Monday, February 29, 2016

Best Laid Plans

The best laid plans of mice and XOs are disrupted with disturbing frequency.
We had a perfectly good plan for tomorrow. It got a lot done, moving us
closer to our specific goals for the patrol. But then circumstances beyond
our control changed, and now we have a new plan. It's not quite as nice as
the old plan, but it's a good plan, a safe plan, a plan that helps the
overall goal of the patrol.

There's another saying I'm reminded of tonight: "Wanna know how to make God
laugh? Make a plan."

You'd think after all the upheaval of plans I have experienced from being on
Coast Guard boats for so long, I'd have long ago given up on planning.
Somehow that's not what happens though. It makes me cling even harder to the
next plan. I always have to have a plan, even if it's totally tentative with
a bunch of different options. I feel a little untethered without a plan,
like anything can happen and usually the bad stuff will. Planning is a
containment spell for the gremlins and demons that can come from the cracks
and crevices in one's attention and wreak havoc on one's life.

Ok, maybe that's a little too far, but you get the idea. It's a habit that
will be very hard to break whenever I find myself not needing to plan so
much.

Well, on a positive note, we don't have to get up quite so early tomorrow
morning. And I was still awake when things changed and it was relatively
easy to get out a new POD (Plan of the Day) for tomorrow.

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

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Boat Ride!

I had forgotten how much fun small boat rides are! We met up with an FRC
this morning to pick up some migrants they interdicted last night. Their OPS
came over to DILI to brief us on some of their medical conditions, so I took
the opportunity for a quick ride over to their boat to say hi. I've
exchanged a few emails with their XO, and figured putting a face to a name
is always a good idea. 

A small boat moves differently than the cutter, which is really a statement
that is brutally obvious. Of course it moves differently. But when I was in
the small boat, my body moved differently too. I spent a decent amount of
time in the small boat when I was XO on WASHINGTON, back from 2002 to 2004,
but not much time in one since then. My body remembered that it needed to
just accept the movement, and not try to fight it, even more so than it does
on the cutter when it's rough. We didn't build up too much speed, and it was
definitely good conditions -- otherwise, I know boat rides can be not so
much fun. More like a series of car crashes about every 30 seconds if a boat
is speeding through six to eight foot seas, on a go-fast chase, say.

The waves were a little choppy, maybe about a foot of chop and a two foot
swell...relatively calm compared to some of the crap we've seen this patrol.
I got a good amount of spray on me, but thankfully no full dousing. It's
always a little dicey getting onto and off of the small boat, but the
coxswain did a nice job of keeping us steady alongside. Then it's just a
matter of timing the swell to step off the ladder on a trough, and step onto
the ladder at the crest of a swell. I managed with better than my usual
(lack of) grace.

My boat ride lasted maybe 7 minutes total there and back, but I had a big
grin on my face for the rest of the day. 

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Idea of Mentoring

I'm still not used to the idea of being a mentor. Sure, I participate in an
online mentoring program that matches mentees with mentors, and I've got the
leadership pro dev series that we do onboard underway. But, it always takes
me a little by surprise, particularly when I'm talking to young
women/officers, that they will look up to me and value the lessons I've
learned from my experiences.

Then again, it also takes me a little by surprise to remember I have nearly
nine and a half years of sea time, have served on six ships, been CO of two,
and am about to put on CDR! Somehow in my mind, I just started this gig a
couple years ago, and am still learning what I'm supposed to be doing.

I forget that there just aren't that many senior women cuttermen. The ones
we have are great! and I'm definitely grateful to have them as my own role
models, but right now (and I know I risk getting these numbers wrong), I
think there are maybe six female LCDRs or senior serving as CO, XO or
Department Head on major/white hull cutters (I'm not including WLB-225s
here, simply because I don't know much about that community...shame on me)
-- out of a fleet of 37ish (?? -- I can't keep up with the WMSLs coming
on-line and the WHECs getting decom'ed...I'll need to start knowing that
soon enough!) WMSLs, WHECs, WMEC-270s and -210s. If my math is right (and I
make no promises), that's less than seven percent of senior cuttermen jobs
are currently held by women. And I'm one of them. Shit, that's sobering. 

This is not a post to bemoan the fact that there are so few women afloat --
that's a whole 'nother post. This is simply a recognition that I am in an
exceedingly select group, and I am still learning the importance and gravity
of that role. I had an encounter today that very strongly reinforced this
particular lesson, so this idea of mentoring is on my mind.

The "mentoring" I give is mostly storytelling, with a few nuggets or themes
of things that have worked for me or ways of looking at things that make
things make better sense. And most of the time, I just listen and tell them
that being on the vertical part of a learning curve always sucks and that
they're not alone...and that's usually exactly what they need to hear. 

I'll say it again -- what we do is hard. Not everyone can do what we do. But
(for now) I think it's worth it, especially if you can do it well.

One of these days, I'm going to start to compile those lessons learned and
sea stories into something. If nothing else than to just get them out of my
head.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Moonlight

It is seductively gorgeous outside tonight. There's a full moon, with a few
scattered clouds in the sky. The seas are calm. A light breeze is dusting
across our decks. 

