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

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