Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dockside Availability Complaints

So after 42 days straight of blogging, I guess I decided to take 42 (or more) days off. I think that may be because I don't like to complain, but this inport we're in the middle of a dockside availability and have a few things to complain about. Nothing major; definitely first world problems but inconveniences all the same. And I don't even have the worst of it.

Here's the story (EO -- you're doing a great job managing the dockside! This whiny section of complaining has nothing to do with your efforts, and everything to do with how bad maintenance availabilities suck.):
Our dockside availability has about 30 work items associated with it. I don't know the details about all of them. The ones that have the greatest impact are work on the sewage system and the boilers. We don't have potable water on the ship right now, not because our potable water system is down, but because we don't have anywhere for the gray water that comes from sink and shower drains to go because the gray water system is tied in to the sewage system, and since the sewage system is down, so is gray water (for the particularly engineering savvy readers out there, I know I didn't get the details quite right...I think forward gray water goes into the sewage tank, but aft gray water goes somewhere else, but since the majority of the shower and heads are up forward, it's kinda a moot point).

No potable water and sewage means no toilets, sinks, showers or drinking water onboard. We have a bank of four porta-potties out on the pier. For our crew of 82 people and the gaggle of contractors that are working on the ship. There's a note on the inside of each porta potty saying something to the effect that one porta potty can accommodate 10 people for a 40-hour work week; excessive use beyond that may create poor conditions within the facility and they may have to be cleaned more frequently. Given this estimate, our four porta-potties can handle 1,600 man-hours a week. We have at least eight people onboard for duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week...that's 1,344 hours right there. Estimating that about 20% of folks are on leave on any given day, we have 59 crew and about 15 contractors using the porta-potties during the work day. Our posted workdays are about 6.5 hours long (we work trop hours inport), but I know about 20% of the crew stays for a full (at least) eight hour work day. This is another 2,600 man-hours of potential porta-potty use. And we have about 10 guys that live aboard the ship, adding another approximate 1,275 hours of use. All this adds up to a whopping 5,225 hours of porta potty pressure...I think I've just convinced myself that we really need to have the facilities cleaned every other day instead of just twice a week.

The Rent-A-Johns have foot powered sinks for washing our hands. Very sanitary.

We also have two blue shower boxes on the pier for crew's use. I have used them a couple times, post workout. They have plenty of hot water and good pressure. But sometimes you have to go out to the generator to turn on the lights, and last time I used one, I ended up flooding out both showers in my box because the drain wasn't working. I'm lucky -- I use them for convenience after a run...guys that live onboard use them every day. Trundling out to the pier every morning for a shower, with your spit bag and towel in hand has got to get old! And I just realized, there's no mirror in the shower boxes to help with shaving. I wonder where they're doing that...

The galley is also shut down. No easy breakfasts onboard when I've forgotten to think ahead. No coffee break treats. No lunch ready and waiting at the end of the workday. Total PITA.

The contractors are also working on testing and renewing the a/c system onboard. Apparently, one day this week, they'll have to run all the fan coil units (FCUs -- the a/c/heating units in each space) on high to test the system. I checked the weather report for this week. Highs in the 50s and low 60s. And we get to run the a/c on high all day. Break out the foul weather coats and wool watch caps. Really? We couldn't have done this last week when the temps were in the high 70s?

And here are the things I'm thankful for to balance all the complaints:
-- That our dockside availability is in our homeport, which means we're home for a nice long time that includes lots of major holidays.
-- Our crews' patience with the discomforts of the dockside. They are putting up with it, with minimal amounts of complaining.
-- The "For Official Use Only" signs on the porta potties, intended to keep public foot traffic or transient use of our porta potties to a minimum...the signs mean I'm always giggling a little as I go in to use the head.
-- Tug Boat Tony's Bagel Shop. They opened up right across Water St right around the time we got back inport. A few weeks later, we shut down our galley. They have been our back up for easy, quick and yummy food since then. They even open about half an hour early each morning to make sure we have a chance to get breakfast before our workday begins. And they're nice, friendly people.
-- The dockside availability itself. We're getting a lot of much needed maintenance done, even if the specific details of how that maintenance gets done kinda sucks. It'll help keep our ship operational and in the fight when we get back underway.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 42

Well, I did it. It wasn't particularly graceful or grand, but I set a goal and I accomplished it. 42 days straight of blogging once a day. Some posts were better than others. Some were barely posts at all.

I learned a few things, as I have with most goals. It's easier for me to motivate myself when it's for someone else besides myself. There were nights where I simply didn't have anything to say, but knowing I had other people to answer to if I didn't get one spit out made me buckle down and say something, even if it wasn't overly insightful or interesting.

I had another goal this patrol -- to train for the Battleship 1/2 Marathon on 8 Nov. The training schedule had me doing a circuit work out twice a week, running moderate distances (three to four miles) twice a week, increasing mileage on Sundays, up to 10 miles, and then a rest day on Monday. The most I ever ran underway was five miles. I did it once. It sucked horrible ass. It was blazing hot, even at 0900. I could run at most 30 laps around the flight deck before I had to stop for water. I had to run 170 laps, which I did, but it took me over an hour. I'd run 10 laps in one direction, 10 laps in the other direction, and call that one rep. 5 miles meant eight reps plus a five more laps in each direction. Dreadful boring. It blew. I did it once and then barely ran anymore on the flight deck. Thankfully by then we were pulling into GTMO for port calls, so I could use their gym and treadmills. Even with the air conditioning, the most I ran at GTMO was six miles. I was supposed to be up to 10 miles by yesterday. There were only a few days where I justifiably had an excuse that it was too rough out. The rest of the time, I was just too lazy. I was training for myself, and I couldn't maintain the discipline to keep to my schedule.

It's a good thing to know about myself -- that it's easier for me to do stuff for other people. I don't know how much I'll work on changing that. I think it's a pretty good character trait to have, but I can also recognize that it doesn't always serve me well or to my own benefit. It's ok to be selfish once in a while.

I had a couple of favorite posts.  The one about gremlins still makes me giggle when I think about it. I'm pretty happy with the one about all the little oddities I've gotten used to being underway. The one about the guys doing yoga on the flight deck gives me hope. The one about making mistakes keeps me honest. And the one about chicken -- I'm pretty certain that one changed the menu the next day. We were supposed to have Indian curry chicken for dinner. I emailed the post to SUPPO the evening I wrote it, saying please feel free to share with our FSs (Food Service Specialists) because I thought they might enjoy it. They made two types of Thai chicken curry for dinner -- spicy and mild. Both were excellent, and I ate too much.