I went outside to see if I could get a cell signal to make a phone call (I
couldn't -- or at least not enough of one for the call to go through), and
could almost read by the light of the moon. One of these nights, I'm going
to work up the courage to sleep out on deck on a night like tonight. I'm not
sure why I haven't yet -- maybe the thought of sleeping on the 25 mm gun
mount grated deck is putting me off. That stuff hurts to even sit on for
more than five minutes. And after another busy day like today, with tomorrow
looking to be more of the same, I value the quality of my sleep.

But the moonlight is definitely tempting...

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Some Luck

Sometimes there's just nothing interesting to write about. Today was busy,
but at the end of it, I'm not sure what we did. I know we had a General
Quarters drill, where we practiced manning up for a combat situation, i.e.,
bad guys shooting back at us. It was pretty fun, actually. The geopolitical
scenario may have been a little far-fetched, but we trained on how to react
to a bunch of different casualties, including ones from battle damage like
machine gun fire ("RAT-A-TAT-TAT, RAT-A-TAT-TAT" over the 1MC) or an rocket
propelled grenade (RPG) hit ("KA-POW" over the 1MC -- I really need to
redownload my sound effects app). There was a bit of franticness on the
bridge when the first hit took out our helmsman, but the sound-powered phone
talker stepped in to steer the ship for a minute or two until the lookout
could come down from the fly bridge. Around the rest of the ship, Repair
Lockers combated flooding in the JP-5 pump room back aft and a fire that
started in OPS/SUPPORT berthing and spread forward into OPS/DECK head and
aft into YN1's office. Our gun crews destroyed and sank two of the bad guys'
vessels, and the last one ran away after they realized they were severely
out-gunned by us...all prompted by Training Team members of course.

There were the Training Team briefs and debriefs before and after the drill.
We're practicing for Command Assessment of Readiness for Training (CART) and
Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA, pronounced tiss-tah) which are
barreling down on us next month for CART, and May for TSTA. We've been doing
a pretty good job of working through all the CART checklists (over 1500 line
items in all, I think), and are making sure our Training Teams work
separately and can integrate together. I should write a post on the training
cycle -- but not tonight. That might be a multi-day project. 

We also sent a couple guys over to an FRC operating near us for a little
professional exchange...except they didn't send us anyone in return, so it's
not really an exchange. Hope they're having fun over there tonight. 

And all the usual evening round of meetings. Fish call was piped at about
1630; fish on was called over the radio just before sunset -- with tales of
the 5-1/2 foot marlin that got away bemoaned soon after. There was a baggie
full of fresh caught mahi on the fish cleaning table when I went back to the
fantail to check out sunset though...so at least the fishermen had some
luck.

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Beautiful Day

It was the definition of a beautiful day today. Bright blue sky, with a
scattering a clouds dancing their way across the sky; a light breeze that
kept the sun from burning too hot. The water was crystalline, so many colors
of blue and green and turquoise. 

1LT did a fantastic job of getting us underway from the pier, with the wind
directly down the pier and a slight ebb current once we got out into the
turning basin. He drove the ship almost exactly according to the plan he
talked about at the navigation brief, with one slight variation to counter
the ebb that shifted the stern a little more forcefully than we expected.
There were a ton of Sunday afternoon boaters enjoying the weather, and WEPS
contacted a couple of them to make sure we weren't going to collide with
anyone on the way out. There was a little uncertainty when 1LT misunderstood
that we were pretty far right of track, and we really should take that green
buoy down the starboard side, but he quickly adjusted, and away we went. We
caught an extra knot of speed from the falling ebb current until we were
well away from shore. 

And on the way to meet up with another ship, a rainbow glowed off the port
side, short and fat in the clouds. 

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Conversations

We have some interesting conversations on the ship. Last night, walking back
to the ship relatively early (before 2200) from an event put on by the
Chiefs' Mess, I commented to OPS how tough it was being an introvert in the
Coast Guard. He agreed. But neither one of us felt the slightest bit awkward
at going back to our respective rooms, shutting the door, and enjoying some
quiet time all by our onesies. I recognize that, as an introvert, I am
extremely lucky and privileged to have my own room on the ship. The guys who
live in shared berthing areas definitely don't have that luxury. They can
close their rack curtain and that's about it. 

And then this evening, walking back early from dinner out, OPS, MPA and I
talked about the elasticity of time underway. OPS said he had no sense of
time during the last stretch we were underway. He knew all of what we did,
but he could not put it in chronological order if he tried. Time is weird
underway. We'll have days and days that are slow, that drag like a flat
tire, and then the very next moment will fly by with a nitro injection.
We're over three-quarters of the way through this patrol -- sometimes I
think we just got underway, and sometimes it feels like we've been underway
for an eternity, and other times it feels just about right. I try to write
stuff down in my day planner as it happens, so I remember later how things
happened, somewhat for help in writing my OER input, and sometimes just so I
can recall the order of events. Things get jumbled otherwise. 

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mundanities

I wish I had something profound for today. Even something moderately
interesting. Once again, I find myself wanting to tell the story about
today, but being constrained by OPSEC concerns. It's not an unusual day, but
I don't think giving details about what we've done today is a good idea. 

So mundanities -- the bits of mundane-ness that make up our days. The
weather is blowing pretty good today, about 20 to 25 knots. Made our
operations today that much more challenging with the wind. With some good
skill and communications by the watchstanders, we safely accomplished what
we set out to do. 

