[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Today I sat in on ENS Dan Schrader’s OOD board. He has been standing watch on the Munro for a little under two months under the rotating supervision of all of the ship’s qualified OODs, and today they met to question him about every nautical thing under the maritime sun that he needs to know so he can be the Captain’s representative on the bridge for four hours at a time.
Present were Weps LTJG Kevin Beaudoin, BMC Wes Guilmartin, LTJG Morgan Barbieri, Ops LT James Terrill, the XO, EO LT Todd Raybon, and the Captain. First they met without him to discuss what they thought were his strengths and weaknesses, and decide to let the EO hammer him on engineering and Ops on frequencies because he’s been having a little trouble with those. Overall, they are very confident of Dan’s capabilities, especially given his nine years’ prior experience as a bosun’s mate before he went into OCS.
Then they bring Dan in and for an hour test his knowledge of OOD duties, everything from quiz questions (XO—“How long is a prolonged blast?”) to story questions (BMC—“A red flare goes up off the port bow at 1am. What do you do?”) The Captain asks him the names and numbers of our mooring lines and then asks him to walk us through an undocking, and then do it again with a steady offshore wind. The EO wants to know what commands he would give the engine room during an undocking, and Dan didn’t forget about the bow prop. LTJG Barbieri asked him to walk us through the OOD’s actions prior to setting flight ops. And much, much more.
[Dan made me free of his notebooks, one the Captain’s standing orders and the other the Personnel Qualification Standard for the Officer of the Deck. You should see these things. They have chapter headings like Electronic Navigation Fundamentals, Cutter Organization Fundamentals, Security Fundamentals —“Explain clearance, access, and need to know.” I’ve got those down, I don’t have any of ‘em. And then there are the USCG’s Navigation Rules, Steering and Sailing Rules, Conduct of Vessels in Sight of One Another, Lights and Shapes, Sound and Light Signals, and my favorite, Penalty Provisions. Screw around at sea and we catch you at it, it’s gonna cost you a cool five grand per violation. Go ahead, I dare you.]
During his board Dan was at all times composed, and slow and deliberate in his answers. He was a little slower in the beginning and then grew more confident as the board progressed. I’m probably wrong, but at about 30 minutes in I got the feeling he was starting to stump them, and at 40 minutes they started answering calls on the radio and the phone again. After 55 minutes they sent him out so they could discuss his fate. It was unanimous. “It’s getting very boring to stand watch with him,” LTJG Barbieri says. When they call him back in, the Captain reminds Dan that he has a team of experts working for him and to remember to ask them for help when he needs it. “Congratulations,” the Captain says, and rises to shake his hand.
Dan stood his first unsupervised watch today from 4 to 8pm. Chief Wes Guilmartin greets him with, “Sir, it is a distinct pleasure to inform you that you are late for your first watch.” Then Wes (who was also absent for part of his OOD watch, the one prior to Dan’s, because he was on the board with the rest of the OODs) gives him the change of watch information. They salute, Dan grins, smacks his hands together once and says in a fine command voice, “Bridge! Ensign Schrader has the deck and the con!” answered by a chorus from the rest of the watch, “Aye!” Indeed he does.
Tonight I have way more appreciation of just what BM1 Terry Bailey is taking on by going for OOD. “To really test the amount of knowledge you need to stand a deck watch,” Wes says, “the board would last for months.”
Tonight is morale night, and the galley features engineers making pizza. These guys never let up. Speaking of which, the seas had come up a little bit overnight and it was a rockier ride than usual. LTJG Josh Dipietro led a crew of engineers including MKC Will Ray, MK1 Daniel Bensley, MK2 Barry Lawson and MK1 Donald Thorpe who spent two hours this afternoon taking in sea water for ballast through the #3 Fire Pump. Afterward, our ride was noticeably smoother.
And yes, that would be the same ENS Dan Schrader who is posting a photo essay of our patrol to Fred’s Place.