Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Patrol Highlights

Here are some highlights from our last patrol, in no particular order, and actually quite randomly delivered.

It was 16 days long. We left on 13 Jun, and got back yesterday. Before we left, MKC Wong and XO, both of whom had recently reported from larger cutters, had said that they didn't really know what to expect, but seemed skeptical that it would be as exhausting as BM1 North and I suggested it might be. Even though there are still hectic changes to the schedule and things change all the time, two weeks underway on a larger cutter is pretty easy to get through. Not so much on a WPB. MKC and I talked about it yesterday, and came up with the fact that there's really no where to get away from anyone on the 110. You're all kinda stuck together, even when we pull in to port. Needless to say, we were all pretty beat when we moored up.

We ran a Search and Rescue (SAR) case for a day and a half. A snorkeler had gone missing from the west side of Maui. We didn't find her. It was our third PIW (person in the water) case since early December where we didn't find anything. With that in mind, I called Jeri Couthen, the local Work-Life Specialist, for a quick CISM (pronounced sism, Critical Incident Stress Management) brief for the crew. CISM is used mostly in more grisly cases, where people are dealing with body parts or lots of blood, or mass casualties. But I know I felt rough around the edges from putting so much effort into those three cases and not being able to produce any results. And Jeri was happy to come to the ship with LCDR Carl Barnes, the District 14 Chaplain, to talk to the crew. It was pretty quick, just about 15 minutes to let us know that it's normal to feel not so good in a case like this. And to reinforce the importance of what we had done, the time and effort we spent, to the family. I don't know what the crew thought about it. Nobody mentioned it again (except 1/C Gookin who didn't know what CISM was, and was interested in finding out more).

We did 52 boardings in three days!!! In support of Operation Dry Water, we conducted law enforcement operations for 14.5 hours off Waikiki, the Waianae side of Oahu, and in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. The goal of the operation was to target boaters that were boating while intoxicated, but amazingly and wonderfully, we didn't have any BUIs and only documented three (!!) violations of safety requirements. A couple of the folks in Kaneohe said that the CG Auxiliary had been out in the Bay recently and had conducted a bunch of courtesy inspections. Great job, CG Auxiliary and Happy Birthday (about a week late)!

We also did a high-interest vessel security boarding. We hadn't done one of these yet, and thankfully a few people on the crew had plenty of experience to show the ones who hadn't done one what to do. It was a good boarding, thorough and great training for the boarding team.

Our auto pilot stayed broken through the entire patrol, despite hours of troubleshooting efforts by our new electrician, EM1 Poyer Samuelu (Sammy) and the EMs at NESU. We got a new control box yesterday when we pulled into Hilo, and the engineers already installed it, but we won't get to operationally test it until we get underway the next time. Let me just say that not having an auto pilot didn't get any easier as the patrol went on. Really, it just got more annoying.

We circumnavigated Oahu twice. Besides the time mentioned in the last post, we did it again when we anchored in Kaneohe Bay on Saturday. Kinda cool. Anchoring in K-Bay was great! The mud and sand bottom held the anchor solidly and we didn't hardly move at all with the trade winds coming from the east. I would definitely anchor there again, though we did have a couple of hiccups. First was grey water and sewage management. And that wasn't so much a hiccup, instead maybe a management challenge. Our grey water can go into the sewage tank, which means the sewage tank fills up really quickly. We were under strict water conservation measures for the duration of our time in the Bay so that we didn't fill up our sewage tank, which would have necessitated getting underway and going outside of three miles from shore to empty the tanks. We had a couple of swim calls to encourage water conservation :)

The second hiccup, which definitely was a hiccup, was where we anchored. It was right on the race course of the local yacht club's weekly races. Whoops! Just before the races were supposed to start, one of the officials came along side to ask us to move, just 200-300 yards off their course. Unfortunately, our boarding teams were already away from the ship, so we had barely half the crew onboard...not nearly enough to get the ship underway to move, so I had to tell him we couldn't. So I spent the day breathing deeply to try to control my blood pressure when sail boats came close aboard, sometimes within 20 feet, and gave us unrelenting dirty looks. In retrospect, watching their courses, I'm not sure where we could have moved that would have been out of the way.

But while we were at anchorage, after our day of marathon boardings (7.5 hours, 33 boardings, 0 violations!), we had a swim call and a barbeque on the fantail. We sent the small boat in to the morale pier at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) to pick up some guests. My mom came out, along with FS2 Stickel's mother, father and brother, and FSCM Jason Vanderhaden and his son. We recognized FS2's upcoming advancement to FS1 a couple of days early, so that his family could be there for it. And it was really cool to have FSCM Vanderhaden there to pin on his First Class crows, along with PO Stickel's father. My mom enjoyed the boat ride too and from the pier. And watching the crew at swim call.

We fished some, but didn't catch anything.

Oh, and I'm convinced someone is trying to set the Cadet up for minor failure. 1/C Gookin is staying in the XO's Stateroom while XO is at PCO/PXO school. I told him when he moved in to try not to lock me out of the head, since the CO's and XO's Staterooms share it. I must have said it in front of someone, and they decided that it sounded like a great way to get the Cadet in a little friendly trouble. I was locked out of the head about 10 times this patrol. And the toilet seat was left up a lot. Somehow, I just don't think that 1/C Gookin would be that callous or inconsiderate, especially after having been warned against it. Whoever it is tripped up a little on Monday, though. 1/C Gookin was on the bridge the entire time between my bathroom trips. I went down the first time and left my door unlocked, he was on the bridge. I went down the second time, he was still on the bridge, and the door was locked...with the seat up. Still don't know who it was. It's kinda funny, but kinda annoying too. I didn't feel too bad the morning I had to call 1/C Gookin on the phone an hour before reveille to get him to unlock the door.

I'm sure there's more to mention from this patrol, but I can't think for the life of me what it might be.


Mom said...

You didn't mention how good the food was for the bbq. Thanks, FS1!

Just a Girl said...

I forgot to give an update on our gremlins. There still around and getting cheekier than ever, especially the one in the power plant alarm panel. The alarm goes off at random times, most frequently when we're at the most delicate maneuvering position like just off the mooring ball, just approaching the anchorage, or in the middle of the twist before backing down in Radio Bay. The thing's timing is impeccable!

tko24 said...

Another great post!

Azulao said...

OMG, hahahahhahahahahaha. Effing hilarious that your crew plays potty tricks on you.

(Actually, it is pretty great; they must really like you.)

So sorry about the SARs. /comfort to all.