Deployment Chronicles–> Acticle 16 “Bahrain #3”

The day after we stayed at the hotel, we slept in and woke up for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Then we stationed ourselves back in the pool with good morning beers. They were delicious. We did this pretty much for the rest of the day until we had to check out, which was around 1700. It was pretty funny because we kept ordering drinks from the bar and there was really nobody else outside but the bartenders kept taking longer and longer to bring us our drinks and they kept getting smaller and smaller. This made us laugh A LOT.

Unfortunately Ramadan was scheduled to start the next day which was the first, but the good news is that we were leaving the next day so it wouldn’t really affect us. What is Ramadan you are asking? This is the direct definition from Wikipedia, I know I’m not being very original but I don’t have time for original right now:

“Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual intercourse among spouses is allowed after one has ended the daily fast. During fasting, intercourse is prohibited as well as eating and drinking, and resistance of all temptations is encouraged. Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm.”

After we got out of the pool showered and checked out of our rooms, we took a taxi to the main SOUQ to pick up all the suits they had made, which were fabulous, and I picked up the blazer that I had designed and measured to fit me. I love it!!! Its made of black cashmere wool and it has 3 quarter length sleeves and when you roll it up there’s a different material inside completely so I can leave it down or have different colored cuffs. I can’t wait to wear it out! We shopped around for a bit then went to the carpet place so we could get a last-minute look at the carpets and say one last goodbye to Abdul the carpet guy. Then we went across the street for some home style Middle East cuisine. It was pretty inexpensive (or at least I seemed to always think this since everything was in BD but you have to times 2.75 to that total for US dollars) and we just ordered like 10 different things on the menu and had quite the feast. It was delicious. Afterwards we headed back to the ship.

This is the moment when I was informed of some bad news. As I walked across the brow onto the ship, 3 chiefs were waiting on the quarterdeck and they all started talking at once. “Mam have you gotten the word? Mam do you know what has happened? Mam?” Of course I didn’t. The only people who have cellphones on them when traveling abroad are the CO, the XO, and the master chief. I kind of like that, because no one can get a hold of me in case there is an emergency, like this (I’m just being honest).

They told me there was a major issue with one very important piece of equipment that I as the ASWO, owned. The alarms sounded around 1600 and when I arrived back it was 2300. The captain has been recalled to the ship, as soon as they had found out and I was told to go and talk with my guys and find senior chief immediately. Of course I was on the move at once. I ran down and found senior and immediately asked what the problem was. He told me the situation and things were not good. We both went to the equipment in question and did a twice over. A bad sign is all I can say. The greatest thing was that my senior chief was on duty that day so he was there to put protective measures in place. This was very good news because I’m not sure anyone else would have known what to do. I went to bed with a sinking feeling that night because there was an incident at the beginning of deployment and it seemed very related to what had happened this afternoon. My job is SOO stressfull!

The next morning we were all in overdrive. After we confirmed the worst, I had to attend numerous meetings with  personnel and a teleconference with Norfolk technicians. They flew four technicians to Bahrain the very next day and one of them has become a personal acquaintance that always repairs my equipment in Norfolk named Dwayne. The days were long for my guys who now had to undertake a 24 hour-long watch in a room that was about 90 degrees because the air conditioning vent had broken. We worked out a bunch of things, such as how they would conduct repairs and then the wait began.

We already knew that we were going to be delayed in Bahrain until after the investigation and till the casualty was fixed which ended up being about 16 extra days. The only thing to do was toughen up and get through it. I spent a lot of my time determining how to get parts and the repair path ahead. At this time we were completely restricted to base because of Ramadan, and the only place to hang out was the Bahrain officer’s club. The one in Bahrain is quite boring actually. Then again, I guess I can’t be too picky since there was beer and I wasn’t underway and standing watch.

Our days started early but they ended early, a thing called tropical hours which they practice on the ships in pearl harbor. This leaves more time in the evening for hanging out, plus we were battling 112 degree heat, so starting early helped curb the suffering, sweltering, weather… slightly. I was up at 0430 and it was go go go until finally I couldn’t do much else. When I would leave the ship my first stop every day was to the base pool. It was an outdoor lap pool that had the best invention ever. Music… Under the water! As you swim laps you can hear music under the water. I was loving it. There was a group of people from the ship who would head over to work out every afternoon and soon the competitions began and we swam races against each other every day. It was actually very fun!

Afterwards I would walk over to the base building which had everything of importance to us inside. They had a Nex, which is a grocery store and deli, the enlisted club, chiefs club, officer’s club, and food court. I would go to the smoothie guy and get a fresh smoothie made with strawberries, pineapple, and mango, and then it was off to the NEX to stock up on whatever the fancy of the day was. Afterwards I would get a light dinner and head on over to the officer’s club where drinking usually ensued. This is also the land of Shwarma’s! Shwarma’s are these mini pitas that have gyro meat in them with french fries and cheese and lettuce. Everyone here loves them and there is an outdoor vendor that you can buy them from. They are amazing! This was pretty much the routine except for the days that I had duty. I tried very hard to have good face time and internet but unfortunately high-speed internet isn’t really high-speed unless you’re in the U.S.

On the second day restricted to base, I took the diamonds I bought in Hafia, printed out a picture of the setting I wanted and took it to the NEX jeweler. They were happy to set them for me and for a very reasonable price. When I went back 3 days later and saw them I was stunned by their brilliance. I actually have diamond earrings.

But I guess this is all I have to write for now. Stay tuned for the next installment.

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