Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm Back

It's been a while. I'm not in the desert anymore, but in Paradise instead. And I'm gonna change the format of the blog. It's not anonymous anymore, which will bring its own challenges, but will allow me to post about other aspects of my job.

So on 16 May 2009, I took command of USCGC KISKA (WPB 1336) at a lovely ceremony at the Coast Guard base on Sand Island in Honolulu, HI.
The ship is homeported in Hilo, HI, but is long-term temporarily on Oahu for drydock. Most CG drydocks are about two months...those two months were up about three weeks ago, and we've got about another two months to go. The ship had a lot of "delayed maintenance," so at least when I get it back afloat, it'll be in really good shape.

Now let me just say, I know that drydocks and extended maintenance periods are extremely necessary...things. Ships *need* the attention and care that they are afforded in drydocks. A lot of good work is done to keep them working, in this particular case, 10 years and more past their expected life cycle.

But I *hate* drydocks. This is my fifth drydock on the four ships on which I've been stationed. The ship gets torn all to pieces, holes cut in the hull, dirt and grime work themselves into places that are impossible to clean (stupid sand blasting grit gets EVERYWHERE), and nothing works quite smoothly when putting stuff all back together. While this drydock is not much fun, because there's nothing much fun about a five-month drydock, at least 1) I'm back in the beautiful United States, especially paradaisical Hawaii, and 2) I'm not living onboard, which I had to do for three weeks on one of my previous ships during an unscheduled drydock. So, there are definitely some things to be grateful for.

However, there are also trials and tribulations. And here's where the non-anonymous part of this newly refurbished blog gets tough; how to tell stories without calling out people unprofessionally? Here goes...

We had extensive damage to our sewage tank. Like holes and pitting and old clad welds where previous holes and pits had been patched. Well, we're supposed to be fixing things the right way with this drydock, so I expected the whole mess of bad metal to be cropped out and replaced. Unfortunately, we had started to run out of money for the project, so the subject matter experts started to look at alternative fixes. What they came up with was full of technical jargon and specifics (which I *almost* followed), and then they ended their recommendations with, "Coat with three coats of paint, instead of the specified two." Because that extra coat of paint is gonna make ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.

Thankfully, we were able to ask for more money and get the tank fixed the right way, but really, an extra coat of paint????

And another thing about drydocks...you know that quote, "Ports rust ships and sailors"? Well, it's true. Sailors get edgy and bored when they're inport for too long. I recently took one of my good young men to mast for saying something stupid to one of my other sailors as a joke. Unfortunately, it wasn't even close to appropriate as a joke, so I had to make sure his inappropriate comment didn't infect the good order and discipline of the ship. I dismissed the charges, but gave the young man "extra military instruction" or EMI, which is designed usually as extra work to correct a particular deficiency. And while Captain's masts are usually very somber and serious affairs, I had to stop myself from laughing out loud when I assigned this particular bit of EMI. He has to tell me an (appropriate) joke a day for two weeks.

Today's joke: What do you call a chicken coop with four doors?

Wait for it...

A chicken sedan!

Get it...chicken coupe?

I laughed.

So, that's it. I'm back.

1 comment:

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