Friday, May 27, 2016

Sunrise and Sunset

I was up for sunrise this morning, and I'm about to head out onto the foc'sle to watch sunset. I didn't actually see the sun pop over the horizon this morning -- our boat launching course put it on the opposite side of the ship, but I did spend about 30 minutes watching the sun light the clouds across the sky, coloring the higher ones a dazzling pink, but leaving the lower ones dark and grey somehow. 

I couldn't resist checking on it at least once, though. When I did, the sun was already about two inches above the water, shining brightly through a cloud as it rained. A few minutes later, a rainbow materialized out in front of us. 

Just checked -- still have about five minutes before I'll start to miss good stuff for this evening's sunset. Right now all there is to see are green specks in front of my eyes from glancing at the blazing ball of fire.

Since this may be my last patrol (ever), one of my personal goals is to watch at least sunrise or sunset every day, and hopefully both. So far so good. The early morning migrant transfers make catching sunrise doable, and I've had to be careful about how I schedule Evening Reports to make sure sunset fits into the plan of the day. No two are ever alike, and some are so subtle as to be...unremarkable, but the very idea of including a totally non-work related ritual that I can only experience at sea appeals to me. 

My five minutes is up. Off to sunset.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
**UNDERWAY**

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A "Quiet" Day

I say "quiet" in quotation marks because we still had migrant transfers with
two other cutters, moving a total of 51 people, rendezvoused with a station
small boat for a personnel transfer, and made a logistics run with our own
cutter boat. We're still sheltering over 100 additional people onboard the
ship. And every watch station is on a one-in-four rotation, with three hour
watches. There were still a number of changes to the plan of the day, and I
know OPS is juggling so many cases he feels like he could *teach* clown
school. 

But it felt a little more steady state. The overall plan seems to be holding
for now; we're just managing the details. I say "we...," I mean "OPS." He's
doing an amazing job of keeping track of everything, rattling off case and
individual numbers like he's reading from his notes. He said he almost lost
the bubble at one point, but was able to take about 45 minutes yesterday to
wrestle it all back under control.

We'll see what happens when the weather settles down later this week. I
suspect the pace will pick up again. 

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
**UNDERWAY**

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Randomness of Birthrights

I'd really like to write about what we did today...while at the same time, I
think I need some time to process it mentally before it's ready for public
consumption. We had a very busy day. Before it had even started, the plan
had already gone through about three iterations, with early boat ops
combined with logistics runs that then got changed to just a personnel drop
off then moving quickly into receiving migrants from an FRC and another boat
run to complete the personnel transfer (both inbound and outbound) and
setting up the tent on the foc'sle because the flight deck was filling up
and then receiving more migrants from another FRC and having the logistics
run work out well just differently than what we had planned and then another
transfer of migrants off to another FRC for repatriation tomorrow and one
more boat run tonight to take people ashore. 

Those are the broad strokes, anyway. I thought lots today about how the life
I live comes down in so many ways to the arbitrariness of my birthplace. The
most significant difference between me and the people trying to come into
the US illegally by the maritime route is simply that I was born in the US
and they were not. It has little to do with hard work, intelligence, or
tenacity. Because, while those are definitely traits within me that have
gotten me to the success I enjoy, without my original stroke of luck to be
born a US citizen, I would not have had the same opportunities to turn those
traits into standing on the deck of a Coast Guard ship, telling other
hardworking, intelligent, tenacious people they had to find another way to
success this day. Imagining myself without that birthright, it's easy to see
me in their shoes. 

Now, at the end of this very busy day, that helps me with two things: being
so very grateful for the fluke of my existence, the happenstance of
privilege, the benefits of opportunity I did nothing more to earn that be
born in a free country; and finding that much more compassion for each
individual as they come onboard. It's easy to get frustrated with the
constant press and the stress of having so many people to look after,
figuring out all the logistics of keeping them safe while keeping ourselves
safe, that every reminder and illustration of our common humanity gets me
that much further through the day.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
**UNDERWAY**

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Best Awful Day Ever

I'm not even sure what to say about today. It's not over yet, so who knows 
what is yet to come. So far, though, I have been delighted with some great 
experiences even in the face of some really crappy circumstances.

