Friday, March 19, 2010


The photo has nothing to do with the title of the post at all. But yesterday being St. Patrick's Day, we authorized green t-shirts for the crew. MKC Tarker is looking forward, rising above all the silliness; Green Man is SN Ryan Andres; next is Bobby Light, I mean MK3 Tony Collado; then FS2 Ed Stickel; then XO, LTJG Frank Reed; and then SN Aaron Pasoquen. XO was sporting his green tee under the uniform blouse...classy.

Andres did change into a regular t-shirt (green) for Special Sea Detail and mooring stations. But the shock value of coming up onto the bridge and seeing Green Man was great. XO only had about three hours of sleep when he came face-to-face with Green Man on entering the bridge; the look on his face was priceless.

So about this balance thing...I guess I used to think that work was balanced by personal life, and vice versa. You know, one could be good and one bad, but as long as they weren't both bad at the same time, you'd be ok. I used to love chemical equations and algebra equations in high school; they made so much sense...if something happened on one side of the equation, there were effects on the other that were predictable and definable. But I'm coming to find out that balance comes in all different shapes and sizes, and the sides don't always add up. Last week gave me some good lessons in balance.

When last we left KISKA on the blogosphere last Thursday, she was plagued by an evil gremlin vibrating the bejeezus out of the starboard shaft. Theories abounded about the genealogy and motivation of the gremlin. Had we hit something that damaged the propeller? Had the ship settled into herself after all the metal/structural work during drydock last summer and then been aggravated into a little tweak with all the slamming against the state pier? Did we just have basic alignment problems? We knew it had something to do with the bearing, because there were little bits of shredded rubber in the cooling water around the bearing. But how badly damaged was the bearing?

The big question was, is the vibration causing the bearing to go bad, or is the bearing causing the vibration? Chicken, meet Egg; Egg, meet Chicken...but who got here first? Measurements were taken to check the shaft alignment. They weren't conclusive, nor were they repeatable. The lack of repeatability and rubber shavings in the cooling water convinced me (in all my engineering expertise and knowledge--please note dripping sarcasm) that the bearing had to be bad...destroyed beyond repair and usability. I was certain we were gonna have to go back into ugh, don't say it, don't even *think* it, drydock.

But thank goodness there's people out there with way more engineering acumen than me, and the Product Line had us to send divers down to check a few other things. The divers started to dive on Friday afternoon (we were kinda busy on Friday morning with DVs...oh my god, he reads my blog!!! Eeek!), but we had to stop them because they didn't have all the people they needed to do the dive safely. So they came back on Monday.

Skip ahead to Monday (because even though lots of great stuff happened over the weekend and it's another part of the balance equation, it ruins the lines of the story to tell about it here). The divers went down, installed a coffer dam, allowing us to break free the shaft seal and move the bearing around to actually get a look at it (Any engineers reading, please forgive me if I don't have all the parts in quite the right place). Once it was all torn apart, we could see rubber shavings all over the shaft and around the bearing. But the bearing was still within clearances, and all alignment measurements were reasonable. So, it wasn't likely alignment, which is really good. And the bearing wasn't shot, which is really good. Both of those add up to no need for an emergency drydock.

The prevailing theory is that there was some schmegma (technical term used by MKC Tarker, so I know it's real...I just hope I spelled it right) in the line that supplies cooling water to the bearing, possibly new rust since the line had been renewed during last summer's drydock. Once the cooling water line got a little plugged up and restricted the flow of cooling water, the rubber on the bearing heated up and started sticking to the shaft as it spun. Since all this is right next to a structural frame on the ship, the reverberations transmitted throughout the ship. And once the bearing started to shred, the shreddings exacerbated the problem and completely closed off the cooling water from reaching the shaft.

Ninjaneers staked that bastard gremlin *right* through his evil little heart!

We hope...we monitored it during the 200-plus mile transit back to homeport with no recurrences of the vibration or any extra heating of the cooling water around the bearing. We'll continue to monitor over the next few underway periods just to make sure.

So what does all this have to do with balance? Well, while this particular part of my professional experience was providing plenty of frustration, anger, discontent and general mayhem, other parts of my professional experience have been amazingly rewarding. The feedback I've gotten about this blog lately has been overwhelming. I'm really not used to being so highly praised. Sure, I do a good job and all, but my readers have been stunningly and vocally supportive recently (for which I am inexpressibly grateful! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!).

Slightly tangential aside: You may have heard that KISKA did a speed mentoring session recently. One of the questions that was posed to my group was, "How do you define success?" I was stumped. You'd think this was an easy question. I know how I define success in my personal life, and I'm kinda on a delayed gratification course of action with it...I know one day I'll have my farm and I'll be able to live comfortably on it because of the hard work I'm putting in now. But professionally, I haven't taken the time to define success. I've set goals and realized them, sure. But does that mean I'm successful? I don't feel like it; I'm just a girl, doing my job. Doesn't mean I'm unsuccessful, I just don't think I've done what I need to do to label myself successful yet. Maybe it's partially that I don't think I'm old enough for Success, with a Capital S, yet :)

On the personal side of things, my family is going through kinda a tough time right now. We got some not so good news recently and are still processing how to deal with it, how it's going to affect our lives, and what it means for the future. It's stressful and uncertain and uncomfortable and sad.

But I've made great, huge strides towards accomplishing a personal goal, and I'm having blazing fun doing it. So, balance.


Dad said...

As always I love reading your blog messages. I think you are beyond successful. Deja vous that we have been having the same question and discussion about the meaning of "success" in the classes I teach at Cambridge College. We have not been able to settle on an agreeable definition because we have determined that "success" is an individual measure based on how the person feels about what they are doing or not doing and how that person handles stressors in life. In my book, you are SUCCESSFUL.

tko24 said...

I love your blog! I just stumbled across it last week.Keep up the great work!

PRcoastiemom said...

We always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for the updates regarding the Kiska and for photos of the crew. It gives those of us on the mainland a glimpse into our son's new life and reassurance that he is good hands. Thank you.

Jay said...

Success is a sticky thing to try to define or measure. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Glad to hear you're getting lots of good feedback on the blog! Keep it up.

Also it's great to hear that you're having so much fun with what you do. It makes it so much easier to do it well when it's fun.