Some of the descriptions I used make me think I know a thing or two about writing. "Sunsets at sea will always live in my soul." "We were children of the sea, reveling in her glory." "The bale of suspected contraband sits imperiously on the wardroom table like a prized trophy." "Did I really just write a post about writing a post about nothing?" "I have box of stevia packets for my morning tea sitting on the shelf above the couch in my stateroom, that must have done a cartwheel down to the floor as it showered all the little green packets over the floor like leprechaun confetti." "The only difference between the sky and the water was a subtle difference in density." CO told me his favorite was "Like a noxious fart in a stuffy room."

Which brings me to the fact that I in no way succeeded in this challenge on my own. The emails of encouragement I received were wonderful. Mike K, whose son is OPS on a Portsmouth WMEC sent regular emails that thanked me for my efforts and let me know my readership was bigger than I thought. I'll get to those posts on what Department Heads do -- though I might be a little out of touch with their actual moment to moment challenges. Maybe I'll ask for a guest post :) I got an email from Richard E (no, not that one) which said my posts brought up a lot of good and bad memories from his time underway, and congratulated me on my selection for O5. JKR even sent me a note saying he was reading my posts. I'm always awed when anyone in the CG community tells me they've read my blog for however many years. It happens more often than I expect and from the most unforeseen quarters, but is always a welcome surprise.

CO took a bold chance on giving me free reign with my posts. He read the first two or so, and then let me go ahead with whatever I had to say. He asked me to wait a few days to post "Disruption" simply because he didn't want to interfere with any disposition discussions that were taking place at high levels. He shared the blog link with his family...I think it sparked some discussions with them, when I wrote about full power trials after we had already experienced our generator casualty. I'm not the only one for whom engineering is a mystery.

My sister sent wonderful emails that gave me good ideas and let me know she appreciated my sense of humor. And my Uncle Heathen was my trusted agent, faithfully posting my daily musings. Thank you, Uncle H, for being so diligent about working with our (constant) connectivity challenges.

Here's the thing. Anyone can do this -- write a blog about their personal interactions in a professional Coast Guard setting. One of my ex-boyfriends said he didn't see the point of reading books (I should have known at the time he said that, it wouldn't work out) because he could write stories just as good as the authors. Only he didn't. He just said he could. Half the battle is just plain showing up and doing it. It doesn't always have to be grand. Sometimes it just has to be.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

First Day Back

I'm not really sure what I did today, but somehow it's nearly 8 pm and dark out. I definitely made time for some of my favorite things...lingering over froofy coffee at a breakfast of homemade oatmeal with dried fruits and nuts mixed in. Walking through an art market in downtown Wilmington. Reading a book while sprawled on my couch. Browsing at a garden center, and coming home to put all my new plants in the ground. The backyard has a new fig tree, the side garden has a stevia plant and a few rainbow chards scattered about, and the porch planters are prolific with pansies. Lunch was a decadent affair -- garlic knots, pizza with pancetta, arugula (arooooogula), and fresh tomatoes -- lingered over with a cocktail.

I had some chores to do also. Bills to pay, business to attend to (like filling out all the obnoxious paperwork to replace my phone that I dropped on the asphalt a couple weeks before we left), dishes to wash, and yard accouterments to put back in their place after Juaquin didn't make an appearance in NC. And antibiotics to give to Lucy. We're going to fight over her taking her pills for another two and a half days. If the only frustration she gives me is that she doesn't take pills well, I have a very sweet kitty. She even forgave me quickly and started to purr after I shoved the last one down her throat with the kitty pill popper. Oh, and she chews my ear bud cords when I leave them out, which is really my fault because I should know better.

So all in all a great first day back. I'm following CO's orders to get some rest and charging my batteries before we get back into workdays later this week. I keep forgetting it's Sunday, though. It feels like a Saturday, especially since tomorrow is a holiday too. Maybe I'll figure out what day it is by Friday.

I will get to responding to all the emails of encouragement I got over the last six weeks. Just not tonight. I've spent enough time on the computer today.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


We returned to homeport (RTHP) today. It was about a week earlier than we had originally planned because our NR1 SSDG (ship's service diesel generator on the starboard side) tried to eat itself a little more than a week ago...catastrophic failure that we could not have predicted or really done much about. I'm a pretty shitty engineer, but I walked by the generator on one of my trips through the engine room, and it was pretty obvious that it wasn't going to work again without a lot of work.

It was an early morning; reveille was at 0515. For some reason, I woke up at 0415 and couldn't go back to sleep. After a quick breakfast, I headed up to the bridge. The first part of our transit up the river was going to be in the dark, so I wanted to make sure my eyes were adjusted, and I had plenty of time to figure out what all the lights were -- background lights on shore, buoys or navigation aids, or other vessels. Reveille was so early because it's a huge risk mitigator for us to moor at slack water. If we miss it, we have the possibility of facing a multi-knot current. And the general rule is that one know of current acts on the ship like 30 knots of wind. So, it's best for us if we get to the pier when the river is not trying to have her way with us.

Another risk mitigator we used this morning was to have a tug on standby for our transit up the river. If we had lost our NR2 SSDG when we were within 100 yards of shoal water on either side, it could have been a pretty bad scene. We have an emergency generator, but it can't power everything we usually have online. So, having the tug nearby made it a little less risky to not have the redundancy of two SSDGs.

For all our planning, we had a pleasant transit up the river, with the barest of floods pushing us along. OPS timed our arrival perfectly, and we made our approach right at slack water. ENS J.B. and OPS did an amazing job of mooring us up with grace and skill. All the entering port chores were taken care of in fairly short order, we had quarters, and liberty was granted by about 1020.

I'm always a little nervous returning. What has changed while we've been gone? Will my car start? Did the house flood?

My car did start, though OS3 J.S. and MK3 J.B. both had difficulties picking their vehicles up from long-term parking. The house wasn't flooded, but the circuit breaker had flipped off in the garage, so the chest freezer didn't have power for an unknown length of time. I lost about 1/2 a gallon of strawberries and four cups of sour milk I use for pancakes. My smart tv had a lobotomy -- I can't use the apps on it for some reason now, despite having reset all the programming. I picked the Black and White up from the vet. Lucy was in a cat fight while I was gone, and my roommate had to take her to the vet about two weeks ago because she wouldn't take her pills. The vets and techs all love her, but it was time for her to come home, stitches and all. And my car tires all had low air pressure.