Computers are still being a pain. It's so torturous to want to get work done
and be completely stymied by an internet connection that loads a new page
every 60 seconds. I want to be more productive, but a huge portion of my
work is online, so I'm forced to be completely be unproductive if I want to
get anything done at all. Does that even make sense?!?

Oh, and we had a pelican visit us on the fo'clse this morning. The QMOW
called me to let me know it was there, because he and the OOD thought I'd
like to know. That made me smile. So I went up to the bridge to take a look.
Yup, sitting proudly right there on the starboard vent to the laundry room,
was a big, beautiful pelican, feet splayed for stability, with his enormous
beak tucked against his chest. He hung out for a few minutes until folks
came out onto the fo'csle to get ready for our next evolution. Then he flew
placidly away, and took a great big dump about 200 yards off the bow. At
least he was polite enough to wait until he was off our deck.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Good, The Frustrating, The Profound


Lots of good stuff today. Lots of frustrating stuff today. That's the way
the days go, underway. 

Let's see, how did the day start, again? Oh right...sunrise yoga. I put my
mat down as far forward as I could on the flight deck, on the starboard side
to get as much lee as I could from the wind. As I stretched back into my
third reverse warrior, I caught a glimpse of a glowing red sky peaking
between the cutter boat and its cradle. "Red sky in the morning, sailors
take warning" passed through my thoughts. Thankfully, it turned out to be a
gorgeous day.

I came in from yoga and tried logging on to my computer for my morning
ritual of checking emails before breakfast. Nope, wasn't going to happen.
Something was messed up with our server; IT2 JM was already talking to
TISCOM about it. But without a computer to work on, I wasted a large part of
my morning feeling like there was stuff I should be doing, but then
remembering that I couldn't. 

After lunch we met up with an FRC and took a group of migrants from them.
They had picked the people up yesterday. One of the group was a little girl
with her mother and father. Now, we've been doing this mission for nearly
six weeks at this point, but we hadn't seen any kids yet. It was hard. She's
a lovely little girl, holding tight to her dad's hand, maybe seven or eight
years old. She got a high-five from one of our crew on the fantail helping
them get settled on the flight deck. I wonder what she'll remember from this
experience. She's old enough to remember what happens, but maybe not old
enough to understand the why behind it all. Transferred from ship to ship,
hopefully she remembers men and women in dark blue who thoughtfully cared
for her well-being, looked after her for a few days and treated her like the
adorable little girl she is.

All afternoon long, and into the evening, it was a beautiful day. We haven't
had too many flat calm days this patrol. I'm determined to appreciate them
when we get them. Flat calm seas are a delight for personnel transfers. We
did, I don't know, maybe five of them today. Boat to the rail, boat in the
water, boat away, boat alongside, boat at the rail, boat in the cradle. I
heard a lot of that today. All done safely and smoothly thanks to the
exceptional professionalism of our coxswains, boat crewman, line handlers,
davit operators, boat deck supervisors, and boarding team members. 

As we were launching the boat for the umpteenth time today, I realized that
one of the things that I really like about this mission is the profound
sense of Coast Guard camaraderie we get to revel in while we're here. We saw
and worked with a station boat, an FRC and their small boat, and a WMEC 270
today. How cool is that? And we've had more days where we see other CG units
than days that we haven't this patrol. I think it's a very real reminder
that we're part of something much bigger than ourselves when we see and work
directly with other units. Heck, I don't know why it's such a thrill -- but
it is!

And after all that today, the sunset. The picture doesn't hardly do it
justice. So many colors filled the sky, with electric gold singeing the
clouds, rays of light beaming through the gaps, and blues and greys and
pinks and peaches and violets and silvers all mixed in, changing
imperceptibly every second so it was never the same before and after a blink
of the eyes. And just before full dark, a faint pink glow reflected the last
of the sun's rays, a blush of color in the night sky.

The good, the frustrating, the profound...just another day underway. 

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





Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cell Phone Tower

We've been relatively close to shore for a good portion of this patrol.
Which is unlike a lot of our other patrols, where we're off in the middle of
the ocean, a couple hundred miles from the closest rock sticking out of the
water. And those rocks are usually foreign rocks where we couldn't use our
cell phones anyway.

Each time we get underway, we restrict cell phone use by the crew. Again,
normally, it's not an issue, because we're so far offshore we don't get a
signal. But when we are close to shore, we still restrict cell phone use
because of all the temptations cell phones offer. During the workday, we
have other things that need to get done from which we cannot be distracted.
Cell phones can offer bad guys insights into where we're operating. They can
be a distraction, especially dangerous at watchstations -- which totally
isn't allowed.

But they can also be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends at
home. We gave the crew very strict guidelines about what they can and cannot
say when they make calls, so we don't run afoul of OPSEC rules, and so far
everyone is doing a great job of following those rules. And since we have
the ability, we've been opening the cell phone tower for use most evenings
after the workday so people can call home. We pipe, "Now, the cell phone
tower is open for all hands not currently on watch." And out come the cell
phones. I walked through the berthing areas soon after the cell phone tower
was piped open, and there was not a single soul in two of them. Everyone was
out on deck, aiming their phone at the sky to get a signal.

