[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
The night I had my tac epiphany I also ran into MK1 Dan Thorpe, our FOWK (Fuel Oil and Water King, still my favorite underway job title) and MK3 Barry Lawson doing one of their daily soundings. We were shifting fuel between tanks in anticipation of refueling, and Dan and his crew were taking soundings to back up what the gauges say down in main control. “We have to be sure,” Dan says.
I caught ET3 Javed Mohammed on the bridge, finally without anything like sound powered phones in the way of that terrific smile. He’s got one of the cooler ethnic backgrounds on board. His parents came from Trinidad. Six generations back, their family came from “Iraq, Iran, around there,” he says. Tigris and Euphrates River Valley, real cradle of humanity stuff. He’s a class or two away from his Associates Degree, is already getting ready for his bachelor’s, and after that is going to apply for OCS. “I like what I’m doing,” he says, “but I think I’ll like what the officers do more.”
A pod of pilot whales hung off our beam for almost half an hour a couple of days back. They weren’t ten yards away and not at all afraid of us, doing their shallow dive- blowing spume thing, watching us watch them. If they’d been more obliging, they would all have surfaced at the same time when I clicked the camera shutter, but noooooooo.
Tonight our pizza was served up by the Weapons department with entertainment on the side, two country-and-western guitars played by GM3 Tim Schlehofer and GM3 Josh Duncan. We sang along. I’m pretty sure I also heard whooping.
At a recent BSF, BM2 Tony Molina contacted a restaurant he knew in town and had them deliver puparesas. These are little tortilla sandwiches with rice, beans, meat and cheese inside, served with a hot cabbage salsa and red tomato sauce. He shared, which was a mistake, because we sent him back for more. It’s not like the food is bad on board (quite the contrary, and more about that tomorrow), but it’s just nice once in a while to try something different.
See the blue tarps? On Munro, we don’t like our nice white hull smudged, so we contact the port in advance to cover the gigantic tires that serve as fenders on the dock.
Once we’re moored, on the mess deck, on the fantail, on the foredeck, all over the ship crew members were trying out their cell phones. On the pier, others were waiting for a shot at one of only two pay phones. Everybody wants to call home.
The local pilot boarded as we came into the port, and was met by ET3 Juan Velasquez, one of our Spanish-speaking crew members. Nice photo on the starboard bridge wing of the pilot, the conn’s coach, XO Steve Rothchild, the conn, ENS Jason Berger, and Juan. Juan is from Miami, his family by way of Columbia. He tells me his girlfriend reads the blog every day, so here you go, Marissa, your guy at work.
When we come into port, we raise the jackstaff in the bow and run up the colors. This day we flew them at half-staff in honor of the dead in the Virginia Tech shooting.
ENS Dan Schrader wanted me to let you know that two more weeks’ worth of photos will be up shortly. Go to Fred’s Place to view his photo essay of our patrol.
Click here to order a copy.