It took me about 45 minutes to go through all my mail. I finally got my merchant mariner's license renewal. And lots of credit card advertisements.

I did laundry. And took a nap on my couch. And went out for an amazing dinner at one of my favorite seafood restaurants in the area. Here shortly, I'm going to go to sleep in my very own bed, that doesn't move around on me, in a room that is blessedly quiet.

Underway is exciting and fun. But I'm pretty glad to be home too.

The Lingering Effects of Scattered Thunderstorms

We rode through some scattered thunderstorms last night. The wind picked up quickly and rain pelted down like a bucket was overturned. 

I woke up at about 2330 (or 11:30 pm) wondering why it felt like I was riding a bucking bronco, and why there were ghosts in my stateroom rattling their chains. It took me a few minutes to come out of my sleep-laden mental fog to realize that we had run into some weather. I lay there for a few minutes thinking maybe the chain rattling would go away. But it didn't.

I called the bridge and asked them to send the BMOW down to where we store the secondary tie downs for the helo. They're metal chains with hooks on the end that we use to secure the helo on deck when we're not expecting to use it for a while. But when we don't have a helo onboard at all, they live hanging up in a space that is on the other side of a 1/8th inch thick metal bulkhead from my stateroom. They don't usually clang around; we have to be pitching in just the right way for them to start making noise. And they weren't consistently making noise last night -- just enough to keep me from getting used to it and being able to fall back asleep.

The BMOW, HS2 T.W., made his way outside -- I think it was probably during a downpour, but I didn't realize that at the time. And worked some magic to stop the chains from clanking. 

But the ride was still rough. Or at least a different kind of rough than we've mostly been used to this patrol. We've had a lot of days in the trough; last night we were pitching up and down. It's a very different sensation. And it stayed rough on and off throughout the night, until about 5 am.

Most people I talked to today experienced the same lack of sleep. I got great descriptions of the various positions people woke up in, trying to keep themselves in their racks. 

But now, I'm a little more worn out than I really should be at 1830. I'm looking forward to an early night tonight.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Friday, October 9, 2015

Qual Boards

With limited time left underway for this patrol, we are trying frantically to cram as many qualification (qual) boards in as possible. Qual boards are oral boards, where the member seeking a qualification is grilled in a round-robin style by other members who are already qualified in that watchstation to determine the unqualified member's level of knowledge and judgment. Some qual boards have four qualified members asking questions, but I've also seen up to eight members sitting on a board.

Qual boards are the culmination of a lot of hard work by the members to learn new job skills, everything from helmsman and lookout to coxswain, throttleman, Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOW) and Officer of the Deck (OOD). They've stood one-in-three watches for anywhere from a week to two months, depending on which qual it is. They've studied the manuals, asked questions, been peppered with questions, done drawings, gotten sign offs, demonstrated their practical knowledge and in many cases, been through a pre-board. We train our own workforce -- we must be thorough to make sure new people are learning the right way to do things.

For the first year Ensigns, they have all just been through their first board experiences. ENS E.L. successfully completed both her inport and underway EOW boards -- a huge accomplishment for a Student Engineer. ENS J.W., ENS L.R. and ENS E.H. all took and passed their inport OODs boards within the last two days. 

I led the boards for the three newly qualified inport OODs. We have a bank of questions and scenarios from which to draw, based on ship's particulars, general Coast Guard policy and our own experiences from things we dealt with as OODs back in the day, or phone calls we've taken since then. It is hard, sometimes, to ask a good board question, trying to get the answer you're looking for without giving away too much information. And after a couple boards, the questions have to change because our folks are good shipmates and share their board experiences with the other unqualified members. 

When I first started asking about how an OOD would deal with a report of a sexual assault, I got a not quite by-the-book answer. The very next board, the boardee gave a text book answer because the first member had given a good passdown on what questions were asked so they could be better prepared. 

A lot of questions are scenario based. What would you do if...a ship mooring alongside hit us and gashed a hole in aft steering? ...if a member didn't show up for his scheduled duty day? ...if a winter storm was coming? And the scenarios always happen at 2 am or on the weekend. I asked our last board candidate tonight why all the scenarios were at night or on the weekend. He answered correctly, that is -- when he's "alone and unafraid" and has to take the right initial and immediate action while he waits for one of the command cadre to answer their phones. 

Boards are exhausting for both the board members and the boardees. But, after having just finished three in two days, I'm really proud of how well our folks are trained. I've had the opportunity to question them in detail about how they'd handle themselves in a number of different situations, and I'm impressed at how well they've prepared themselves for their new responsibilities. Not to say they know everything they need to -- guaranteed they'll learn more in their first three days of qualified watch as they have in the last three months of breaking in -- but their hard work shows, and I think they'll be good representatives of the ship and command. 

Congrats to all our newly qualified members!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Thursday, October 8, 2015


WMEC usually means Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutter; just like WHEC usually means Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter. The "W" is a Coast Guard designator that came into use early in the US's involvement in World War II (1942 to exact). There are different schools of thought about why the "W." My favorite is because it wasn't being used by the Navy for anything else.

But everyone who has ever served on either a WMEC or a WHEC knows that there is another, truer meaning of those acronyms. WMEC = We Must Eat Chicken; WHEC = We Havta Eat Chicken. I suspect that FRC (Fast Response Cutter) is really short for Frequently Receiving Chicken, NSC (National Security Cutter) means Now Serving Chicken and OPC (Offshore Patrol Cutter) will be Offering Prime Chicken or maybe Often Preparing Chicken once commissioned.

I do not eat chicken when I'm not on a ship. Maaaybe every once in a very long while I'll get Thai green curry with chicken or chicken pad thai, but I usually opt for shrimp or tofu if given the choice. I don't buy it at the grocery store and I don't order it in restaurants. If I'm at someone's house who serves chicken, I will politely eat it and tell the cook how delicious it is so I'm not rude about it. But left to my own devices, I avoid chicken when I have a choice. Except chicken wings...I got addicted to those damn things when I was OPS on HAMILTON. It was a survival technique since we had chicken wings every single Saturday night at Pizza Night underway. 

