Deployment Chronicles–> Article 29 “ROME<3"

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Rome Rome Rome! Soo excited! Once we were peirside they promised maximized liberty and my liberty group booked 2 rooms at a five-star hotel called Sofitiel, which was right next to the Spanish Steps and the Fountana Di Trevi (Yes this is the fountain you throw a coin in for the first time you visit Rome, the second time for love, etc.) ROME is Gorgeous!!! We packed our stuff and got our ball room attire clothes ready for that evenings events and impatiently awaited for our liberty call to be put down. It did not come as early as expected (This is very typical),  but we were excited none the less and made a beeline for the train station which was actually right by where the ship was. We caught a train into Rome and took a taxi to our hotel. It was mesmerizing. I have big plans for when I visit Rome again, which I absolutely will, it was by far the best port. There’s so MANY MANY things to see and do.

We arrived at the hotel and immediately we bought a round of drinks to be sent to our rooms while we were getting ready. H and I were in a room together and we got all doled up for the wardroom event they were holding. We both had fancy dresses and high heels, it felt very good to be a girl again. We then took a taxi to the restaurant but the problem was the taxi driver didn’t understand us and he ended up dropping us off right at the Coliseum!

We were walking around the coliseum looking at Roman ruins at night, beautified, staying at an extremely ritzy hotel in downtown Rome, it was so surreal! It was one of the best times of my life. We unfortunately did get lost and we ended up walking around for quite some time looking for the restaurant (high heels on cobblestone streets = very bad idea), but eventually after some confusion and a lot of hand motions (translations between Italian and English) we did get pointed in the right direction and we found the restaurant. We arrived extremely fashionably late which is our style and started playing catch up since everyone was already on course 3 of a 4 course meal. We starting drinking the wine that comes with each course immediately and ate the food which was quite delicious.

Afterwards we walked back up the street to the café that we got directions from, which was located directly across from the coliseum and we drank some drinks and smoked cigars and it was glorious. We were right there beside the coliseum! Dieter, one of the pilots, took a picture of me smoking a cigar with the coliseum in the background!

 

 

Quite a while passed and we were deciding if we should head back to the hotel because it was late, when fireworks started out of nowhere right above the coliseum. I have no idea what the occasion was, but we stayed and watched them till the end. I threw in a few Oooo’s and Ahhhhh’s for old times sake (My dad used to do that every time we saw fireworks when I was growing up).   When we got back to the hotel we went straight to the seventh floor and continued our party a little longer out on a terrace above Rome and it was just a fantastic evening and such a beautiful night.

The next morning, we went to brunch and started off with a few mimosa’s to help with the headache and then we got showers, packed our bags, and went back up to the terrace from the night before to get some pictures overlooking the city. I just love the old style shutters on all the windows and how everything is made around rock formations. We had much to do, so afterwards we asked the hotel to check our bags for us since we had checked out of the hotel and we headed out for the day.

We walked to the spanish steps which are gorgeous and we shopped around that area for the better part of the day checking out all of the BIG TIME stores like Gucci, Burberry, etc.. 🙂 We stopped for a light lunch and then ventured farther out where we ended up at a café buying more bottles of wine and enjoying appetizers right in front of this huge museum.

I unfortunately did not get to go to the Vatican because most of my liberty group had already been there, but I saw it and it was breath-taking to say the least. Many people from the ship went on tours there and one of the officer’s knows a guy that lives and does research at the Vatican so he was able to get a much more in-depth tour then you would normally receive. I thought there were tons of historical things to see in London, but Rome tops that times 10. There’s SO SO SO many things to see. It’s all on my list when I go back. I can’t wait!

By the time we got back to the hotel to pick up our stuff, it was getting pretty late so we had to go eat dinner, which was delicious, I mean it is Rome, and then we caught the train back to the ship. For duty the next day I got to go out for shore patrol and I bought 3 bottles of Italian wine and Lemon Cello which is this alcohol you drink when its cold and you can put it on things such as ice cream. The captain told me about it.

