Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

FLASH TRAFFIC:
I've berth shifted to a new and improved Yankee Sailor.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Day at Sea

It was a boring, quiet watch last night, so in between the myriad of trivial tasks that come up during four hours "in the chair" I logged what went on yesterday as sort of a "day in the life of a Sailor." It's long, like our days at sea, but worth the read I think - even if you have to take a break for coffee and a smoke.

0001 - Sleeping.
0045 - Bridge calls, secondary GPS has lost position data. There's another GPS set that's working, so back to sleep.
0120 - Bridge calls, secondary GPS working again. Good news, but you look at your watch and see you have to get up in less than an hour and you wish they hadn't called. Back to sleep.
0215 - Alarm clock goes off
0225 - Combat Systems Officer calls to make sure you're up to relieve him - smart man, that CSO. Shave, comb hair, dress, proceed to wardroom for coffee and PopTarts, then smoke pit. Smoke two, it's going to be a long day.
0245 - Climb back up the six ladders to CIC for watch, ducking into flag plot to see what's going on in the group.
0300 - After reviewing what's happened during his watch, what's broken and what got fixed, what ships are where and what's in the schedule for the day, assume the watch as Tactical Action Officer. There's nothing tactical to do where you are, though, so you're sort of an underway CDO for the next four hours.
0310 - Go to the bridge and make sure the OOD know's what's in the schedule, and make him explain his plan to get the ship from place to place.
0330 - Tell the Watch Officer to start the communications checks on the radio circuits that will be used during the day that were supposed to be started half an hour ago.
0345 - Tell the Track Supervisor to get the trackers to pay attention and put symbols on all the radar contacts.
0415 - Run down six ladders to get another cup of coffee in the wardroom, then back up six ladders to get back to CIC. Curse that you don't have time to duck in the smoke pit.
0420 - Ask how comms checks are going
0425 - Come up with a plan to pick up some Marines from the LSD, and the cruiser's captain, that will arrive by small boat at 0730. Curse that you were notified about the boat transfer at 0100, after everyone was in their racks.
0435 - Explain the boat transfer plan over chat to the cruiser and LSD, and wait for them to digest and comment. Start reviewing the news of the day, blogging optional.
0500 - Make sure the bridge departs the night steaming box for the landing craft launch point.
0505 - Review the cruiser's proposal for a rendezvous for boat transfer, and reject because it's 20 miles from the landing craft launch point, and you launch at 0800.
0510 - Finish up reading the news.
0535 - Get on chat and find out how the cruiser intends to follow you to the rendezvous, remind him to pass astern when you turn and take station off the beam so as not to foul the well deck and launch lane.
0605 - Call the First Lieutanant and tell him to have the port sideport rigged with a pilot's ladder by 0645, and stand by for whining.
0615 - Go to the bridge so the Captain can ask you why the previous watch didn't call and tell him about the boat transfer.
0635 - Check the time to see how much longer watch will last.
0645 - Brief the oncoming officer about what's been done, what's in progress, what's broken and what's fixed, and wonder how long he's going to take to assume the watch.
0700 - Proceed aft and up one level to Debark Control for Officer's Call with the XO.
0710 - Proceed up one more ladder to the weather deck for Quarters.
0715 - Quarters. Take a look at how the Sailors are dressed. Explain what's going on today and what's coming up in the near future.
0725 - Proceed down six levels at best speed to grab chow before turn to.
0740 - Refill the coffee cup and proceed down two levels to the smoke pit. Wonder if that First Class Petty Officer from admin ever leaves the smoke pit.
0745 - Proceed back up six levels to the bridge to sign the 8 o'clock position report. Wonder when you're going to get your paperwork done while you're stuck on the bridge all day, monitoring the bridge watch as they sail back and forth within half a mile of shoals. Call the chief to get him to come relieve you at 1030 so you can see the XO to review your departmental work plan for the next inport period and get lunch.
0800 - Make sure the first landing craft is departing the well deck.
0815 - The Captain asks you why the ship is limited to a particular speed when flooding ballast tanks. Go to the chart house and get the ballasting instruction and wet well manual so you can research while monitoring the ship's position.
0845 - Ballast Control calls the bridge to report that #2 HPU has tripped offline and they're investigating the cause. OOD repeats back the report and goes back to what he was doing. Captain asks the OOD what an HPU is. OOD answers with a blank look. Join the Captain in a round of "stump the chump", asking the OOD questions about how the ballast system works, making sure to note at the end to find the OOD and make sure he knows the answers to the unanswered questions by the end of the day.
0920 - Report to the Captain what you found out about restrictions on ballasting, make a note to give the DCA a heads up that the Captain will be asking why we observe a particular restriction while ballasting.
0930 - Duck into the chart house and print out the inport work list and review it. Make a couple of calls to find answers to questions the XO will ask.
