Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Quarters

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.

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