Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's A Small World After All

In the scope of the Armed Services, the Coast Guard is the smallest at about
48,000 members, including active duty, reserves and civilian employees --
should be somewhere close if I remember my Body Shop numbers correctly. And
the afloat community is a subset within the Coast Guard -- at some point I
must have heard the number of personnel afloat at any one time, but I can't
remember it right now. Maybe 4,000 to 6,000 people stationed on ships? And
of course there are folks that are cuttermen who happen to currently serve
ashore, or people that you've run into at previous jobs that have also since
moved on.

Our patrol area right now is rich with shipmates I know from previous
encounters. My last supervisor is commanding a WMEC homeported here, and I
worked with his XO while we were both at HQ; another WMEC is commanded by a
friend I met while at HQ; I know the Sector Logistics Department Head from
HQ; one of my 12ATAs is commanding a patrol boat homeported here; the
Seventh crew XO from my time in Bahrain is on another patrol boat here; my
OS1 from Bahrain advanced a while back and is now an OSC on an WMEC here;
walking across the base a couple of patrols ago, I ran into one of my ENSs
from when I was OPS who has his own patrol boat now. I'm sure there are
others, but those are the folks I can think of off the top of my very tired
head right now.

Shoots, I think I might know more people here than I do in Wilmington!

There's a great sense of community that comes from sailing into a port call,
getting tied up and then walking across the pier to talk sea stories with
friends, peers and shipmates I may not have seen in five years. It's an
understanding, a shared experience of being underway on a Coast Guard cutter
-- not having to explain all the acronyms and evolutions, having experienced
the exasperation of JOs that are still learning or logistics that don't
always work as expected, the giddiness of having things go, maybe not
perfectly, but right enough to get the job done and dodging Murphy's bullet
one more time. And always the sea stories. This one time, off the coast of
Panama...

Today at dinner, we were talking about the other ships we're working with in
the area. I hadn't been paying attention to exactly who was out here and was
delightfully surprised to be reminded that one of my friends is CO of one of
the boats. CO and OPS asked me where I knew him from, and then came the
inevitable stories about when we sailed together (XO, who's whistling on the
bridge?!?!!). And when I got back to my stateroom from dinner, I had an
email from my friend, inviting me over to his boat for lunch since we'll be
working in the same area for a while. It'll be great to visit, and also see
how he has matured as a leader and shipmate since we last sailed together. I
hope he can say the same 

I don't really feel like I've done this topic justice. I'm sitting here with
a grin on my face typing this post, can't quite figure out why -- there's
just something special about seeing old shipmates out and about in the
fleet. 

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
**UNDERWAY**

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