Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Am I Doing In New Jersey?*

Why, transferring cargo, of course!  Medgar Evers arrived yesterday and is now moored on this (ridiculously) long pier at Naval Weapons Station Earle, New Jersey.

Only a few hundred yards from Sandy Hook, the gateway to New York City and the Hudson, this facility must be one of the best-kept non-secrets on the Jersey Shore--when the Weapons Station was built during WWII this was a lightly populated area of the Garden State, but today this arsenal is closely surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people.  In fact, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are said to live within a few miles of this pier!

Parenthetically, I've always wondered why we never see protests outside the gates.  Surely someone is unhappy about the idea of living next-door to "bomb central"!

I've actually spent quite a lot of time in this area since I joined MSC; I underwent my new-hire Indoctrination and Basic Safety Training at a training center near the base, and then was assigned to USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), which at the time was home-ported here.  Between 2005 and 2012, whenever Arctic wasn't deployed overseas, this pier was my home-away-from-home.

Working here was fun in the summertime and hell in the winter;  The sea breeze always kept the summer heat within tolerances and the sixty-knot winds out of the north-west would drive the temperatures well below zero between November and February!  I've spent some of the coldest days and nights of my life here, toting a shotgun and trying to keep my footing as the decks ice over.

As you might guess, I'm pretty familiar with the area.  I have a favorite coffee shop right outside the gate, know where the Barnes and Noble is in Holmdel, and can find my way handily around Red Bank and Eatontown.  I'll be going out sometime during the weekend to visit a few old haunts, and perhaps I'll try to get together with the local amateur astronomers, too.

* This is of course the title of a classic album of stand-up by the late (and great) comic George Carlin.  We miss you, George!

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