The really funny part was a couple of days ago when someone asked if they
needed to turn the cell phone tower on before making a call, thinking that
there was actually a piece of equipment onboard that either amplified the
signal from shore, or jammed signals coming off the ship. Got a good chuckle
out of that.

Friends and family, don't get too upset with me if I'm not making phone
calls from underway. I check my phone when I can when the tower is open, but
then usually get distracted by the next thing I need to get done. Besides,
if you heard from me every day, coming home wouldn't be quite so special.

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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

For The Birds

I got up early(-ish) this morning and spent 45 minutes walking the exterior
decks of the ship to get a little exercise. When I started, I stayed on the
01-deck, which is the boat deck, fo'csle and flight deck. Round and round I
went, until FN NB and FA KL came out to do boat checks on the CB-L. At that
point I went forward on the starboard side fo'csle, aft on the port side and
down the ladder to the portside main deck, back to the fantail, forward up
the starboard main deck, and up the ladder to the fo'csle again.

My powers of observation were not that great. It took me about two laps to
process that there was an enormous amount of bird shit on the very forward
part of the fo'csle, just under the jack staff. Some jack-hat sea gull had
likely perched for a few hours on the jackstaff, and had an entirely merry
time of relieving himself in the same spot. Or maybe it took two birds. I
meant to say something to 1LT to make sure the Deckies scrubbed it off
before it became completely enameled to the deck. 

But it got me to thinking about other bird encounters, or bird-related
encounters. I couldn't stop from giggling when I remembered a fresh water
wash down episode from two patrols ago. I think we had just finished up a
wash down, and I was up on the bridge. Some of the guys were talking about a
bird that had been hanging out for a few days, finding perches where he (or
she???) could. It happens sometime, especially when we're a couple days away
from any type of land, where birds will get exhausted and catch a ride with
us for a few days of rest before heading back on their journey
to...wherever. They're pretty fun to watch, and the only downside is their
unwillingness to not shit everywhere, including sometimes, hilariously, on a
person out on deck. This time, though, BM1 CP was on watch up on the bridge,
and a small object hanging over the side of the bridge wing awning caught
his eye. He cussed a little about someone leaving a damn rag up there, and
went to grab it as something else dragged his immediate attention away from
the "rag." The "rag" was really the poor bird's tail, and the bird squawked
and flapped its wings indignantly at having its tail so rudely pulled. BM1
jumped like he had grabbed a live wire and he may have even squawked back at
the bird a little. The thought crossed my mind that it was the bird just as
his hand closed around feathers, or I would have said something to
him...maybe. It was pretty damn funny.

Other bird encounters are not so amusing. Like the time when I was OPS on
HAMILTON when our helo's blades struck a bird as it was landing, and bend
the blades. The bird was atomized, and the blades were bent. We spent four
days in a hellishly hot Acajutla, El Salvador with no liberty beyond the
phones on the end of the pier while we waited for new blades to be shipped,
and then installed and then tested. It was a long ass four days of surging
up against the tractor trailer tire fenders they had on the pier. Or the
time before that, when I was on my first ship, working with another 378' in
the local area, and they had a bird strike on their helo blades while I was
looking through the binoculars at them. All I saw was a PUFF of feathers,
and then their engines shut down and their rotors stop. Bird strikes are
bad.

I also have a bird dilemma. I currently have four swallow tattoos on my left
torso. Two I got in Panama City, Panama; one I got in Bahrain; and one I got
in Hilo, Hawaii. Swallows are a traditional sailors' tattoo, each bird
indicating 5,000 miles sailed. I could have more swallows, but I like the
idea of getting one more somewhere in the Caribbean to round out where I've
sailed. My dilemma is do I get one at our next port call in a not entirely
exotic port of call that is still in the US, or do I chance it for next
patrol, when we're supposed to get at least one foreign port call in a truly
tropical place? Bird in the hand, or two in the bush? There's a chance that,
if I don't get the tattoo on this patrol, any port calls we make next patrol
may be all GTMO stops, and that would truly defeat my tattoo goals. Like I
said, it's a dilemma. I know I'll probably wait, but it makes me nervous,
and stirs up my superstitions about expectations.

Here's to no more bird shit on the fo'clse.

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

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lazy Day

I've needed a lazy day for a while and today I finally got one. Slept late,
moseyed out for a mid-day yoga class (oh -- we're on a port call -- finally)
after a decadent decaf latte, ate a plate of delicious carnitas tacos and
moseyed back to the ship for a nap. I read through some message traffic and
checked our airport terminal to see if we had any new orders on it (no). And
then met some friends out for a lovely sushi dinner. After dinner, on my
stroll back to the ship, I made some phone calls so I had company for my
walk. 

Gotta have a lazy day every now and again.

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

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Budget Nerdiness

We're close enough to get a cell signal tonight, so I turned my phone on for
a few minutes. A Facebook notification popped up saying one of my very
bestest of friends posted a picture of the FY2017 Budget Coordinator getting
ready to head to Capitol Hill for the first round of FY2017 President's
Budget roll-out briefings. One of the comments on the picture had a link to
the budget:
www.uscg.mil/budget/docs/USCG_FY2017_Congressional_Jusitifcation.pdf.

I'm trying to download 1.6MB with underway connectivity. It may load by the
start of FY2017. 

