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**

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