I get why CG cooks serve it so much. Chicken is relatively affordable, healthy and can be prepared in any number of creative ways. Just last week we had buffalo chicken sandwiches, baked chicken, lemon garlic chicken, chicken nuggets (two kinds) and bacon chicken wraps. This week was savory baked chicken, grilled cilantro lime chicken, Indian curry chicken, chicken wings and the ever generic, grilled chicken for those who prefer healthier options on pizza night. Other favorites include chicken parmesan, chicken alfredo, fried chicken, chicken fajitas, chicken salad sandwiches, and chicken quesadillas.

Just to be clear, I am **not** bashing CG cooks. We have *great!* cooks. Who care about the quality and healthiness of the food they prepare and serve. They're trying to please 76 different palates three times a day -- that is a nearly impossible task. Our cooks on DILI do a great job, even when we get crappy produce in theatre or run out of milk two days before our next port call. We have biscuits and gravy every Wednesday morning -- yet another glorious reason to love Hump Days (FS3 B.S. knows to put my two over medium (eggs) on top of the biscuits, and then add the gravy over the whole thing with a heavy hand -- divine!). Taco Tuesdays are a total mainstay; though we have Mexican Mondays when we're inport because we have afternoon workouts on Tuesdays and people were grumpy about missing Taco Tuesday. Seafood Fridays (Fish Fridays sounds better, but it's not very accurate) are still a thing. And every Saturday is Pizza Night. 

But by now in the patrol, I am heartily sick of eating chicken. The open-faced turkey sandwiches on the menu for lunch tomorrow -- now that's a different story!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sunset MOB

We're winding down the patrol (I can't believe I only have 6 more days of daily posts!), to the point now that I'm having to carefully plan out days to make sure we can get everything done we need to do. Meetings, boards, and drills are all getting crammed into the plan of the day.

So tonight, on the most sublime evening we have had this patrol, we had a MOB (man overboard), nighttime shipboard pick-up drill. BM1 C.P. flung Oscar (our MOB dummy) over the starboard side about six minutes after the green flash twinkled in the western sky. The water was glass all around us, with white puffy clouds reflecting brokenly off the port side, and an orange and silvery blue checkerboard following in our wake as the sun set behind us. ENS L.R. had the conn and maneuvered alongside Oscar within about 20 yards in less than four minutes -- a grand feat of precise shiphandling. Oscar was simulating HS2 T.W. having fallen overboard while he was the BMOW (Boatswains Mate of the Watch) doing his round on the foc'sle.

Unfortunately, our line handlers on deck need a little line throwing training, and had some difficulty crossing their heaving lines over Oscar, which would have stopped the clock for our drill. As they kept trying, we drifted slowly away from Oscar. Just about the time the heaving lines were too short to reach Oscar anymore, we got word on the bridge that the rescue swimmer was ready to deploy. SN N.E. got a sunset swimcall all to himself, in full rescue swimmer regalia (shorty wetsuit, mask/snorkel, fins and tending line), as he swam out about 150 yards to drag Oscar back to the ship. 

By the time we wrapped up the drill, Oscar had been in the water for 9 minutes, 30 seconds. We lost fifteen points out of 100 because we didn't get him recovered sooner. We also had some radio/communications issues with the team out on deck. But that's why we do drills -- to find out where our weaknesses are, and train to overcome them.

It was a particularly nice touch to finish the drill just as the horizon out in front of us disappeared into white. The only difference between the sky and the water was a subtle distinction of density. The water looked slightly thicker than the sky; otherwise they were the same color and nearly blended seamlessly into one another. Sunsets at sea will always live in my soul.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Grumpy Pants

I've had my grumpy pants on all day long. They're tight in all the wrong places, and baggy in worse ones. They itch. And the zipper's broke, so I can't figure out how to get the damn things off.

For me, I think being grumpy is one of the worst conditions I can be as a leader. I like being pleasant, happy even. It makes it easier for people to come talk to me, even if they have bad news. I know I have a tendency to fly off the handle sometimes (usually) when something goes wrong or annoys me. So when I have my grumpy pants on, I fly higher and faster off that handle and tend to regret it later. Knowing that it happens can sometimes allay some of the effects, especially if I know something is going to tweak me. Like MPA joking at lunch about family separation allowance (FSA) -- I *knew* he was trying to get a reaction from me, and I did my very, very, very best not to let him. I squeaked instead of roared.

I also know that being grumpy sometimes is kinda inevitable. It happens. How do you know the highs if you don't have any lows? No rain, no rainbows. Being hangry typically plays a large part in my grumpiness. I'll sometimes let myself wallow in it for a couple hours, then get fed up (or just eat something) and bored with being grumpy and chivy myself out of it. We've had a fast and furious day today, so I haven't really had time to reflect on being over my grumpiness, so it's been lingering. Like a noxious fart in a stuffy room.

It's not fair for me to keep being grumpy on the ship, especially underway. The quarters are too close. People *have to* come talk to me. We're all in the same boat (literally), and while I have a ton of reasons for being grumpy, so does everyone else. They're not grumpy, why should I be?

Tomorrow's a brand new day. All kinds of possibilities for good and bad stuff to happen. Here's hoping the good stuff well out-weighs the bad...

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Monday, October 5, 2015

Full Power Trials

We have an annual requirement to conduct full power trials at least annually. What, you may ask, are full power trials? Full power trials are where the engineers bring the main diesel engines (MDEs) that provide propulsion to the ship to their maximum speed for at least an hour. 

We get to go fast -- really, really fa...well, 210s can't go really, really fast, but it's as fast as their big ol' lumbering MDEs can go. 

It's a pretty big deal. Not every ship can successfully complete full power trials. Many times the engines overheat or there's too much vibration or something else goes wrong that prevents a ship from achieving a full hour of top speed. Like the weather isn't perfect. We really have to have a nearly flat calm day to do full power trials, or else the waves and swells interact too much with the ship. We also can't make any turns for pretty much the same reason. 

Today, however, we had perfect conditions. It was FAC out (day, like, four of great weather -- we're getting spoiled!), our trackline stretched out endlessly in front of us, and we didn't have much else going on. 