My tooth ache from two patrols came back. Raging back. With angry and fiery 
vengeance. On Friday afternoon. The day before we got underway. I asked Doc 
(HS2 TW) for something stronger than 200 mg of ibuprofen which just wasn't 
cutting through the pounding agony in my face. He gave me 800 mg of ibuprofen 
which I could take one every eight hours. It wore off after five.

In the meantime, we got down to the oparea, met up with four other cutters, 
embarked over 140 migrants and some contraband that went immediately down to 
lock up. Nothing like jumping in with both feet, as CO said over the 1MC when 
we had about half the transfers done.

Finally, Monday morning arrived, and I took the first opportunity I could to 
get set up with dental sick call at the local MTF (military treatment 
facility). I rode in on the Station 45' Response Boat-Medium (RB-M) when they 
came out to drop some partner agency representatives off to us. The ride in 
was glorious; flat calm about an hour after dawn, not too many boats out and 
about, and we tied up right as the base was observing morning colors. The duty 
HS from last night told me exactly what I needed to do this morning, and the 
HS3 at the clinic was ready and waiting for me. Logistics had a GV all ready 
for me to go, and by 0900 I was filling out paperwork at the dentist's office.

The awful part of the experience was the tooth extraction. Never done that 
before. Never want to do that again. 'Nuff said.

On the brighter side, the dentist and all his assistants were thoughtful, kind 
and seemed to truly care about providing good service. The dentist was very 
concerned that he couldn't find a smoking gun for my discomfort, but was much 
more confident once he heard the whole back story about a pending extraction 
that I hadn't gotten done yet. He explained everything thoroughly, and his 
technician was very apologetic for having to jam the big x-ray frame all the 
way back into my mouth to get the roots of the molars in the picture. I was 
even lucky enough that the office had one cancellation and one no show so they 
could do the procedure straightaway and take their time with it.

I was back in Coast Guard territory by 1145, even with a stop at the grocery 
store for soft foods so I had something to eat for the next few days without 
making special requests to the cooks onboard. It took a few moments to figure 
out how I was going to get back to DILIGENCE, but that just gave me time to 
gather up all the parts and packages that had been delivered to us for 
transport back to the ship. It was gonna be Christmas in May when I got back 
to the ship!

Our cutter boat made a run in, dropping off some of those partner agency 
representatives who had quickly finished what they needed to do onboard. BM2 
CJ and MK3 CC loaded the packages all into the boat, and away we went.

What a glorious ride we had out to the ship. It took about 20 minutes at 30+ 
knots, and once we got away from the traffic-ridden harbor area, we *flew* 
over the glassy calm water. I saw a fish boil about 30 yards off the port bow, 
with silver and grey flashes churning all over each other. And the fresh air 
smelled damp and briny with a hint of fishiness. The ship was far off on the 
horizon, barely a spot when I first saw it. It grew larger, with more details 
coming into focus until I could see the individual faces peering at me from 
the flight deck and fantail. We have a new migrant tent for the flight deck 
that, if possible, even improves the lines of a very good looking ship. 
         DILIGENCE framed by DILI 1. Just another day at the office.

So, what could have been a shitty day turned out to be a string of really good 
things one after the other. Love it when that happens!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
**UNDERWAY**

Sunday, May 22, 2016

TSTA, Week 3 -- aka The Clean Sweep

We did it! Clean sweep at TSTA! Our last three drills on Monday went off
incredibly well, and by Monday afternoon at 1500, we were moored back up and
only had school house training and our Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) left.
BM3 JR was our MVP for Monday, displaying some mad Investigator techniques,
discovering damage and making sure existing damage didn't spread throughout
the ship. Our final drill score averages for each warfare area were: Command
and Control at 99.33%, Engineering at 100%!!!!, Damage Control at 95.37%,
and Seamanship at 97.56%. All Onboard Training Teams were certified
effective. 

Mike drop.

On Tuesday we sent about eight people to Rescue Swimmer school to play in
the pool for most of the morning, while the rest of us enjoyed either a
relatively easy day of duty or a day of liberty. SN RS was Tuesday's MVP; he
was already qualified as a Rescue Swimmer, having finished his PQS during
the inport and did a great job helping the other members get through their
training.