It's going to take me a while to digest it because the format has changed
from what I'm used to. I see some interesting nuggets that I want to read
about more carefully. The nerdy thing is that I'm probably going to stay up
way too late, after a very long day, to at least glance through it for the
highlights.

Once a budget nerd, always a budget nerd.

Congrats, CG-82, on another successful Pres Bud submission! With all the
changes to how it's formatted, I know you guys put in some crazy long hours
to get this together. Good luck on the Hill!!

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

**Music!!**

After yesterday's very whiny post, I'll try to be more positive today. Which
is much, much easier because I have **music!!** again. 

About a week ago, I sent my sister an email: 
"Hi sis,

I have a huge favor/gift request if you want to swing it and/or have the
time to do it. 

I used to have an ipod shuffle, a little bitty thing that had a bunch of
music
on it, that I listened to in my stateroom. We took a massive roll a couple
of weeks ago that launched nearly everything off my desk. Including my
shuffle.
I have no idea which nook or cranny it fell into, but after hours of tearing
my room apart, I am forced into the conclusion that the shuffle has been
sacrificed to Neptune through the mighty maw of DILIGENCE. 

I'm *craving* music. Background stuff that complements the white noise of
the ventilation and drowns out the chatter in my head as I work.
Singer-songwriter, outlaw country, rockabilly, sea shanties, even some
classical would be wonderful.

If you can, would you mind putting some tunes on an i-something (that's the
type of speaker assembly that's in my room) and sending it to me at our next
port call? If you want to ask family for help with it, that would be lovely
too. 

ONLY IF YOU HAVE TIME!!!!!

This is totally a "nice to have" :)"

She sent me a purple one. Because she likes purple. I've been looking
forward to getting it for days. And yesterday, the modern miracle of mail
came through!

The shuffle had quite a trip...we sent our small boats in (both of them) for
a logistics run. We had someone flying out today, but the weather was
supposed
to get bad, so I wanted to get him to shore while we could. We were out of
milk and produce. I asked for a veggie scramble yesterday morning, and was
told the
only veggies the cooks had left were onions. And our starboard main deck
landfill
was overflowing. We don't have any way to process trash onboard except a
trash 
compactor. And after as long as we've been underway since our last port
call, especially with migrants on deck, we were starting to run out of room
to put our trash. I needed to get some of it gone.

The point of all this was that, since we were going in anyway, I had the
guys pick up our mail. Which means I got my shuffle. Love the Allison Krause
and 
Paul Simon. There's also some great stuff that I don't know what it is.
Uncle Heathen contributed some, as did Aunt Nancy. It's fun trying to figure
out whose music is whose 

I grinned for the rest of the afternoon. 

Then this morning I laughed out loud when "Take It Easy" by The Eagles came
on. I told my sister years ago that it was one of my favorite songs. We
played it on MAUI as our breakaway song after fueling from a US Navy cruiser
working in the area. It was a glorious flat calm day, and it was definitely
the best life's soundtrack song for that moment. I was so happy to hear the
song...it took me right back to that moment in the NAG.

And then I laughed again when the next song was "Semper Paratus"...while I
cussed her a little bit. When I told her that, she emailed me back, "Excuse
me, *I* am not the person who put your shuffle on, er, shuffle!!!"

I know I've said it a bunch, but thanks again, sis. You make this sailor's
journey that much easier every day! Even before the shuffle.

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What I Don't Talk About

I got to thinking that maybe this is sounding too much like a pleasure
cruise... sunrise yoga, Tuesday Trivia Night, Super Bowl parties, and pizza,
cake and ice cream. We put a great deal of effort into morale onboard.
Mostly we're successful. Usually. 

What I try not to write about, because it sounds too much like bitching and
whining, is all the effort that goes into being underway and doing the Coast
Guard mission. Every department onboard, every division, and every single
individual works hard on this ship. Sure, maybe some work harder than
others, and each person has their own responsibilities. But we're all in it
together, and I'm almost certain, that if asked for help by a shipmate, any
one on this ship would pitch in to assist.

What I don't talk about are the chat messages, emails or phone calls at 3 am
that change our tasking for the day, wiping out hours of OPS' and CO's hard
work planning evolutions and coordinating schedules so that boat transfers
and migrant operations go off without a hitch. 

I don't talk about the two hours of watch stood by the lookouts up on the
fly bridge when the winds are cranking at 28-plus knots. We usually bring
them down to the bridge proper when it gets that windy, but they're still
outside, staring into the distance, trying to pick up merchant vessels,
recreational boats, or migrant rusticas...getting scoured by the salt air.

I don't talk about the migrant interdiction at 3 am when the guys onboard
are not compliant and don't want to come with us. They had 74 people working
hard and wanting them to be safe, and they were pissy about having to put on
life jackets and the tyvek suits and then threw their personal rain jackets
overboard. 

I don't talk about the troubleshooting the engineers do in the engine room
on pick-a-piece-of-equipment that's usually so old that component parts are
no longer made (and if they are, have a 6 to 8 week lead time). Never mind
that average temperatures in the engine room are over 100 degrees,
especially if we have both main diesel engines running at even moderately
high speeds. Never mind that they come up with complex solutions for
troubleshooting, ingenious work-arounds while our logistical support system
works to get them needed parts, and just plain make stuff function,
sometimes with PFM (pure f'ing magic) and their blood, sweat and tears.

