Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ship Happens!

It has been a very interesting two weeks since last I posted; from a hotel room in sunny-but-cool Norfolk to an oiler in the sunny-and-hot waters between Oman and Iran this has been quite a transition! As noted on my Blog, I got a phone call on the afternoon of the 14th that my assignment plan had been radically changed and that instead of a prolonged period of refresher training in New Jersey I was penciled-in to fly out of Dulles for Bahrain on Friday the 16th to join a new ship. There followed a day and a half of semi-frantic preparation; re-packing my seabag for warmer climes, arranging to check out of my room and drop off my car at long-term parking, and shopping for necessary items for a Long Sea Voyage.

Flew out as scheduled and had a very relaxing trip; I enjoyed a biopic about Admiral Yamamoto and then slept all the way across the Atlantic and most of Europe!--I guess all that running around on Thursday had me a little tuckered-out! Landed in Manama late on Saturday afternoon, checked thru customs and caught a ride to the port in the midst of a howling sandstorm.

And that was how I first saw my new ship; USNS Joshua Humphreys was a slightly darker silhouette in the driving yellow sand and dust, with the sun setting beyond her she looked almost unearthly with halos of dazzling yellow refracted by the particles blowing past her security lighting. I checked-in at the Gangway, greeted a few old Shipmates now serving in this ship, and carried my gear aboard.

From the beginning I had thought it interesting that I'd been assigned to Humphreys so abruptly, especially since my experience with MSC has been entirely in a different type of ship, the larger, faster AOEs, which deal with ammunition and combat ordnance far more than the fuel-providing oilers. When I met the Chief Mate and Captain the next morning I learned that my selection for this posting had been far from arbitrary, however. It seems that Humphreys has had the bad luck to lose no fewer than two of her Unrep Helmsmen in recent weeks, one of whom resigned and the other suffered an accident that required he return to the States for medical attention. Thus, Humphreys's Master and the detailers back in Norfolk were faced with a conundrum in that in order for the ship to perform her duties she needs at least three (and preferably more) personnel with this critical qualification on the watchbill. Given the currency of my quals and record aboard Arctic I was a natural for one of these vacant billets--and with a series of Unreps scheduled for the following week it was essential that I get over here fast!

And so here I am, "subject to requirements of the Service" as my Royal Navy friends would say! I'll be posting soon about life and work aboard my new ship, but I wanted to get a few photos out to represent my first two weeks aboard her...I think that one certainty is that I am unlikely to be bored here!

USN SH-60B Helos of the Golden Falcons Vertrep USS Abraham Lincoln from USNS Charles Drew

Dhow in the Persian Gulf

HMS Daring in the Persian Gulf

Iranian speedboats work hard to keep us on our toes!

USS Cape St George alongside USNS Drew

No comments:

Post a Comment