It took a little while for the Engineers to take all the readings they needed in order to work up to the full power trials, but then, little by little, we increased speed. Until we hit Ludicrous Speed. 300 shaft rotations per minute (shaft rpms) causes the whole ship to shake and shimmy with excitement. I called the bridge at one point to ask if we were getting 300 shaft rpms; the OOD told me proudly we were at 300 rpms on both mains, and even up to 304 or 306 every now and again.

So congratulations to DILI's Main Propulsion division for their superb maintenance and care of the MDEs that allow us to coax the engines into peak performance!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Sunday, October 4, 2015


It was a fairly normal Saturday onboard. We had Field Day this morning when we dedicate three-plus hours to cleaning up the ship. I stood watch on the bridge for a little while, but still managed to give my room a decent cleaning. Concurrently with the last hour or so of the Field Day, the Department Heads and I walked around for a Material Inspection, to look for things that need to be fixed, cleaned more or replaced onboard. We did the front half of the ship. I'll get the aft half on another Saturday.

Then Quarters. And then Holiday Routine for the afternoon. It's been a quiet-ish day. Plans have changed about six times over the course of the last four days, but that's nothing unusual. We'll see how long our current plan lasts.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Swim Call

The stars finally aligned today for a swim call. The weather was beautiful. The XO relented on slave driving for the afternoon (>HEY! That's not fair!! We got more shit to do than we got time to do it! Don't blame me for trying to do my job!<). OPS didn't have immediate tasking we had to get to. Steel Beach was authorized, a cornhole tournament was in progress, and the fantail grill was in full burger and 'dog bbq mode. It was time to take our spiffy new Swim Call checklist for a test ride.

Swim calls are one of the major perks of being underway. Not many people get to safely swim in the very middle of the ocean, in water that is 1,700 meters deep, so salty you barely have to tread to stay afloat, and so clear that the depths disappear in to crystalline blue. 

We launch our small boat with a rescue swimmer onboard to help anyone who may find themselves in trouble. We post a shark watch on the bridge with an M16, just in case. We secure propulsion and steering. We make sure sewage is placed in holding (going into a tank onboard instead of over the side...EEEW!!!). We have someone monitor who goes in to the water, and counts them when they come out. We don't let people swim forward of the stripe or aft of the stern.

And then we let people jump off the small boat platform on the leeward side. There were some *spectacular* displays of grace and enthusiasm as people did flips and dives and twists and cannonballs...and some less spectacular displays of poor timing and worse coordination with belly flops and leg slaps. We have a number of new folks onboard, many of whom I'm sure this was their first swim call experience. They jumped in with gusto.

The jim buoys (large life rings with a cargo net in the middle, used for migrant ops) found their way into the water. They were enthusiastically used for lounging and playing king of the mountain...and toppling the king of the mountain. Someone brought out their football and people jumping off the boat deck tried valiantly, if unsuccessfully, to catch in on their way into the water. 

I stayed on the bridge, keeping an eye on things. I took QMOW for a little while so the regularly scheduled QMOW could enjoy the water. Sometimes it's more fun to watch people having fun. I laughed at their antics and enjoyed their enthusiasm. 

Swim call lasted for about an hour and a half. Then it was time to bring everyone back onboard and cradle the small boat. But there for a little while, we were children of the sea, reveling in her glory.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Friday, October 2, 2015


FAC = flat ass calm. It's a technical term, really. And it describes beautifully our weather conditions from today. The winds have picked up a little since the sun set or as we passed through some isolated showers. For the most part, though, today has been beautiful, and what I normally think of when I think "Caribbean."

Our lookout could see debris and deadheads (logs washed out to sea) from nearly 3/4 of a mile away. The wind is barely strong enough to mark ripples on the water's surface. When sea birds dive for flying fish, you can see their bubble trail streaking in the water after them, and watch them gulp the tasty treats they've caught as they float placidly by. We saw mahi mahi hiding under detritus, their neon greeny-yellow tails shimmering like jewels.

The wind might pick up soon and churn the seas up again. But in the meantime, I'll enjoy the FAC conditions as long as I can.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Happy New Fiscal Year!

One of the XO's major responsibilities is managing the ship's budget. This includes making sure our funding is used to appropriately support mission execution, including buying parts, supplies, paying for port calls and other ship's amenities and utilities. Because we're a federal agency, we follow the federal government's fiscal year of 1 October to 30 September.

So...out with the old, in with the new! Happy three hours.

Thankfully, though, we're pretty well wrapped up on FY15. We had a few violent hiccups at the very tail end of the FY -- you know the kind where it feels like you're going to break a rib if you hiccup one more time. But with some great support from our ADCON, we worked through them. With a whopping 11 hours to spare.

I am approaching the new fiscal year with some trepidation. From the news I'm reading, it sounds like there will be a continuing resolution to see us through the first few months of the new fiscal year. Stable funding, like a full-year budget, is much easier to plan for than a series of CRs. But I'll take the CRs over a government shut-down any day.

We'll wake up tomorrow morning, the sky will still be blue, the ocean salty and the sun bright. And it'll be a brand new fiscal year. Cheers, all!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When I Make a Mistake...

...(please fill in the blank for yourself before you read further)

...I try not to blame other people for my mistake, but instead look for where I went wrong so I don't do the same thing again. And not just where I went wrong, but really, what is the root cause of the mistake? Am I spread too thin? Am I not paying enough attention? Am I giving someone too much leeway? Do I know enough about the surrounding issues, or do I need to educate myself more?

...I try not to blame myself, which is infinitely harder than not blaming someone else. I'm supposed to be better than mistakes. I pride myself on doing my job exceptionally well, so when I make mistakes, I have a desperately hard time not taking them personally.

...I try to make sure the solution doesn't just pawn the problem off on someone else, but instead, I try to fix my own mistakes. Maybe it's penance for making the mistake in the first place.

...when appropriate, I try to put things in perspective. I ask myself, is someone going to die from this mistake? If the answer is no, I try to not let it get me down as bad.

When others make mistakes around me, I like to remind them of the lessons from the book, "The Up Side of Down" by Megan McArdle and the TED talk "On Being Wrong" by Kathryn Schulz that I've linked to before, both about the value of failure, and how we learn from our mistakes more than we learn from our successes. 

