Friday, June 12, 2015

Under Command

Every ship is different.  Even vessels of a familiar class or type may reveal surprising dissimilarities when viewed up-close by the discerning observer.  I’ve had this fact confirmed again and again during my career afloat; each new tanker, ammo carrier or refrigerated cargo ship is a new experience for me—often a learning experience as I find myself adapting to equipment and techniques I’d never had to master before.
But the physical differences between ships are the lesser challenge of reporting to a new command.  Of far greater importance to me as a seaman approaches a new assignment is the matrix of people and personalities he or she will find aboard, and the place the individual will find within that mix.  In essence, transferring from one seaborne command to another is like beginning a new job—but Mariners go through this experience many, many times during a career.
As will I--in just a few days.  I’ve received new orders, suddenly shifting me from tanker John Lenthall to the refrigerated cargo vessel Medgar Evers.  I’ll be flying out of Athens this weekend en route my new ship to relieve a fellow Operations Chief aboard that ship. 
I’m experiencing mixed feelings about this transfer; for the past few months Lenthall has been my home, and the ninety souls within her my family.  I’ve formed bonds of friendship with some of these people, and hardly know the names of others; still they are Shipmates, figuratively and literally in the same boat.  I’ve come to admire Captain Lytle, and enjoyed working and relaxing with the ship’s officers and chiefs; I’d planned to stay with the ship for considerably longer.  But now I must leave them all for an uncertain future.
And there is anticipation, excitement as well.  I find myself wondering about a new Captain, a new crew and how I will fit within that company.  Even as I bid a fond farewell to the good ship Lenthall and the fine men and women who sail her, I can’t help looking away; a new ship, new crew, new horizons await.
I must heed their call.
Today’s Photo: USNS Robert E. Peary (on the right), commences resupply of the Amphibious carrier USS Makin Island by helicopter-borne Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP).

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