I don't talk about the cooks that steam over a hot griddle, steam racks
billowing steam, baking ovens, and more steam from the steam kettles. All
for 74 meals three times a day that people have no problem telling them when
they suck. Never mind talking about the mess cooks cleaning dishes in the
scullery, or taking trash to be compacted, or putting all the leftovers
through the macerator.

I don't talk about the Navigation BMs who prep charts for a planned port
call, only to scramble to prep different charts when the port call gets
changed with 2 days notice, and then changed again with 6 hours notice.
Nope, the charts always seem to be ready.

I don't talk about how every time it rains, the EMs end up chasing some
ground or another because there's not enough monkey shit on this planet to
plug up all the nooks and crannies that water can get into around wires on
this ship. And how every time the EMs chase a ground, they have to flip off
breakers to figure out where the ground is, and sometimes it's my computer
and I lose all the 3 hours of work I should have saved, but didn't because
I'm a dumbass and I didn't listen to the pipe when it told me to, "Place all
sensitive electronic equipment in standby while the EMs chase a ground." 

I could not talk about something for every division onboard. But I'm tired.
I didn't sleep much last night after one of those phone calls that changed
everything for the day, and I spent the next four hours reracking the POD in
my head until it was time to get up and actually make the changes happen.
But I'm not gonna talk about that either.

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl Sunday

Our schedule changed a few days so, instead of being on a port call for
Super Bowl Sunday to enjoy the game, we're underway. According to one of
guys who extended to a 4-year tour onboard, this is DILGIENCE's 4th year
underway for the Super Bowl. (I know it's a bummer, but we've had
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's inport both years I've been here, so
I'm not going to complain too much.)

At least we have satellite TV. It's been working decently this patrol,
though it struggles to keep a good signal on a couple of courses, and cuts
out during a turn, until we steady up on a new, good course.

So once we found out we were going to be underway for the game, we had some
planning to do. EMC WE came up with the fantastic idea to order pizzas for
the crew and send the small boat in to pick them up during a logistics run.
I was a little worried until about mid-day today that something operational
would interfere, or that the weather would be bad enough that we couldn't
launch the small boats. We tried to keep it a secret from the crew, which is
super hard to do. These guys are smart, so we had to come up with a
plausible reason for FSC MP to ride in with the small boat (besides paying
for the pizzas). I think we were about 65% successful at keeping it a
secret, but 100% successful at improving morale onboard.

The cooks also made up some irresistible queso and chips. And FS1 DP made a
Super Bowl cake...chocolate cake with homemade icing, in a football field
pattern, "Broncos" stenciled on one end, and "Panthers" on the other. Oh,
and green sparkles to highlight the green turf icing. The Half Time treat
was Super Bowl cake and birthday cake ice cream. 

About 3 minutes into the first quarter, the phone in the wardroom rang. CO
answered. OPS had taken the bridge watch so the JOs could all come down and
watch the game. He was calling to tell the CO that one of the guys working
out on the fantail spotted a white flare off in the distance. While we were
getting that sorted out, and correlated to something Sector knew was going
on, Sector got a report of a demasted sailing vessel about 120 miles away.
Thankfully there was another unit closer that was able to respond, and we
were finally able to stop turning around, and reacquire the satellite
signal.  

Occasionally during the game, we'd hear shouts of triumph and groans of
defeat from the messdeck. EO is a Denver fan, while I don't like Peyton
Manning...and we live in North Carolina anyway! We *should* be rooting for
the Panthers! By Half Time, EO was pretty smug. 

It's the start of the 4th quarter now. Not looking good for the Panthers.
We've got an early morning tomorrow, so I'll keep watching while I make my
rack. But then I'll probably turn it off so I can get some rest before what
will likely be a busy day. 

Oh, and the commercials sucked. The best one was the Doritos commercial in
the doctor's office with the baby in ultrasound. Then maybe the weiner dog
ketchup commercial or the singing sheep one. But the one with the marmot was
just plain creepy. Maybe they got better after I turned the game off. 

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Not Anything=Nuthin Worthwhile

I can't think of anything worthwhile to write about tonight. Ideas flit
through my head, and I can dredge up a pithy phrase or two, but nothing
sticks beyond that. 

The weather is pretty crappy, but we found a nice lee. It's colder than I'm
used to. I have to...gasp...turn off the a/c in my stateroom if I want to
work at my computer. I'm expecting to wake up at some point tonight and hear
the low vis sound signal blowing from the bridge. It's muffled by two decks,
but it's still enough to pull me from sleep to wonder what's going on. Or it
sinks into my dreams as the horn on an 18 wheeler, or the vibration of a
garage door opening.

We have special plans for watching the game tomorrow evening. I'm very
grateful for the satellite tv connection -- it takes a good bit of the sting
out from being underway for the game. 

I need to do laundry tomorrow. Need more socks. I like to wait until Monday
when it's Chiefs' and Officers' scheduled day, but Sundays are open game.
I'm telling myself I'll get up early to get it done with before too much
more of the crew wakes up, but the likelihood is high that, given the chance
if operations are slow, I will be somewhat sluggish in the morning. Socks,
shmocks...I have a couple ratty pair in the back of my drawer for when I get
super low.