When I make a mistake, all that goes totally out the window, and I beat myself liberally about the head and shoulders. There's lots of "I try"s in those statements above, because the truth of the matter is that I rant and throw temper tantrums laced liberally with foul-languaged invectives against the system, myself and the world around me when I make mistakes. And then I try to find solutions. Maybe one day I'll get over ranting before fixing, but I'm not there yet.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


My sister suggested I write about how decisions get made onboard. She said, "A good theme to think about is, how do decisions get made, what information goes into each one? Since you must make a million decisions a day, that's a lot of posts." 

I can't really talk about specific decisions, though. The interesting ones are too operational or too personal to individuals. But there are a kadjillion decisions made every day onboard; some are easy, some require art, some require science, and some are just plain hard.

The Conning Officer has to decide on a boat launch course. Mostly environmental conditions factor into that decision -- where are the winds from? Where are the seas from? What course best shields the boat from both those things? Are the seas high enough to worry about shock-loading the lines as the boat initially goes into the water, or comes out of the water? Are we within launch parameters? How fast should we be going? Do we need a little more speed on to keep up with the movement of the water from the seas and swells, or should we slow down more to give the boat a better ride? If we go slower, we'll need to use more rudder to turn -- who is on the helm? How are they steering? Do they need to shift from auto mode to hand mode?

The Deck Officer has to decide when we're ready to launch the boat. Is the boat deck manned and ready? Has the coxswain briefed the CO about what the plan is for why we're launching the boat? Who is on the davit controls? Is it the right person for the conditions? How many new line handlers do we have? Has CIC done radio checks with the small boat? Do they all have their correct PPE (personal protective equipment) on? Are line handlers wearing watches, rings or other shiny things that might get caught in a runaway line and rip skin or digits off their hands?

The Deck and the Conn then have to work together to make sure the boat is safely put into the water. Communications, communications, communications. I don't know that anyone of the watchstanders break it down into such distinct and obvious pieces -- it's probably much more of the art for finding a boat launch course and actually getting the boat in the water.

Easy decision -- we authorize football jerseys on Sundays underway (but not at watchstations) so people can show a little team pride. Someone asked me today, what if my team is playing Monday Night Football? Can I wear my jersey then? Easy answer -- no. Why? Because I said so. We're already bending the rules a little about letting folks wear jerseys at all. 

Hard decision -- when and how is the right time to tell someone their performance or behavior is not up to standards? Do I have my information in order? Can I give them specific examples of what needs to change? Do I understand the situation well enough to even be able to judge if their actions are not good enough? What pieces am I missing that would help me understand what is keeping them from better performance? Do I have the time right now to get into it with them? Is it important enough to confront them with? What are the consequences if I don't? Is there a better person to do this?

I'm re-reading The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, by Steven B. Sample. It's been a while since I read it, and I'm just finished the part about thinking grey. Suspending judgment on something until a decision has to be made, or maybe never making a judgment on something if you don't have to. His point is to take time to make decisions where time can be taken, which takes practice because we're schooled to think that making decisions quickly and decisively is the only way to succeed as leaders. It's a very yogic way of looking at things -- suspending judgment. I've had the opportunity to try it recently. I think I did ok. I could have done better.

There will be another decision tomorrow I can practice on.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Monday, September 28, 2015


Picture this:
We're in the middle of nowhere, deep blue sea all around. Deep blue, angry seas all around. Winds are steady at 24 knots; swells are rolling through at about six feet with a three foot wind chop on top. The water is covered with white caps as far as the eye can see in all directions.

An aircraft overhead reports a suspected narco-trafficker (aka, drug smuggler) in our vicinity in a profile go-fast vessel. We launch our small boat, and send them off to chase down the suspect vessel. They pound into the seas for nearly an hour. Amazingly, they spot the go-fast 500 yards off their bow.

They close the go-fast vessel, who has been DIW (dead in the water, pronounced dee-eye-double u) hoping to avoid detection. The go-fast takes off downswell trying to get away. Our small boat chases them.

The go-fast crew starts throwing stuff overboard. Our crew slows just enough to snag one package of what has been jettisoned for potential evidence, and then quickly cranks the speed back up to insane levels. They crash along closing the go-fast for about 15 minutes. The go-fast jettisons more packages, and lightens their load just enough to start edging away from our crew.

Our small boat finally breaks pursuit after sliding further and further astern of the go-fast. The go-fast screams off into the horizon, quickly disappearing from sight. Our small boat creeps back to the ship slowly upswell, trying for the best ride after being jolted crash after wave crash for nearly two hours. We recover the small boat; the team onboard is tired, wet, sore and hungry. The bale of suspected contraband sits imperiously on the wardroom table like a prized trophy.

Later that night, our sister ship comes along, sees the same go-fast, shoots out their engines from their helicopter and stops the go-fast.

We got the drugs; they got the people.

Just another day in paradise.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunset Colors

We delayed Evening Reports by about 35 minutes tonight, which meant I actually got up to the bridge for sunset. It's been a while since I made the time to watch a sunset, and it was an amazing one. 

The water was flat calm, with barely a ripple from the light wind. We were sending up a small wake to either side, but directly behind us, the water was smooth as glass. It reflected the lights and colors from the sky, even the muted white of the nearly full moon shone a subtle, sparkly pathway to the horizon.

The sun was bright orange as it moved beyond the curve of the earth. There were a few different types of clouds in the sky that mirrored its color. I have one more swallow tattoo to get, and I want it in sunset colors. The brilliant orangy-peach with magenta and pink streaks that luminesces from within, and the dark, shadowed purple that is the same family, but with all the yellow from the sun stripped out by the onset of night. 

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Saturday, September 26, 2015

No Sugar Days

I added a new goal to my patrol goal tracker. "No Sugar Days" during which I try to not eat any processed sugar. Honey and stevia don't count; I can eat those.

I started with this one pretty late in the patrol, and have five "sugar" days that I can sprinkle throughout the remainder of the patrol if I want to keep equal numbers of "sugar" and "no sugar" days. I'm on a six day "no sugar" streak right now. 

It's hard to do. The cooks make tasty looking desserts. I caved early on in trying to do this because of cannolis. I mean, it's almost inhuman to be asked to give up homemade cannolis. 

And candy is ubiquitous in the wardroom. The Wardroom Mess Treasurer, ENS J.B. says he budgets $300 per patrol for snacks. He tries to make some of them healthy snacks, like pretzels and nut mixes. But he also caves to popular pressure and buys candy. I didn't help my own cause any when we last stopped in GTMO. They had Halloween candy on display and I stocked up for the wardroom. I couldn't pass up the candy corn, hot tamales, and chocolate body parts (peanut butter ears, crunchy chocolate toes).