We stopped for a few hours of wi-fi and stayed in Civeteveechia, eating some very good homeaid pizza for dinner. That closes out my first Rome trip. We were underway the very next morning, transited the straits of Bonefacio which are located to the North of Italy and we are now out in open ocean coming across the Atlantic.

We will be pulling into Mayport FL in a few days where I will be meeting M, whom is sailing back to Norfolk with us, and that should be a very good time, there’s a few big events in store such as an air show by the carrier. I am SOO happy to be back to reality soon! It’s very exciting.

Deployment Chronicles–> Article 27 “Idea Gone Bad”

Airboss is gone 😦 We had his farewell yesterday. He went to the carrier for the rest of the deployment and we sure are going to miss him. On his last flight aboard the ship, he logged his 2,000th mile and in celebration we hosed him down and antiqued (poured flour all over) him!

The plan itself backfired a little bit because he was sitting on the starboard (right) side of the helo and when he got out of the helo he backed up and I couldn’t get around to throw the flour in his face. Instead I had to climb under the tail of the helo because of the restrictions on the flight deck with the nets down and when I threw the flour at him, the wind blew half of it back on me.

 

Flower Coming Your Way!

Now for the Water.

Now its My Turn. This Flower is just about to blow back on the both of us. haha.

 

 

There’s the rest of the air crew getting him good with flower and water. I was so happy they let me join in on the festivities since technically I’m not actually part of the air crew.

This is the aftermath. As you can see it didn’t go very well in my favor but I would say at least 1/4 of the flour did land on Airboss.

And that’s the finished product with Airboss. I love this pictures. haha.

The British officer that was onboard with us for a few days saw me afterwards and he was laughing so hard. He said, “What happened.” And when I told him he said, “Bloody hell, that’s a typical school girl mistake.” hahaha.

In case you are wandering the British ships serve alcohol onboard, so you can drink every night and on the weekends unlimited. All I have to say to that is “It’s Bollocks!”

On the night before they pull back into England they have a “Channel Party” in which they transit the English Channel and proceed to get completely sloshed. He said on his last ship when they were going up the channel and from the stories he was telling it seems like a pretty good time. I don’t want to get him in trouble otherwise I would tell you, but just know that drunken fun at the end of a deployment = crazy times! I was very educated on British formalities. This launched an entire conversation about the dutch because apparently on dutch warships everything is co-ed, even the bathrooms! I’ll save that for another day.

I’ve got to go. I get promoted to LTJG (Liutenant Junior Grade) tomomorrow on our transit through the Suez Canal, so that should be interesting. The captain says he has something big in store. Standby for that. I’m moving from gold bars to silver. Woot Woot!

Deployment Chronicles–> Article 22 “This Girl Got Pinned!

And so it finally happened!

After all of this time and all of the hard work, this girl finally got her SWO PIN.

I had a few boards leading up to the main one and each one was more intensive than the last. It was very challenging for me. Before I joined the Navy I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a first class and an officer. But if I can do it anyone can do it, I promise you that.

So when the final board arrived with the commanding officer, I was extremely nervous as always. I’ve never been a good                   boards-(wo)men. They make me very nervous and get sweaty palms but its part of the process I guess.

The wait for the board took 45 minutes, this is not unusual. They normally make you wait a long time, mostly because its hard to get all of the department heads, the XO, and the CO together while you are on deployment. While I was standing outside of the wardroom impatiently waiting for them to commence the board already, the Captain walked out of his cabin and right before he walked into the word room he leaned over and whispered “I’m pulling for you. Good luck.”

That made me feel less queasy. I went into the board and I felt good coming out but I definitely didn’t blow it out of the water. I wish I would have, but they can really ask you anything in the world and I just can’t know it all. Afterwards, I walked out into the p-way (hallway) for the deliberation. It seemed like an eternity but they finally called me back inside. The captain told me that I had definitely missed a few questions that he would like me to learn about, but he also told me that he’d seen me grow over the past year and he was very happy to give me my SWO pin. I was ecstatic! It felt really good. And afterwards, we celebrated in true Navy fashion with some cubans and the pilots on the bridge wing. It was so clutch. It just felt so good. 19 months I had poured into getting that stupid little gold pin. And all of a sudden I had it. After all that.