Oof, it's OER season for the LTJGs. I'm about 80% done with one, haven't
started on the 2nd, and the third is due to me in 4 days. The JGs are doing
a great job, so the evals are pretty easy to write...if I had the discipline
to sit down and do it. I got a couple of lines written after dinner this
evening, and felt like I nearly accomplished something. 

Yup, nuthin worthwhile to write about tonight...

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Crew Trivia

We've had a good run of Tuesday Trivia Night this patrol. Except this week.
This week Tuesday Trivia Night was on Wednesday because we were busy with
boat ops on Tuesday. FS1 DP is a wonderful host, coming up with diverse
categories and tough questions.

EO Loves Pickles and Sauerkraut!!!! and XO Loves Asparagus!!!!!! destroyed
the first two rounds. We may have had a slight advantage because our team
consisted of CO, EO, OPS and me. However, we went down in flames last night
with a team name of EO's Haircut (it's a long story about hair cut
appointments made a week ago, cutting the line, and missing Evening
Reports...). We ended up in second to last place -- especially shameful
because we only got 5 of 10 state capitols correct. We did however get 8 of
10 in the Food/Drink category, and I protested the stupid question about
"What mixture is tempura dipped in?" when "panko" was the wrong answer, and
"batter" was the correct one.

However, I have an idea for a new category of questions: Crew Trivia, made
up of interesting tidbits about crewmembers onboard. For example:
-- Who was the lead singer in a Scream-o band (like an "Emo" band, but with
a throat destroying screamer as a "singer")? Answer: SN NC
-- Who got a tattoo of DILIGENCE's name on their uh...cheek? Answer: PO AP
-- Which DDG did CO serve on as Navigator? Answer: USS HOPPER (DDG 70)
-- Whose father spent time as an NFL team coach? Answer: SN RS
-- Where did SN EW get his first name "E"? Answer: it's the shortened
version of a family name, and yes, it is just the letter "E"
-- Who worked at a mortuary before joining the CG? PO JM
-- Who was on a CG vessel that grounded? Answer: OPS (sorry, no way to
maintain decent anonymity with that -- and it wasn't his fault. The river
shoaled.)
-- Where did FN WD go to college? Answer: The Citadel

I think there's plenty of good material for lots of questions in our crew
alone.

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Underway OOD Board

We had our first underway OOD qualification board for our first year Ensigns
this afternoon. ENS LR (aka, ANAV = Assistant Navigator) did a fabulous job.
Though not necessary, she quoted COLREGs ("Rules of the Road" for making
sure ships don't collide out at sea) nearly verbatim. She rattled off all
six movements of a ship. She laid down a mo-board (maneuvering board = a
plot of vectors to show how ships are moving in relation to each other)
while we peppered her with watch situations and questions. 

Qual boards are a rite of passage in the Coast Guard. Experienced
watchstanders grill the boardee with questions with a couple of purposes in
mind: first, to test the bounds of the boardee's knowledge. The standard
line is that the qualification earned is the minimum knowledge required to
safely stand the watch. Newly qualified individuals are exhorted to keep
learning their craft and increase their proficiency in all aspects of the
details. They start with the basics, and gain the nuances through hours upon
days upon weeks upon months upon years of experience of actually standing
the watch. 

Second, qual boards test the boardee's judgment. One of my favorite
questions is "would you rather be the give way or the stand on vessel? And
why?" I know what my answer is, and by the way the boardee answers, I gain
insights into how they think about driving the ship, maneuvering with other
vessels, and making decisions. I find out how they perceive the stated
priorities. 

Third, qual boards create stress in the boardee in a safe environment.
Boards are stressful, there's no doubt about it. You're sitting in front of
four to six people that have, collectively for ANAV today, nearly 32 (!!)
years of sea time, that know their shit, have seen and survived scenarios
you could never even dream of, are asking you difficult, technical and
nuanced questions and are listening closely to your questions, judging
everything you say. But it's safe. You can say stupid stuff in a board, and
not steam the ship into a hazardous situation. Unlike on the bridge on watch
where if, in a stressful situation, you say something stupid, you could run
the ship aground, hit another vessel or put your shipmates' lives at risk.
Some people freeze, some people babble, some people mumble, and some people
fake it. But stress is inevitable on watch. How the boardee deals with it is
something incredibly important for the CO to know.

If you're sitting for a board, you've already completed the Personnel
Qualification Standard (PQS, pronounced pee-que-ess) package, stood numerous
and varied watches, had a pre-board where the second year junior officers
put on a mock/trial board to give some sense of what a real board will be
like, and stood part of a busy watch with OPS so he can evaluate your actual
performance on watch. Do folks sometimes choke at the real board even after
all that? Sure. It happens. But they go back, stand a few more watches
maybe, study a bunch more, make more reports to the CO, whatever it is they
need to work on before going back in front of the board. Everyone sleeps
better at night when they're confident in the watchstanders' ability.

This qualification is a **huge** one for JOs. It is typically their first
major qual they earn after commissioning. For officers that pursue an afloat
career, it is the first of hopefully many OOD quals, one for each ship on
which they sail. I still have my first qual letter. And my second. And my
third. And my fourth. (I didn't give myself a qual letter on the two ships I
was CO on :)) While each one is only a piece of paper, they represent
success at a major effort to learn a new language, master technical and
unique skills, and understand the ship as a sum greater than its component
parts. 