Wednesday was a workday for the crew, and we sent about 25 people to Basic
Fire Fighting school. They had some class room time, and then donned fire
protective garments (FPGs) and went into the fire house to practice hose
handling techniques. FN NB was Wednesday's MVP for his enthusiasm with the
training.

Thursday dawned clear and warm. The ITT brief started at 0645 and we set the
Fast Cruise environment at 0730 for our FEP. The FEP requires integration of
as many training teams as possible, loss of critical leadership positions
and damage in numerous spaces -- so we had to come up with a pretty
catastrophic event. Our scenario was pretty far-fetched...something about a
minefield laid across the Florida Straits so the drug trafficking
organizations (DTOs) could have a direct route for shipping their product to
the US. DILIGENCE lost steering (as best we could simulate tied to the pier)
and drove into the mine field. We took two mine hits, lots of damage and our
Damage Control Assistant (DCA, who directs damage control efforts in a
General Quarters scenario), Repair Locker Leader, and On Scene Leader all
were injured and not able to perform their duties. CO was standing on the
bridge wing looking over the side of the ship at the second mine strike and
fell overboard. All simulated, of course. 

It was a good drill. Even though it was pretty chaotic, we had fun with it.
The crew was enthusiastic and energetic. The training teams were engaged and
made sure events happened in the right order. Out of the 10 drill cards we
had to grade, I think we passed nine of them. Not that it really had any
bearing on our overall TSTA score -- we already had that in the bag!

Thursday's MVP was SN BS from the group that went to the Wet Trainer to
practice combating flooding damage. While everyone on the crew did a great
job with the FEP, all the folks that really stood out had already earned
their MVP t-shirt. 

We also recognized an overall MVP for TSTA which was DC2 AC for his
sustained energy and positivity throughout CART preps and TSTA. Our overall
Training Team member was LCDR TD, our EO. He took great personal pride in
getting DCTT through CART and TSTA, everyone agreed he earned it 100 times
over.

Despite all the success with TSTA, Thursday was a sad(ish) day. We had a
bunch of people leave to start their transfers to their next duty station.
I'm always excited to see people head off to their next assignment, but sad
to see them go because I *like* our crew. Thursday afternoon was a flurry of
logistics -- Quarters with award presentations, van runs to the airport,
vehicle swaps and loading of our GV to head back to Wilmington. We also had
a bunch of people show up the last two days of TSTA, both TAD and permanent
party folks.

And when we sailed out of the harbor enroute our patrol area, we had a brand
new, clean broom flying proudly from the starboard yardarm. Clean sweep,
indeed!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
Quarterdeck: 910-815-4528
Cell: 910-367-3328

Sunday, May 15, 2016

TSTA, Week 2

To end the suspense I know you're all in -- last Friday's (6 May) MVP was HS2 TW. He was on duty that day, and when our shipmate collapsed in pain after tripping over first base, he rushed over to help with first aid and follow up medical care. He drove the guy to the onbase medical facility, sat with him and um, pressed for attention when most of the people in the clinic were not hopping to help on a lazy Friday afternoon. It wasn't necessarily TSTA-related, but it was definitely the attitude and actions we like to see from our crew.

After a wonderfully relaxing weekend, some time on beautiful beaches, and maybe a small amount of work on my part (truly, only about 2 hours over the whole weekend), Monday brought more medical and damage control (DC) drills. Monday morning we had a fight on the messdeck; some disagreement among the deckies about being told to clear off the messdeck so the mess cooks could clean. It was a raucous fight and we had crewmembers suffer from a sucking chest wound, a facial fracture, a compound fracture of the leg, a big long cut on the arm, an evisceration, and one guy passed out from all the blood. This was *of course* all simulated for our mass casualty drill, so the first responders had to triage all the different casualties and determine which were most life threatening and needed attending first. After the mass casualty drill, we ran a bunch more stand-alone medical casualties, and finished up all our required medical drills.

