The first long underway at my new command has come and gone but the 6-month deployment looms on the horizon.
It has been an interesting experience being back on sea duty after being gone for 3 years and so much has changed, especially the security requirements after September 11. It doesn't really affect us at sea but inport it is both a blessing and a curse. The major watches on the boat are all armed and ready to go at the pull of a trigger, and after my pathetic passing of the gun shoot last month I hope I am never on watch when the insurgent horde decides to take the pier. The downside to all these loaded weapons is the extra set of rules and procedures that the Navy places on even the simplest of tasks, like turning over the weapon to your relief. Oh well, a bit of inconvenience for the chance to blow someone’s head off in the drop of a dime is worth the trade off.
The underway was plagued with material problems which made life even worse than the normal situation of being locked up in a submarine. Compound these problems with crew morale and attitude and it became a freak sideshow.
Know anyone that stinks like a foot? Try living in close proximity of a handful of guys like that. Guys that work in dirty places and then don't bother changing their clothes for a week or showering. I saw a guy finally get in the shower, rumor has it his division ordered him to do so, and after he got out, still smelling like a stink ass, he put the same stinky clothes back on. The T-Shirt he was wearing had turned black; it was white a week earlier. There are many stories like this from just a 30-day underway- I can't even imagine what it will be like when we are away for 2 months. I was denied a shower a few times because the Officer of the Deck thought it would be a good time to blow shitters at turnover. Nothing pisses me off more to get woken up for watch then get to the head only to find that the showers and sinks are secured for this evolution. One third of the crew will stink longer now because the OOD can't plan something as simple as blowing san tanks.
Like I said before there have been many changes since I was at sea last. We have a huge screen monitor in my space that allows us to see what the periscope operator sees. Besides the wonders of the ocean that I am privy to listening to on a daily basis, I am now able to see what goes on above the water even in the middle of nowhere. We came up to periscope depth (at an undisclosed location between CA and HI) and I saw a couple of sea gulls following the scope. One of them even tried to land on it. We were hundreds of miles from any type of land but these two gulls were in the exact same spot of ocean as we were.
Speaking of animals and CA, before we reached San Diego I was required to read then train my section on the Marine Mammal and Endangered Species message we received prior to reaching our destination. I was so pissed after reading it but in short it was obviously drafted and forced upon the Navy by the CA tree hugging liberals to "protect" whales, dolphins, and turtles from the mean old Navy ships. Because whales and dolphins have beached themselves along CA coasts en masse the only possible explanation was that the active sonar from the Navy caused it. Yeah, whatever assholes. Besides logging all of our active transmissions we were actually supposed to perform turn away maneuvers from the whales to prevent us from hitting them, like we can actually "see" them while we are submerged. Jackasses.
The head (bathroom) in lower level overflowed with shit from the sanitary tank because the level indicator for the tank was off by about 500 gallons. The shit came up from the deck drains and fumigated the whole forward compartment. I was in crew’s mess at the time and the Chief of the Boat came in and wanted to know what the fuck was for chow. The Executive Officer came in shortly after and looked to see what was in the soup pot. That is pretty bad when the smell of shit is confused for the food the cooks are preparing.
That is about all for now, although I have plenty of new material for the blog for about 3 months. Here are a couple of shots from the underway.
The Control Room:
"I got your back."