CO read a brief snippet from The Caine Mutiny soon after he congratulated
ANAV on earning her qualification this afternoon: 

"On this day Willie took a mighty leap upward in life. He stood the
noon-to-four watch as officer of the deck. Keefer was present to correct any
disastrous mistake, and Captain Quegg himself perched in his chair
throughout the watch, alternately dozing or blinking placidly in the
sunshine. Willie conducted a faultless watch. It was a simple matter of
staying on station in the screen while the convoy zigzagged. Whatever his
inner shakiness, he kept a bold front, and maneuvered the ship firmly. When
the watch was over he penciled in the log:
 12 to 4--Steaming as before.
   Willis Seward Keith
   Ensign, USNR
He had signed many logs for port watches, but this was different. He put an
extra flourish to his signature, and thrilled as though he were entering his
name in a historic document." (p 239-240, The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk,
Little, Brown and Company paperback version)

"Whatever his inner shakiness, he kept a bold front, and maneuvered the ship
firmly." Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. And that confidence earned today
with her first qual will be solidified and burnished through the crucible of
watches yet to come. 

Congrats, ANAV!

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Where Did My Day Go?

Last time I really knew what time it was today was around lunch. After that,
I have no idea what happened to the day.

Well, that's not entirely true. I can list where my time went -- I stood
some watch on the bridge while there was training for most everyone else on
the messdeck; I lost a couple hours after that at my computer until dinner;
I ate dinner (beef goulash was delicious); and then lost a couple more hours
at my computer, the nightly OPS brief, and waaay too much time at Evening
Reports that morphed into an Awards Board meeting. And now, all of a sudden,
it's 8:30 pm, and I'm just getting the POD for tomorrow published. 

I don't think I got done what I meant to do today. I meant to work on LTJG
Department Head OERs. What I actually did was send emails and plan the
Evening Reports/Awards Board meeting. Which I suppose is useful and
productive in its own way. But those dang OERs aren't going to write
themselves. I know, I know, I still have nine days until they're due to the
CO, but I'm easily distracted. Before I know it, those nine days will have
shrunk to three and I'll be in a panic. Maybe not a panic, but I'll be a lot
more stressed about finishing them up. 

Ramble, ramble, ramble, ramble.

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Derelict Dinghy and Other Sunday SAR Adventures

We piped boat lowering detail for the CB-OTH (Cutter Boat-Over the Horizon) 
this morning at 0800, right on time per the POD, for an early Sunday personnel 
transfer from shore. As the boat deck was getting ready, a lookout spotted a 
white cap that wasn't crumbling away like the others after a few moments. 
Breaking out the binoculars, I saw it was a small white dinghy bobbing along 
in the waves.

A small white dinghy floating along with no one in it doesn't sound like such 
a serious thing, but to us in the Coast Guard, we tend to think that maybe 
there was someone supposed to be on that dinghy that is now in the water with 
no one the wiser. A report like that starts the whole SAR (search and rescue) 
machine a-churnin'.

We got the OTH in the water, and the coxswain and crew went over to 
investigate. The dinghy only had one oar, some Coke bottles floating in the 
few inches of water onboard, and a good bit of algal growth poxed all over. 
The crew read off the HIN (hull identification number, like the VIN on a car), 
and we passed the information to our local Sector. And then the OTH went on 
their merry way to make the personnel transfer happen. DILIGENCE stayed on 
scene with the dinghy.

After a few moments, we heard "PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN..." (pronounced 
pahn-pahn) over the radio, with Sector passing all the details on VHF-FM 16 
about the vessel's description (6 foot, white dinghy) and location (so many 
miles off mumble mumble mumble), requesting assistance from any mariners in 
the area. We stayed on scene with the dinghy, while we waited for our small 
boat to get back with our passengers. In the meantime, we saw a Coast Guard 
Auxiliary flight overhead, conducting a VS (victor sierra, sector search with 
a single unit) search looking for anyone that might have fallen overboard from 
the dinghy.

Sector used the HIN we gave them to figure out who the owner of the dinghy 
was. They called and made sure he was ok -- he was. Then we towed the dinghy 
back to the local Station with our CB-L (Cutter Boat-Large). Or really, the 
cox'n and crew of the CB-L tipped all the water out of the dinghy, and then 
hauled it onboard the CB-L, strapped it down to the deck and went on their 
merry way. Maybe not standard, but took a heck of a lot less time than towing 
the thing.

On the way back from returning the dinghy to shore, the CB-L was diverted to 
go search for a vessel whose EPIRB (electronic positioning indicating radio 
beacon) went off. They looked around in the position given off by the EPIRB, 
but didn't see anything -- no debris field, no foundering vessel. Sector used 
the registration information on the EPRIB to contact the vessel's owner to 
make sure they weren't in distress.

The Coast Guard takes safety of life at sea (SOLAS) stuff seriously. Please, 
folks, make sure you have your safety gear, it's in good working, and you know 
how to use it when you go boating. Make sure your EPIRB is properly 
registered. File a float plan. Not all cases turn out as easily and happily as 
our couple of SAR cases this morning.

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