I was up in the bow last night I saw thunderheads developing off our stern, and this morning they paid off with thunder, lightning and rain. At 0730 they were mopping up the residue in the bridge. Ops (LT James Terrell) is standing the four to eight as OOD. Technically, the Ops Officer doesn’t have to stand watch, but since he’s in charge of the OOD break-in program, when the OODs come before the Captain on their board examinations to qualify he needs to know what’s been going on on the bridge. “But really,” he says, smiling, “it’s because I like it.” Given his responsibilities on board I don’t think he ever sleeps, and considering how often he’s up and down between the bridge and Combat (five flights), he has to be in better shape than the rest of us combined.
We don’t love drills. In fact, there are those among us who regard training officer LTJG Morgan Barbieri as nothing but trouble. One of my enduring memories of this patrol will be just before yesterday’s SCAT drill, when PO Stephen Garon clutched the bridge radar with both hands and prayed to the Coastie gods, “Please, give us a go fast red, please, a go fast red, please, right now.” They weren’t listening. No drills today but flight ops, and EMO won the gas guzzling guessing contest. Last night, LTJG Adrian Harris won for the third time.
Passing down the starboard side of the ship this afternoon I run into SN Dominic Cortese and SA Aaron Guttierez, joined shortly by BM3 Jordan Wagstaff, who are waiting to take inventory of the unrep locker. Inside it looks like a small chandler’s store, lines and floats and a 60-pound tool box they have to hump up to the hangar deck when they put up the king staff, which they use when we do a replenishment of supplies by helo. Over time, Dominic says, “people move stuff around, you have to be sure you’ve got everything you need in the right place.” Just keeping track of all the equipment on this ship is a full-time, all-crew effort.
No reveille this morning, a real gift from command to crew, and pizza tonight, served by those lovely people in Support. Normally petty officers go to the head of the chow line, but tonight its shellbacks, people who have sailed across the equator, and PO Matthew Sayers stands at the entrance to the mess deck like an MP – “You! You’re a shellback, step up here to the head of the line!” While the pollywogs remain glumly lined up on the main deck corridor, afraid the galley will run out of pizza before they get their share. Every Saturday the mess cooks (with I hear some trepidation and probably even real heroism, as they have to clean up after) turn their galley over to a different department on board to make and serve the pizza. The crew really likes the turnaround. And the pizza.
Several folks have asked what the crew does in their off time. I’m happy to report that a lot of them read, because that’s job security for me. There are also three mini-theatres on board and the ship has a library of hundreds of movies. Engineer Officer LT Todd Raybon is teaching a college level algebra class. Most everyone has an iPod, some have DVD players, and there is a four-computer internet café. I’ve also seen wrestling being painstakingly coached during steel beach, people playing cards on the mess deck, and of course, people are always studying to get qualified as a quartermaster or a bosun’s mate or an officer of the deck or a helo control officer. There are two gyms that are constantly in use (there is a serious culture of fitness in the CG, they have biannual weigh-ins and they’ll fire you if you’re overweight and don’t take it off). And, of course, there is fishing off the fantail, where this evening the XO scored the first sailfish of the patrol. It was taller than he is. I just want to know how it tastes.