[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
In the back of the bridge is a stack of cardboard boxes. This morning the captain materialized in the middle of ENS Dan Schrader’s OOD (Officer of the Deck) training watch to toss one of the boxes over the side for a simulated man overboard drill. We go through it twice. The first time the captain coaches Dan — “What do you do first? What’re you going to do next? Okay, what now?” and instructs him in rudder and speed settings. We’re running on one screw, which complicates our turn to starboard to recover our man overboard, and information is coming loud and fast from the conn, the helmsman, the bosun’s mate at navigation, Chief Wes Guilmartin (the qualified OOD under whom Dan stands his watch), course, speed, wind direction, the minutes our man has been in the water.
The first run through Dan is a little hesitant, looking at the captain for instruction, which is freely given with neither criticism nor condescension and which is accepted in the same spirit. The second time he is more confident (especially when he employs the captain’s teakometer, lining up our man overboard with the line of teak railing on the port wing of the bridge) and our simulated man overboard is so close to our portside that if I had longer arms I could have reached out and snagged him myself.
The captain says that’s about as perfect as it needs to be, and departs the bridge. ENS Schrader, nine years enlisted and a recent graduate of OCS, is a serious young man but I believe I see a hint of a smile on his face when he says afterward, “Interesting times.”
Steel beach was piped before noon for the fantail and the hangar deck. Lawn chairs and bermuda shorts boil up from crew quarters, as do fishing poles and tackle boxes. PO Joshua Hendl caught the first fish of the patrol, a mahimahi, a beautiful irridescent green blue creature. Also imminently edible.
Later Captain Lloyd caught a much smaller one.
Lest you think it’s all (steel) beach and (very) deep sea fishing, let me point out that we are at present steaming south toward our duty station, a matter of many hundreds of miles. When we get there, holiday routine will become much more rare.
And don’t forget, the Coast Guard is 911 for any area they are in.
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