Monday afternoon, we were in a fast cruise environment, where we simulate being underway, with watches stood up on the bridge, in CIC and in Main Control, but with lines and shoreties still connected. Honestly, I don't remember exactly what drills we ran on Monday afternoon or all day Tuesday. They're a blur of training team briefs and debriefs, pipes, manned and ready reports, casualty reports, simulated damage all over the ship. Monday's MVP was FS1 DP for his response as the leader in BDS (Battle Dressing Station), responding to the mass casualty and all the individual medical drills. He directed efforts of all the first responders and other members of BDS.

Between Monday afternoon and Tuesday, we knocked out *a lot* of our DC drills, and had an ITT (Integrated Training Team) drill where an engineering casualty (run by ETT, the Engineering Training Team) cascaded into a main space fire (run by DCTT, the Damage Control Training Team). We have to do three-ish ITTs for ATG to show that our OBTTs (Onboard Training Teams) can work together to train for complex scenarios.

Tuesday's MVP was BM3 WF, earned for his energy in responding to casualties. BM3 is our boundaryman for casualties -- he goes to the area around the damage to make sure the boundaries are set and the damage does not spread. For fire, he breaks out a fire hose, charges it and pulls all combustible material away from the bulkhead shared by the space on fire. For flooding, he makes sure water tight closures are secured and bulkheads and overheads are not sagging or hogging, which could indicate potential failure of the watertight boundary. He was out, on scene almost before the pipe describing the damage was complete -- which is a huge help because we have 5 minutes to set the top boundary for a fire (heat rises, so it's important to get this set quickly) and 7 minutes for the horizontal boundaries (side by side to the damage). The time standards are so we get maximum points on the scored drill.

We got underway on Wednesday primarily to conduct our gunnery exercise (GUNEX), but also to do our BECCEs (basic engineering casualty control exercises), which simulate various types of damage to equipment in the engine room to which the watchstanders must respond. We did BECCEs on the way out to the firing range, and on the way back in. We had to redo one, a Class C fire in the switchboard, I think because the training team got a little ahead of themselves, and talked the watchstander into securing power before they really should have. But, by the end of the day, we'd finished up with BECCEs -- our second warfare area finished! With a 100% drill score average!! And our MVP from Wednesday was from the engine room watch team; MK2 GF responded to casualty after casualty in the sweltering engine room, quickly restoring functionality of the propulsion and power plant. This was another hard choice for MVPs, because MK2 wasn't down there by himself. EM2 TB and other engineers were also strong contenders.

The GUNEX almost wasn't. We got shot all the rounds we needed to from the .50 cal machine guns, training on warning shots, disabling fire and destructive fire for two gunners and loaders on each gun. But the 25 mm gun got cantankerous after drilling about 10 rounds down range. Our gunnersmates were pretty frustrated, having worked through electrical problems on the gun for months with out finding a smoking gun (ugh -- just couldn't help myself), other than the gun didn't work. The GM from ATG was able to look at it with a fresh set of eyes, and helped figure out a work around so we could get the remaining rounds shot. We all sighed a huge relief when the GUNEX was done -- this is one area that so many ship have troubles with that ATG gives a six-month waiver to reattempt the GUNEX as a matter of course. Finishing the GUNEX wrapped up our Combat Systems warfare area. I don't remember the drill score average, but I'm pretty sure it was above 95%.

We were underway again on Thursday, overnight into Friday, getting underway a little later in the day because we knew we had a late-ish night planned. We started off with rerunning our loss of gyro drill on the outbound transit, and finally passed it (I suspect running it for practice on the way outbound and inbound on Wednesday helped significantly with that). Then we moved right into towing and astern refueling. The tug that helped us get underway (don't ask -- the port we're in has compulsory pilot and tug requirements because one too many ships has bashed their piers trying to moor unassisted. I understand the necessity, but I still think *we* don't really need it) stayed on scene with us and acted as our "disabled vessel" that needed towing. We had a perfect day for it, with a light breeze from the southeast, no chop and the slightest of swells from the east.

WEPS made two beautiful approaches, both times getting within 75 feet (yes, feet; not yards) at a super slow speed to allow the fantail sufficient time to make a couple of attempts to get the heaving line across. SN JB heaved a spectacular throw, stretching the heaving line out its full length perfectly across the tug in front of the pilot house. And about 45 minutes later, after lengthening the tow to 400 feet, making a 30 degree turn with the tug in tow, shortening the tow and passing back a fueling hose, we broke the tow, and the tug headed back to port. Their comment to OPS on the radio just prior to departing was best approach and heaving line throw they'd seen in 12 years of playing TOWEX.