1015 - Chief arrives. Fill him in on what's been completed and what's left to do with the landing craft.
1020 - Climb down six levels to the smoke pit, then back up seven to Debark Control to see the XO and review the work list.
1055 - Climb down five levels to the wardroom for lunch. Gripe that the cooks have put corn dogs on the line three days in a row and that the cake is the consistency of coral.
1125 - Climb down two levels to the smoke pit.
1135 - Climb up six levels, stopping at the wardroom to refill your coffee, to the bridge and sign the twelve o'clock position report. Review and sign the celestial navigation workbook and compass log. Ensure the Quartermaster shot an azimuth to the sun to check gyro error, and is prepared to observe local apparent noon. Tell the JOOD to observe LAN for training alongside the Quartermaster. Savor the look of dread on the JOOD's face.
1210 - Proceed to the at-sea cabin to read e-mail and message traffic.
1230 - Wonder if it's worth getting half an hour of sleep before the department head meeting. Blog instead.
1300 - Proceed down four levels to the Captain's inport cabin for department head meeting.
1330 - Proceed down two levels for a smoke. Bum one because you left your pack next to the computer.
1345 - Go up two levels to see the Operations Officer to check on any changes to the schedule.
1355 - Proceed up four levels to CIC to check the current schedule and identify and time-distance problems in the proposed changes. Stop in flag plot to ask why you, as the flag navigator, weren't consulted when the schedule was changed.
1415 - Inform Ops that we can execute the proposed changes and return to the bridge to check on the progress of the landing craft. Ask the OOD what his plan is to get the ship to the flight operations area once the landing craft are back.
1430 - Return to the at-sea cabin to work on evaluations.
1530 - After the landing craft are recovered, go to the bridge to see if the plan the OOD is executing is the same plan he briefed to you earlier. Review the results of the two observations of local apparent noon. Make a note to have Ensign Slipknot do it again tomorrow.
1545 - Return to the at-sea cabin to check e-mail again. Wonder if it's worth taking a nap this late in the day. Surf some blogs.
1612 - An e-mail from your detailer pops in your inbox. It says "Call me ASAP. We need to discuss some further options WRT your timing." F--k! Standing by to get slammed. Contemplate the possibilities and pray that there isn't a trip to Baghdad in your future. Spend the next twenty minutes trying to get a phone line off the ship.
1630 - Go down six levels to the smoke pit, then back up two to the wardroom for supper.
1700 - Climb up four levels to the bridge, review the eight o'clock reports and begin preparing the night orders. Review the night's schedule. Call the Chief Engineer and Combat Systems Officer to find out what's broken and what's fixed. Make sure the planning chart is ready for the evening operations brief. Wonder if you're detailer's still at work, and try to get a phone line.
1750 - Go down four decks to the wardroom lounge for 8 o'clock reports.
1815 - after eights, duck in the wardroom for a cup of coffee and an ice cream cone.
1835 - Go down two decks to the smoke pit.
1850 - Go up two decks to the wardroom for the operations brief. Brief the ship's movements for tomorrow and finish up the night orders during the current intel segment at the end of the brief. Corner your stump the chump victim and see if he's got answers to the questions.
1930 - Meet the XO and Captain at the head table to get them to review and sign the night orders. Explain what training is planned for the bridge officers during the night.
1950 - Climb back up four levels to the bridge to drop off the night orders and sign the 2000 position report. Make sure the OOD understands what's in the night orders and the Quartermaster is going to take a celestial fix at twilight.
2005 - Wonder whether it's worth going back down to the smoke pit or whether you should just go to bed - your next watch starts at 2145. Lie down and set your alarm for 2115.
2115 - Alarm goes off. Grab your coffee cup and head for the wardroom. Have a PB&J and two glasses of chocolate milk to get you through to 0300. Watch twenty minutes of a movie that you've seen other parts of before, but never the end - or beginning for that matter.
2135 - Report to the smoke pit, for two this time.
2145 - Return to CIC, ducking in flag plot on the way, and take the watch.
2200 - Make sure the OOD knows which box to go to after flight operations.
2215 - Make sure all the right publications are broken out for the night's junior officer training package with other ships and that the radio circuit is up.
2300 - Tell the track supervisor to make the trackers pay attention.
2315 - Sit down with another officer to review material that will be covered in his warfare qualification oral board.
2355 - Check the time and contemplate what tomorrow will be like, after a 24-hour day, and on just seven hours of sleep in two nights. Go to the chart room to get the coffee cup you left there and head to the wardroom.

So, there you are. Twenty-four hours of meetings, training, busy work, crisis management, coffee and cigarettes later, you're exhausted and half-conscious but know you'll have a rewarding satisfaction with all you've accomplished down the road. Oh, and the best part is, you've only got three more hours to go in your day!