Thursday, May 28, 2015

Keeping Busy

It's been a slow operational start to the patrol. The weather isn't really great, and I think that has hampered action that would otherwise be keeping us busy.

So what do you do when you have 75 people out to sea for a couple of weeks at a time with not much going on? We spent a lot of time last patrol working on proficiency in preparation for transfer season. This patrol, we're continuing the focus on proficiency, especially since we're starting to get some turnover of people. Four of our non-rated personnel stayed ashore when we left homeport a few weeks ago. Their average time onboard was just over 22 months. SN Mike Patti is headed off to IS A school, after a 3-year wait. The look on his face when he got his orders was *priceless!* He couldn't stop grinning all day long. SN Vincent Deegan and SN Phil Cook were in the same boot camp company, came to the DILI on the same day, and left to go to the same ME A school class. And FN Jeremy Hunt is going to brave AST A school. My best wishes for all of them on the next step of their careers!

But we'll miss them. Among them, they had a ton of experience. We got a few new guys in before we left, and are getting more to fill the empty billets throughout the patrol. It's definitely the start of a busy transfer season, and we need to make the most of the time we have underway to qualify people as quickly as possible so we don't see any operational impacts of losing so many qualified and well-trained people in the span of three months.

In order to help with this, my goal is to have one Integrated Training Team (ITT) drill and one unannounced drill per week. The ITT works to design and implement drills that span across training specialties to impose realistic and cascading casualties. What happens if you lose an engine due to a unusual metallic noise (Engineering Casualty Training Team (ETT)) while trying to recover a man overboard (Navigation and Seamanship Training Team (NSTT)) who has a compound fracture of the leg because of a shark bite (Medical Training Team (MTT))? Do people know how to respond to bad things that happen because of other bad things?

In order to keep from getting bored, the training teams have to be creative about what kind of casualties they impose. We can't do a Main Space Fire drill Every. Single. Time. and expect people to maintain enthusiasm and energy when attacking the casualty.


So I got a little distracted by the patrol and paused this post for a while. SN Deegan is headed back to the ship after getting selected for an Officer Candidate School (OCS) class later this summer. So excited for him!

But the pace of the patrol hasn't picked up much. We're still doing lots of training. We conducted a gun shoot last week, where we shot rounds from our .50 caliber machine guns and 25 mm machine gun. At the same time, we simulated taking rounds and damage to different parts of the ship. YN1 Linton Holmes suffered a (simulated) sucking chest wound on the bridge, and was able-y relieved as phone talker and damage control plotter by BM1 Al Albert and the two First Class cadets we have onboard. 1/C Maggie Hine and 1/C Victoria Sutherland took turns talking to DC Central about how they were combating the shipboard casualties. There was a lot of "request you say again"s as they got used to listening to the sound-powered phone over the noise of the .50 cals going off less than 10 feet behind them. When they weren't talking on the phone, they were conning the ship to keep the target in range. But our ship was saved, despite taking two "hits" from an aggressive target. The aggressive target -- well, let's just say our orange pumpkin target has a few more holes taken out of it than it did before.

We also have four Third Class cadets onboard. 3/Cs Choi, Chambers, Campbell and Furry have already qualified as Helm and Lookouts, and are progressing well on their basic damage control qualification. We'll be sending them back to the Academy with some great sea stories!

And we found a great fishing spot. Not gonna tell you all where it is. But over the course of two days, we caught about half a dozen tuna and rainbow runners, and three wahoos. The biggest wahoo was 36 pounds. I'm looking forward to a sashimi platter here soon.

And lastly, I've been meaning to post this link for a while, but here's a video put together by (then) SN Andrew Davern, BM3 Jake Rorabeck, and BM3 Anthony Sanabria, with help from the entire crew. This is footage from my first patrol onboard last September/October...right before our 50th Anniversary celebration. Enjoy!!