But the day was barely started for us. We attempted a loss of steering drill after the tow, but missed a few things on it. I agreed with OPS to try to rejigger the schedule to fit it in somewhere.

Next was our precision anchorage. Our bearing takers on either bridge wing shot continuous bearings to our head bearing and drop bearing, and our radar operator gave ranges to the drop range. We ended up about 67 yards off our planned drop point, so we lost 5 points for being more than 50 yards off. But we passed the precision anchorage with 80% -- something that ATG told us only 10% of ships are able to do on the first try.

I'm getting to the point where I feel like I'm bragging overly much about our prowess with all these different evolutions. But screw it! I'm gonna keep bragging. This crew works so well together, even when things aren't going well, with everyone so dedicated to the overall team effort. Do I think we're the best at what we do? Hell, yes! And it's always nice to hear an impartial, unbiased affirmation of that from outside sources.

We stayed anchored until just after dinner and some meeting or another, maybe a DCTT planning meeting. Then we got underway to try the loss of steering again, and wait for sunset to do our shipboard and small boat man overboard (MOB) drills at night. We passed all on the first try...though it did take a little longer than usual to recover all the life rings from the MOB shipboard pick up. It was getting late, and I think the darkness messed with folks' depth perception a little. ATG finished up with their debrief, and we small boated them back in at about 2130. Our small boat was back onboard, cradled and secured for sea by about 2215. Long ass day.

SN JB was Thursday's MVP for that epic heaving line throw that got our tow hooked up on the first try. It really was a thing of beauty.

ATG was back onboard by 0745 the next morning, brought out by our friendly tug. We had a day full of ITTs planned. Our first ITT was a General Quarters (GQ) drill. GQ1 is our highest state of readiness for when we find ourselves in a high threat environment. The make-believe scenario that drove the GQ state was that we were on patrol in JIATF-South's AOR and had been successful with multiple drug busts, and had large quantities of contraband stored onboard. The drug trafficking organization (DTO) wasn't too happy about that, and threatened to take back their drugs by any means necessary. They tried, including getting off an RPG hit and machine gun fire at us before we demolished their vessel. But the RPG hit and machine gun strafe did some damage that our repair lockers responded to. It was a fun drill, and we successfully fought and saved the ship.

Friday afternoon's drill was another main space fire, with other associated casualties from other training teams' warfare areas. DCTT was in evaluation mode, so we could only ask "leading questions" to get watchstanders to do what they were supposed to do, instead of directing them. But we got a 100% on the drill -- again something not many ships can do for a main space fire in eval mode.

EM3 JN was Friday's MVP, again selected from a robust pool of candidates. I don't remember what his specific job is for our various casualty scenarios, but he responded enthusiastically and correctly to whatever was thrown his way.

We moored outboard of another ship Friday afternoon, just before the skies opened up with a thunderous deluge of rain. And with that mooring, we finished all drills required for Navigation and Seamanship. Three warfare areas down. One to go.

We start next week with only three drills to go. I am strenuously optimistic that we'll be able to get through them, and make it look easy. However, in amusing and frustrating contrast to all the amazing feats of teamwork we saw throughout the week, we did have a couple less than stellar moments. Tuesday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk having changed out of my uniform into civilian clothes to work in comfort on the admin stuff I had neglected during a day full of drills.

DINGDINGARINGADINGARING. Now set General Emergency in accordance with the main space fire doctrine. There has been the report of a major fuel oil leak in the engineering vestibule. All hands respond in today's duty section respond from Repair III. Traffic pattern is up and forward on starboard, down and aft on port.

