Search My Blog

July 30, 2005

Overdue Pictures

So I am extremely tardy in showing off the deployment so far, and I apologize, but I was trying to find a way to resize these shots to conserve bandwidth. oh well. Guess I"ll have something to do when I get back to Pearl.

Brisbane at a cargo loading/unloading pier.

Brisbane at a grain pier. There were seeds everywhere!

Our friendly neighborhood Greenpeace.

Notice anything unusual about this shot? Where else but on a submarine would you have to worry about this happening to your Koolaid?

July 28, 2005

The long arm of Guam

Well, after a short 24 hours underway we are back in port for a while. I guess Guam just doesn't want us to leave. Our last visit was pretty good but people are starting to just hang out on base more and use the facilities here.

I guess the strip clubs start wearing pretty thin after a while; I know I can only stand "Buy me drinkie" for so long. I spent about 6 hours in one the day after we got here last week but that was only to get there early because the Nimitz battlegroup was pulling in and there was going to be an extra 5000 people running around. About 9:00 pm that night it was standing room only everywhere downtown-restaurants, 7-11 stores, clubs, etc. What a freakin sausage fest. I remember looking at the floor on the stage at the strip club we were in and it was covered with one dollar bills. A lot of the strippers flew in for the weekend just for the carrier group- they expected to clear $2-3k in that short amount of time. I was the equivalent of the shore patrol last port visit. We call it "Courtesy Patrol" so that we don't have to be so formal when we are out. We basically just walk around the strip and go into he clubs to make sure our guys aren't getting into trouble. It is a tough job to sit in the strip clubs all night but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make. AAMOF, I have duty tomorrow night- bummer!

This second time in Guam we weren't moored next to the tender. That makes it so much nicer to leave the boat. I hate dealing with all that skimmer protocol and having to walk an extra 80 miles just to reach the shore. We are moored across the harbor from it now next to the San Francisco. Every time I see one of those guys I think I am seeing a ghost. They really are lucky to be alive.

The E-7 results are not out yet but word on the street is that it will be tomorrow sometime; I'll believe it when I read it for myself. Everyone is on pins and needles. It sure would be nice to put it on but I won't cry about it if I don't. I sort of wish I was at sea when they came out because there is only so much they can do to me. In port I'll have to get up early and run/exercise in this humid stinking weather. Of course, on a sub there is no room to hide.

We are about 1/3 of the way done with this deployment and I can't believe how fast the time is going but on the other hand it does seem to be dragging. Not really sure how that can happen but other people are in agreement with me on it. Our schedule has changed so many times and there is some uncertainty in our future but hopefully our time in port when Jacqui is supposed to fly out will be secured. People are jokingly calling this deployment Guam Pac 2005 and I think we will even get some t-shirts made. I, for one, am not amused. I think I will go on a dive this weekend though, the one thing Guam does have going for it. The water is absolutely gorgeous and the visibility is the best I've seen.

That's about it for now. I am still trying to figure out how to get my pics up here. They are really big and I don't have a program to reduce the size. I guess I just feel guilty about taking up all that server space when I don't have to. Later!

July 12, 2005

First Duty Day in Guam

I take the duty section topside to do a little firefighting training with some hoses that are connected to a Y fitting from the tender. It is a pretty good size hose, about 2" in diameter, and shits through about 200 gallons a minute.

I tell a guy to flake out the hose for use, it was coiled up topside, and then a booming sound scares the shit out of everyone. The hose had popped off the Y fitting and was dancing around like a possessed cobra topside. It slide about 20 feet across the deck before wrapping up on itself and a smaller hose that was hanging off the side.

A guy stepped off the side of the boat the went down to grab the Y fitting while there was a lull in the action. Common sense would have said "Screw it, let it be and secure water to the connection" but I guess instinct took over. In all fairness, you can walk over the side of a round submarine before actually falling over. I didn't want this guy to fall in or get hurt if the fitting came loose off the other hose so I instinctively grabbed his arm which slid down to his hand because we were all wet from the initial spray. This guy lost his balance and got a death grip on my hand so we fell off into the water together. That scene from Backdraft comes to mind where the guy is dangling 40 feet inside a burning building and the guy holding him said, "You go, I go."

I felt someone grab my hand but it slipped out. The spray was secured before we fell over and he was pulled up by the hose that was already over the side. I waited my turn as people were yelling "Get the Jacobs ladder", "The Duty Chief fell over board", and dreadfully heard over our announcement circuit, "Men overboard port side!"

I grabbed onto the hose for support as I rubbed against the algae that had already started growing on the side of the boat in the 88 degree water. People topside started to pull me up and my knee must have opened the fitting. I was lifted out of the water as the hose came to life and as the end of it ran up the front of my body I let go of it and pushed it away but not before getting sprayed in the face with the full force of the blast. I turned my head away and dove under the water but I couldn't get very far in coveralls and the boots I was wearing.

