Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sea Trials

So sorry about the technical difficulties over the last couple of days. Hopefully I've got it sorted out now.

I’ve finally got the chance to write about sea trials. Well, actually, I’ve finally got the pictures from sea trials on my computer and can now show pictures instead of just blabbing about them.

But sea trials were fantasticawesomeamazingstupendous! The weather was beautiful, with barely a breeze out of the northeast and not much of a swell at all. We took our time, knowing that most every system had been touched and that there were lots of new people onboard. We got started out of Barbers Point Harbor at just a few minutes after 10 am, with a couple of riders from the shipyard onboard.

Here’s our Project Manager, Mike…big guy in a little itty bitty life jacket. Tee hee. He brought another guy with him that puked after about an hour underway. Tee hee…Actually I *know* better than to laugh at anybody who gets seasick.

We had some pretty significant discrepancies with our navigation systems because stuff had been down for so long. But both Barber’s Point and Honolulu Harbor are very easy harbors to transit, with solid visual ranges through the narrow choke points. I was concerned about our navigation systems, but I knew it wasn’t a deal breaker that would prevent us from getting underway. So away we went.

This is my XO and FS2 prepping to cast off lines. We did propulsion tests early in the morning, to make sure the main diesel engines (MDEs) were properly hooked up and would clutch in the way they were supposed to. They did, but it’s a nerve-wracking scenario, especially on a 110. Class A and B 110s clutch in with enough power to go nine knots…that’s a lot, especially when you’ve got four lines over to the pier. And there’s a delay on the clutches, which is individual to each ship. On my last ship, port ahead and astern and starboard ahead were all about three and a half seconds, but starboard astern was barely two and a half to three seconds. And KISKA’s throttles were changed out right before the ship went into drydock in April. So I wasn’t really sure what the delays would be.

Turned out the delays were a solid five and a half seconds all around. I’d count to five in my head, think we were going too long, and then wait another split second, get anxious and tell the XO to declutch. We did that about four times on each side before I took a deep breath and let XO go with it. Eventually, we got satisfactory shaft tests. But we did them again once we were ready to go, just to make sure and for the practice of doing them.

The transit out of Barber’s Point was easy. We passed a tug on its way in, and that was it. There was brief moment of WTF when XO tried to shift steering down from the open bridge and couldn’t get it. Turned out it was operator error, and we figured it out. We may have confused a tanker coming up from the south a little bit with what aspect we were showing, but he was far enough away not to really be an issue.

All the systems tested out okay…until we got to the Oily Water Separator (OWS), which is a particularly sensitive piece of equipment in the Coast Guard recently. We had to barpat (go back and forth) a couple of times while they tried out different things. So I took a nap. Beautiful day, clear skies, no traffic, yummy lunch…what else was I supposed to do? Except my wily crew got photographic evidence…yikes! :)

Once the engineers figured out there was more wrong with the OWS than they could fix right then, we stretched our legs a little, and came up in speed. When 110s go, they really go. It’s so much fun going fast. Here’s our rooster tail at 25 knots.

At this point, I had a canary-eating grin I couldn’t get off my face.

But we couldn’t go fast forever, and we were approaching Honolulu Harbor. I asked to make the call to Aloha Tower, WHX-528 who controls traffic in the harbor, to request permission to enter. I made the call dozens of time when I was on my last 110 as XO, but there was something particularly cool about getting to call as CO. We were granted permission (it was a little anti-climatic), and then shortly we were on our approach to the pier.

XO did a great job of mooring up. There was some debate about where exactly we needed to go on the pier, given the placement of a huge Yokohama fender. But we figured it out, and got there.

And we didn’t waste anytime getting the soft patch off to start the generator change out. This picture is taken from the open bridge, looking down into the engine room...which you normally can't do.


John said...

Have to say that I'm really enjoying following your adventures. I'm glad to see you showing Coast Guard life warts and all. Too many blogs by Coasties sound more like they were written by recruiters than deckplate sailors. Keep it up.

Azulao said...

AloHA, y'all!! Very glad you had a great run. You must be insanely happy at this point. Congratulations!!!!

Just a Girl said...

I'm glad you enjoy the blog. About the warts, I think every job has it's warts. This one has some that are really frustrating, but it also has some amazing pay offs. FAC days on the Alenuihaha and watching my crew gel. It's all too easy for me to get wrapped up in the warts and forget the good stuff. Gotta work on that!