Right around the major fuel oil leak part of the pipe, I was on my way off the ship to muster on the pier with the rest of the folks who were onboard, but not in the duty section. They could call us to help from there if they needed it. Once EO came up to the flight deck, I got the full scoop. The Fuel Oil Water King was transferring fuel to the day tanks in preparation for our upcoming day underway on Wednesday. He didn't align all the valves exactly right, so he kept pumping fuel into a tank that was already full, and when he opening the sounding tube to sound the tank, fuel geysered out of the sounding tube. The duty section responded perfectly, and applied many of the lessons they had just learned during the previous week's inport drills. We got the mess cleaned up within about 90 minutes. Our mishap report is pending.

And, at this point having described all we did this past week, I simply can't muster the energy to bash the guys who brought us Yokohama fenders when we moored outboard that other ship on Wednesday. Their boat's number was BB-3, which quickly became known for the three bumbling bozos onboard. It took them nearly an hour to pass us two fenders, amidst the dropped lines, yards and yards of heaving lines jumbled into knots and general dip-shittedness. Circus music played in the background.

Seriously -- three more drills next week. I think we got this.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Stumbled, Then I Blinked

My blogging resolve flagged for a day or two at the end of last patrol. I didn't meet my goals. I think I got distracted with Key West and the transit home. Not gonna beat myself up about it, just acknowledge it, and try to do better next time.

And then I blinked, and our less than 60-day inport is almost over. I knew that was going to happen. We tried to pack about 90 pounds of potatoes into a 55 pound sack...figuratively speaking. Here are some highlights that I can remember without my calendar in front of me:

We started a six-week fitness series called DILIFit! the week after we got back. Every Tuesday (except for one, which was on Monday because of an inspection) at noon, we invited the public to come work out with the crew during our regular weekly workout time. We had no idea how much participation to expect, but a couple locals joined us at each session. We also had lots of media interest: http://www.wwaytv3.com/2016/03/22/diligence-crew-hosts-workout/
http://portcitydaily.com/2016/03/16/diligence-crew-community-bands-together-for-first-waterfront-exercise/
http://www.wect.com/story/31465521/get-fit-with-the-crew-from-the-coast-guard-cutter-diligence
The Port City loves them some DILIGENCE.

At the end of March, we hosted members from Afloat Training Group (ATG) Mayport onboard for our Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART). We spent months preparing for CART, to the point that I was glad when it finally arrived because it meant it was almost over, and we could stop obsessing about it. During the three days of CART, ATG goes over about eleven checklists that the command (DILIGENCE) is supposed to have assessed themselves against before ATG's arrival. We also do a bunch of drills so ATG can evaluate our onboard Training Teams' abilities to train the crew, including integrating into an Integrated Training Team (ITT) to conduct more elaborate drills. The eleven checklists total over 1800 line items. We had 17 discrepancies, five that were training restrictive (we're not safe to train until these discrepancies are corrected) and 12 minor discrepancies. I'd say a discrepancy rate of 0.1% is equivalent to knocking it out of the park -- though our TLO (Training Liaison Officer) did say that was the *second* lowest discrepancy rate they had seen; another ship only had two minor discrepancies. Most days I'd rather be happy than be the best :) Our onboard Training Teams did very well also. All but one were assessed as Ready to Train. We're sailing with members from ATG on our shakedown cruise to get the remaining Training Team some assistance from ATG's LTT (Limited Training Team). All this CART stuff is in preparation for TSTA (Tailored Ship's Training Availability, pronounced "tis-ta"). That starts for us here in another week-ish, and is 15 workdays during which we have to do all our mandated drills as listed on some list -- I can't remember the name right now -- but it's about 90 drills for our seven onboard Training Teams, including ITT. FORCECOM loves them some acronyms.

TSTA will be busy, but it's a great opportunity for the crew to focus on nothing but training. I'm grateful a few of our new folks are transferring in during TSTA so they'll get the benefit of all the training before transfer season really goes into full swing and we lose all our fully qualified members.