By this time someone had run up onto the tender and secured the water to the connection. People were yelling and I managed to see the boat hook dangling in front of my face. I grabbed onto it and was pulled up. Topside was littered with people and the COB pushed his way through to me. I told him I was alright but I still couldn't see and I was out of breath and spitting up salt water that was forced down my throat. Someone on the tender asked if we needed medical assistance but I said I was ok.

After I got my eyesight back I noticed I was still seeing flashes of light which I thought were from getting smacked in the eyes with water. Nope, someone was taking pictures of the event. Didn't bother throwing a lifering or anything, but brought his camera up. Admittedly, I probably would have done the same thing. Speaking of which, I had just taken my camera and cell phone out of my pockets about an hour prior to this happening.

My hat went over board too and was floating about 20 feet from the boat but when I got below and was stripping down in the lower level head someone brought my hat that had been fished out. Unfortunately, the keys to the duty van were not in my pocket when I emptied everything out. Hertz will be getting a call in the morning....

Other than that, it was a pretty good first duty day as the Duty Chief. And before I get the flood of emails, Duty Chief is just a watch that a First Class is allowed to stand if given the OK by the C.O. E-7 results should be out in a few more weeks though.

July 10, 2005

Enroute to Guam

After we left Australia we stayed for a while to play around with some Australian combatants and a few other submarines in a joint exercise. It was fun for about a week then it got old fast.

We had a crossing the line (Shellback) ceremony on the way up to Guam as we crossed the equator. We did this event for 6 midshipmen who rode us from Australia to see how submarine life is. It is a big P.R. stunt the Navy uses to lure unsuspecting officer-wannabe's to the submarine force.

Now, the trip down to Australia was especially fun because we had a crossing the line ceremony but we did it at a specific place on the equator. We crossed the equator at the exact point where the Internationnal Dateline (IDL) crosses the Equator. This is called a Golden Shellback because when you cross the IDL you get a certificate called the Golden Dragon. It is a time honored Naval tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Existing Shellback play roles during the ceremony: King Neptune, Davy Jones, and assorted members of his Royal Court. There is a format involved in turning the non-shellback (Wogs) into full fledged shhellbacks. I played the part of Davy Jones, Neptunus Rex's secretary, and had a blast. Photos are on the way.

Do a search for a shellback ceremony to get an idea of what goes on. Of course on a submarine, away from prying eyes, we can step it up a notch.

Guam. Why bother?

We arrived at the Pacific Island of Guam, Where America's Day Begins, on Satruday and I think I can speak for the entire crew when I say it is already time to go. In all fairness, however, I have been here no less than 20 times and it got old the very first time I got here. I think the biggest factor in creating my dilike for this place is the weather- 90+ tempertures with about 99% humidity- humidity so bad that it takes your breath away when you walk outside.

This is a working port and we hit the ground running today. Just about every division has a month's worth of work that has to get done in an extremely short amount of time. If we get it all done I'll be suprised.

The nightlife is really good if you like strip joints (raises hand) and the ones here are some of the best I've seen, err, heard of. One of the local favorites is the Viking Club so named because of its theme inside and the huge helm that sticks halfway out of the stage at the back. When the wheel spins, watch out. It is customary for a "Friend" to give the stripper a $20 bill and set up someone for the ass beating of a lifetime. The unsuspecting (sometimes) shmuck is brought on stage and made to place his hands on the wheel. The "dancer" proceeds to take down the pants and rip off the underwear. As this is happening, the audience is throwing belts onto the stage. The stripper then grabs one and proceeds to beat the ass cheeks of the poor shmuck until the cheeks looks like road kill. Fun for us, not so fun for the victim. And that's it- the guy walks off stage and can't sit for a week. Yay Guam!

I have eaten at The Outback and TGI Fridays and went to a Dave and Busters knock off for some video games and a few beers. And that is it so far. I have duty only once in this port because I am on the Duty Chief watchbill- more responsibilkity but less days of it.

The are several other boats in now and we were not able to get barracks roooms so we were hooked up with a berthing barge. Our boat shares it with onother and we have half of the bunks. There is a lounge and separate bathrooms so that we only have to walk on the pubes of guys from our own boats.

Before this gets too long I'll end it now because I wanted to talk about some things we did on the way down here. Hafa Adai! (Guamanian for "Good Day")

* Late Entry

It occured to me as I have spent the last 3 days packing up everything for upcoming 6 month deployment that the world will go on here. People will be oblivious to my abscence except my wife and son, of course. But for the most part things will go on like they have been but there will be so many changes when I get back.

I remember past deployments would bring me back to a new parking lot where a club used to be, a new park, or new restaurants. It about the only good thing that a deployment brings upon return to homeport excluding the family homecoming.

I think that this will probably be the hardest deployment of my career and hopefully my last. 20 years in the Navy is plenty for me despite whether I make Chief this time around or not. I think it is time to move on and get a taste of a new life and a new job.

So, aloha and check back every so often because we are supposed to hit some really good ports pending any unforeseeable circumstances. That's Navy-speak for "Our schedule is written in crayon on a piece of toilet paper and can change at any minute".