EO thinks it's bad for me. He says I'm a nicer person if I eat sugar. I think he may be mistaking eating sugar for just eating anything -- I admit to being hangry sometimes.

And part of me just laughs at the distractions I use to keep my mind busy while we're underway. 
LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Friday, September 25, 2015

Shiphandling 101

It occurred to me this morning that I have a set of very basic shiphandling guidelines that I fall back on when I'm driving the ship in tight spots, or coaching someone who is driving the ship. While this post is titled "Shiphandling 101," it's really more like Shiphandling 101 Prep -- very basic concepts.

First, stand in one place. Make it the right place, but stand in one place as you make your approach to the pier. I rely heavily on what impromptu terrestrial ranges tell me about my forward momentum and lateral movement, and the only way that those ranges won't lie to you is if you stay in one place. Terrestrial ranges are fixed things on land that change position relative to each other as the ship moves through the water. Two flag poles, light posts, windmills, windows or antennas on buildings, trees, whatever -- as long as they're offset distance from one another to show how things are changing for me, they work. You can move as you need to, but you have to reset the ranges each time you do. So for me, it's easier just to stay mostly in one place.

Second, use your command voice. Especially if you're staying in one place. You can't walk into the bridge to give commands to the lee helm for the throttles or the helmsman for the rudder. It's ok to turn your head towards them, but even taking a step towards them can change the effectiveness of those terrestrial ranges. There also tends to be a lot of noise and other commotion on the bridge. The Conning Officer's voice is the one that counts for maneuvering the ship, and since maneuvering the ship safely is everyone's goal onboard, the Conning Officer must be heard above anyone and everyone else. A command voice is not yelling for the sake of yelling; it's loud and articulate. Standard commands help. 

Third, drive the stern of the ship. The bow is easier to pay more attention to because that's what will likely hit something first as you approach the pier, but the stern has a lot more weight behind it and that's where the power is. Even as I write this, it's hard for me to say I use this one all the time. I think I picked it up when I was on my first 378' which had a bow prop. So if you could put the stern where you wanted it, the bow prop would move the bow where it needed to go. But it's stuck with me, I think because so many new shipdrivers forget about the stern and only drive the bow.

Fourth, at slow speeds, use a lot of rudder or don't bother. I think this is a holdover from being on 110's, where the rudder is a little bitty thing. It was either all the way over, or rudder amidship. Anything in between was just a waste of effort. That's still pretty much how I drive when I'm maneuvering at slow speeds. Right full, left full or rudder amidship. I roll my eyes a little when new Conning Officers use five or ten degrees of rudder when they're going less than five knots.

Not really fifth because it's not a guideline, but it's a technique I use to remind myself how to use both engines. I dance a little. When I twist my right hip forward, I know I need to use starboard ahead, port back to twist the ship to the left. When I twist my left hip forward, I know I need to use port ahead, starboard back to twist the ship to the right. Silly, but it works for me. And it reminds me I have a stern. Which is important, because when you twist your bow one way, the stern moves in the other direction -- the ship is a rigid thing that way. 

I know there are more and more nuanced concepts. Forces acting on ships, use of lines, making environmental factors work for you, using all your tools, communications with the foc'sle and fantail...those are the Shiphandling 101. But I still fall back to these fundamentals each time I conn the ship. And driving a ship -- that's damn fun stuff!

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Congratulations to each of the LCDRs selected by the subject board! Competition was likely very fierce, and you each undoubtedly earned your selection. Those of you who weren't selected still work incredibly hard at difficult jobs. My sincerest hope is that you compete successfully for promotion next year. I feel blessed that I was among the 176 LCDRs selected to make O5.

I received a number of great emails about this message today, including "They know not what they do" and "Brace yourselves...detailers are coming." And I got emails from a slew of folks that I was delighted, if a little surprised, to hear from. Surprised because we had either limited interactions, or interactions a long, long time ago. I think that's part of the beauty of the smallness of the Coast Guard, though -- people remember and reach out.

It would be great for me to go into some full blown discussion of zones and opportunities for selection and above zone and reordering and promotion years and how long I think it'll take to actually pin on CDR based on my ranking and...whoosh, I'm tired just saying all that stuff. And CG-12A does a much better job of explaining the technicalities anyway. Just read their Officer Corps Management Plan on their Officer Management Sharepoint site if you want the details.

One of the great things about all the congratulatory emails is getting the ones from people who mentored me along the way. I've gotten emails from former COs and mentors who knew me as a brand new LTJG and young LT. It's given me a chance to thank them for their guidance and leadership. And as I said to my family when I emailed them the news, "Thank you all so very much for the love and encouragement over the years. It's only with your support that I've been able to do this and that it means much of anything at all."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


We hold Quarters every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday underway. Since we're sailors, it's nice to be able to have Quarters on the flight deck, out under the blue sky, blazing sun and in the ocean breeze (if we're lucky and not sailing with the wind. When that happens, Quarters can be a trifle stifling).

Each department lines up in ranks; Engineering is port side forward, Support is port side aft, Deck is starboard side aft and Operations is starboard side forward. The four Department Heads line up athwartship facing aft on the VERTREP line (little "t"s painted on the flight deck to tell the helo where to hover to vertically replenish (VERTREP), or drop off/pick up things from the flight deck). I stand just a little further aft and face forward to receive their reports of accountability. Once they've each saluted and told me their department is all present or accounted for, I turn around (it's supposed to be an about-face, but an about-face on the non-skid while underway exceeds my grace by about a thousand-fold), salute the CO and tell him "DILIGENCE is all present or accounted for, sir." He says "Very well" and salutes back. I turn around and have the crew "Fall out and gather 'round."

Today at Quarters, we went through the usual announcements: morale events planned over the next few days; reiterating the need to document insulation that needs repairs so it can go into our request to our Product Line; the WQSB (Watch, Quarter, Station Bill) has been updated -- make sure you check it so you know where to go for different evolutions; DC (damage control) training planned for tomorrow, which is mandatory if you're not DC qualified; and the duty schedule for the upcoming inport will be posted by tonight (it's been much anticipated for a few weeks now).

