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


Bardiac said...

Hi! I'm a friend of your sister's, who mentioned your blog, and now I'm reading it. And I'm wondering, what does it mean to say the cell phone tower is open? (I've really enjoyed your blog!)

Just a Girl said...

Hi Bardiac! V mentioned she sent you the link. Thanks for reading :) "The cell phone tower is now open for all hands not currently on watch" is a pipe (public address announcement made of the 1MC) that lets people know they are allowed to use their phones. We normally are all required to keep them turned off while we're underway, for "emissions control" = EMCON reasons. We don't want to give bad guys a means by which to track us.

Hope that answers your question!

Bardiac said...

So, basically, it's just a way of saying people have permission to use cell phones, and not turning on anything at all?

Thanks! That makes sense!