Ok, so after CART, we headed full bore into the 69th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival the very next week. We hosted the official party of about 44 people onboard the ship for a VIP reception as the opening event, just prior to the Queen's Crowning on Wednesday. The city started shutting down roads around downtown on Tuesday for some of the events, which made it tricky for the crew to get to the ship. Wilmington Downtown, Inc. was **awesome** and came through with 50 parking passes for crewmembers so we could pass through the road barriers to get to the ship more easily -- which was a *huge* help come Saturday, when about 10 blocks surrounding the ship were all closed off for the parade. We were the 137th float in the parade, with the crew walking (not marching!) in front of our GV-towed Cutter Boat-Large (CB-L). We invited family members to walk with us, and all the kids rode in the CB-L, along with ENS Emma Lutton, our Student Engineer, who wasn't in uniform, but was instead fulfilling her duties as Miss Southern States, a title she won at the beginning of the year! And we also were open for tours to the public for Friday, Saturday and Sunday for six hours each day. We had over 1,600 people onboard during the course of the three days, with display tables set up on the pier with crew reps talking about maritime law enforcement, damage control, navigation and rescue and assistance. I worked the line, talking to people waiting for their tour, on Sunday afternoon. I gave them a little information about the ship, her missions, crew, and history, and answered whatever questions they came up with. It was fun...but I was exhausted at the end of the day, especially since Sunday turned out to be our busiest day -- giving tours for 710 people! CGRC (Coast Guard Recruiting Command) loves them some Azalea Festival.

Starting Monday after Azalea Festival, we had a contractor onboard to conduct a Watertight Closure Assessment. It's a program that EO pushed really hard to get back after it fell out of favor at the Product Line (our maintenance oversight) a few years ago because it helps EO with making sure the ship stays watertight -- just a little important so WE DON'T SINK!!! The contractors took apart, inspected, renewed and put back together all 71 watertight enclosures (including doors, hatches and scuttles) onboard the ship, documented their findings and trained our DCPOs (Damage Control Petty Officers, the members from each division that are responsible for maintaining damage control equipment in their spaces for their respective divisions, pronounced "dee-see pee oh"). They chipped away degraded metal, renewed welds, gaskets and dogs (the fittings that tighten down to keep water out), and generally kept themselves and our DCPOs busy from 0730 to 1500 each day. They also provided the ship and the Product Line with a very detailed summary of their findings, what they fixed, and what they were unable to fix that either needs to be done by ship's force or included in the next maintenance availability (i.e., drydock or dockside). EO loves him some DC readiness.

That Friday, we hosted a local business appreciation open house. We asked crew members to invite their favorite local (small) businesses by passing out copies of the CO's invitation, to come down for a tour and a little time with the crew to show our appreciation of their efforts to make Wilmington such a great homeport. Again, we had no idea of how many people to expect, but we had about 15 crewmembers stay after the workday to mingle. We only had about eight local folks show up. I think, though, that this really is a case of the thought is what counts because while people may not have been able to leave their businesses on a pretty Friday afternoon for a Coast Guard boondoggle, at least they know we recognize their efforts to make the area so welcoming. DILIGENCE loves them some Port City.

And don't forget, we're still doing DILIFit! every Tuesday.

At this point, I tapped out for a couple of days off while I had some friends in town, though I did go in that Monday for the last Department Head meeting of the inport, and on Tuesday for our required annual Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness training. I also spent some time in a tattoo shop that week...bzzz bzz bzzzzzz...my arm is still healing. Love me some new ink.

While all this other stuff was going on, the rest of the ship's work was happening in the background. Enlisted and officer evaluations, budget angst (never enough money) and 2nd Quarter FY16 closeout, property inspections, maintenance, training, ramping up for transfer season (scheduling inbound and outbound dates, award prep, making sure we have enough racks), patrol planning and preps (our patrol plan changed no less than five times during the course of the middle two weeks of this inport -- OPS was about ready to throw his draft CONOP (concept of operations) overboard). We did regular tours, special tours for JROTC, homeschool and pre-school groups, and hosted a few special guests onboard for lunch.

After writing all this, I kind of feel like this inport was the half-mile long steep-ass hill at Mile 11 in the Battleship Half Marathon I ran back in November. I was so close to the finish line (less than three months left onboard DILI) and I wouldn't let myself quit, but the grade of that incline (pace of the inport) was a *bitch* of energy expenditure, right when I didn't necessarily have it left to spare. Collectively, we (DILI's crew) put together an exceptional effort this inport. We tackled every event with thorough preparation, positive enthusiasm and lots of energy, and the results enhanced the ship's and crew's reputation -- and that's definitely something we can be proud of!