And then came the special stuff. We have three non-rated personnel that are headed off to A schools to get their "rate" or specialty training. FN A.H. is going to MK A school after being trained by some of the best damn engineers in the fleet. He helped rebuild one of the main diesel engines two inports ago and found his inner engineer. He's been onboard for about 10 months and received a page 7 documenting his many contributions to the ship.

SN N.D. and SN R. M. are both going to AMT A school. They were called up separately and received departing awards for the work they had done onboard. The CO called the ship's company to attention while he read the awards. I couldn't help but smile at the forest of dark blue-trousered legs and their synchronized leaning from one side to another as the ship rolled. Everyone stood at exactly the same angle, and it wasn't 90 degrees to the deck -- more like 80 degrees to the deck. And then the ship rolled the other way, and so did the forest sway.

It also made me grin when I saw a few of the Deckies at the front of the crowd. They hadn't been onboard when "Attention to citation" is called before. They were still lounging at ease. It didn't take more than 30 seconds for their petty officers behind them to nudge them to attention. They were quick studies -- they came right to attention for the second award.

SN N.D. received a Commandant's Letter of Commendation for his efforts as our Aviation Petty Officer, Boat Davit Operator, and Boatswain's Mate of the Watch -- all positions normally held by petty officers. He assisted with the qualification of 35 Gangway Petty Officers of the Watch, 24 Helm and Lookouts, three dual point davit operators; two single point davit operators, two cutter surface swimmers and eight helicopter tie down personnel. And he was a great barber for the crew. He has been onboard for just over 18 months.

SN R.M., aka Ricky Bobby, is the senior statesman of non-rated personnel onboard. He's been on DILIGENCE for three years and eight months. During his departing remarks, he kicked all the other non-rates in the ass and said, "Get your name on an A school list and go to school; 4 years is too long to be a non-rate." His accomplishments were documented in a Coast Guard Achievement Medal. He deployed with a Dutch ship to be a helicopter tie-down when they took a Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) helo on patrol in support of the CG's counternarcotics mission. He worked for the Navigation division for the better part of a year, and filled in all the gaps while the division was without a Third Class Petty Officer for about three months. He stood over 56 hours of security watch during a recent 150-hour boarding, looking for drugs. He qualified as Gangway Petty Officer of the Watch, Sounding and Security Watch Stander, Helm/Lookout, Helicopter Tie Down Crew, Davit Operator, Boatswain's Mate of the Watch, and Quarter Master of the Watch, a position normally held by petty officers, while also helping his shipmates earn more than 180 (!!!) qualifications. And he save the CG over $7000 in labor costs when he replaced a bunch of insulation in living spaces during last summer's drydock.

I wish the best for these three young men. They have untold adventures waiting for them! They worked so hard for this ship and their shipmates while they were onboard, and I don't expect that will change for any of them as they go off to school and their next units. And while I'd like to think that each of our departing members' achievements are worth documenting here, I know I'll get lazy and not do it. These three are good choices to highlight. They each came from very different backgrounds, spent some time together, lived in tough conditions, did a dangerous job and survived, even thrived, to tell the stories. Fair winds and following seas, shipmates. See ya' round the fleet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ninjaneers Have a Busy Day

Our engineers have had an exciting day. Some of it was intentional -- like training. Some of it was not so intentional.

We started the day with BECCEs, Basic Engineering Casualty Control Exercises, where the engineers practice responding to all kinds of mechanical and electrical casualties while on watch in the engine room. I don't think we were supposed to lose power during this morning's BECCEs, but sometimes that happens if the watchstanders get a little too aggressive in responding to the scenarios presented by ECTT (Engineering Casualty Training Team).

Then we rolled into a ship-wide Damage Control drill, where we practiced responding to a major fuel oil leak in the engine room that flashed off to an out of control class Bravo fire. Heat stress stay time in the engine room was only 45 minutes in an FPG (fire protective garment -- the fireman's suit worn by the people who go into the space to actively fight the fire), so the training team "extinguished the fire" as soon as the first attack team demonstrated proper fire fighting techniques -- three people on the hose, good communications, staying low, proper spray pattern, etc.).

We had just finished up our Training Team debrief after the drill, and much of the crew was sitting down to a well-deserved lunch when we heard ringingingringinging... once again it took me a minute to figure out that we had an actual emergency. This time it was flooding in MAA (pronounced "em-ay-ay") Stores, which definitely made me scratch my head, because MAA Stores is above the water line, and shouldn't have any water coming in to it. Turns out the fire main valve that goes into the Fore Peak tank just below MAA Stores had been left open while we energized the fire main for the aforementioned drill, and pumped about 250 gallons of salt water per minute into the Fore Peak tank, which pressed the water level all the way up to the top of the tank, and out the overflow openings into MAA stores. We had about six inches of water on the deck when ENS E.H. discovered it on his pre-watch round before going up to the bridge to stand break-in OOD. Definitely demonstrated the importance of thorough rounds to an impressionable young Ensign!

That emergency was quickly resolved and we stood down from General Emergency and stowed all gear. The really good news was that our MAA and Assistant MAAs had done such a great job organizing MAA Stores before we got underway that there was not a bunch of paper products (paper towels and napkins) stored on the deck, so we may have just lost a bag of coffee filters to the flooding.

Later in the afternoon, while preparing for small boat training, we lost power. Something about a power relay being faulty and tripping which shut down the generator. The EDG (emergency diesel generator) kicked on like it was supposed to, and provided power to vital circuits throughout the ship. But the engineers had another exciting couple of hours troubleshooting and fixing the mayhem from that gremlin's appearance.

And then, one of the air conditioners kicked off line for a while. Like 2 hours. And it was **HOT!** onboard. Mostly it was in the aft part of the ship, so berthing areas mostly stayed cool. But the messdeck, Chiefs Mess and wardroom all got pretty unbearable for a while. Once again, the engineers troubleshot and repaired the problem as quickly as they could.

It's days like this that make me appreciate the very hard job that Coast Guard engineers onboard cutters face every day. They do it generally with a smile, maybe a little cheerful bitching, but they do it. Day in. Day out. And as a whole, they come up with creative ways to troubleshoot and repair troublesome problems, mostly just with what we carry around with us. The repairs may not be permanent, or pretty, but they're good enough to get us through the operation and to our next logistics stop where parts should be waiting for us for more long-term fixes. And then they work through the port calls to get stuff fixed so we're ready to go again when the port call is over. I've seen it time and time again. And I'm impressed with it. Every.Single.Time.