Captain & I

That pin… Finally!

The Pilots came to celebrate with me.

All of us, Smoking Cubans, Enjoying the Sunset. Glorious.

Model Citizen, Zero Discipline

I’m backkkkk… and this is legit. I have been underway for the past 2 months!!!! and it was very unexpected. We barely had any communications with the real world.

This is how it all started… We began our group sail with our strike group, and that was pretty intense for me. It was Anti Submarine warfare exercises round the clock and little to no rest for me and my guys. We were dying. We were playing war games, and that is always exciting, and this time we even had real submarines to track and track us. While underway the wardroom thought it would be great to grow mustaches for the month. O my goodness we had a whole bunch of pedophiles walking around. I mean SCARY people. I was totally appalled.

So about 16 days into the group sail, we stopped in Mayport just for a few hours and this is when I found out that we were staying in Mayport for the next 2 days and we weren’t going back out with the ships. We were detaching from them and heading South to Panama on an ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) mission. How cool is that???? I was going to be able to get involved and get some real experience.

And just like that, we took on some extra stores, batten down the hatches, I went to the strip club with some guys the night prior, and then the next morning we were sailing South at 25 knots, headed for Cuba and Cancun and ultimately Panama City, Panama South America.

Not many people were excited about this, but deep down, I was excited. This is the kind of shit I signed up for, although I played it off very carefully, not  letting most people in on my excitement factor.

Now for many of you out there who aren’t aware, the panama canal is quite the transit and it takes about 12 hours at sea & anchor to get through it all which again meant no sleep for me. But, I got to be on the bridge the whole time so I couldn’t really complain that much.

Here’s how the canal works. First you drive on up to the first set of locks, there are 5 total, and you parked the ship in the canal like its in a car garage or something. The doors behind you close and the lock starts filling up with water. From the forecastle they take lines that are attached to cars that are on tracks and they help guide you through the whole way so you don’t scrape the sides and bump around in there while you wait. So as the water fills up, you eventually rise high enough for the next set of doors to open. Basically they raise the ship up to transit you through. On the other side of the locks, there’s a lake and you transit that and then do it all over again through another set. It was way cooler than I expected. The ingenuity of the human mind, I’ll tell you.

On both sides of the canal there are tons of ships anchored out that are waiting their turn to transit the canal, sometimes they have to wait for a few days just to get through. I’m sure they weren’t happy we jumped line, but the Navy is always on an agenda.

Once we were safely through we stopped at some piers just on the other side of the second full set of locks and we spent the night, which gave people a time to rest up after the long transit, but more importantly allowed us to refuel and take on stores before continuing on our mission.

My first foreign port, and we weren’t even allowed to go anywhere! I guess I can’t count this one… I still sent out 10 postcards to all my friends and family, just so I could feel like I was a tourist.

After our day of rest, we were underway and still steaming at 25 knots rushing over to the area below Guatemala and El Salvador. When we arrived on station, well that’s when our hell began. We were put into port and starboard watches which means 12 hours of watch a day. It is terrible. It was 7 hours on watch, 7 hours off, 5 hours on watch, 5 hours off. These times became very tough for me. I do not drink coffee or energy drinks (I’ve never had either) and I refuse to drink that stuff so I was walking around like a zombie. All I did was eat, sleep, and stand watch.

At noon everyday we had a meeting scheduled where we would be able to get together and talk about our plan of attack. On the first day I was standing up waiting to get everyone’s attention and I said, “good afternoon war council.” Apparently they liked that one because the next day instead of it saying meeting in the plan of the day it said war council meeting. I laughed when I saw it.

We stayed on port and starboard watches for two weeks before we had to go and refuel. One day when we were driving around and I was directing the ship where to go I decided to make a star pattern on the display with the ship. Needless to say I completed my pattern, took a picture of it since the line shows where the ship goes, and then I emailed it to my dad, because I mostly drove it in this pattern just so I could tell my dad, I was driving it like I stole it. He got a kick out of that one.

While working our way towards Columbia, we embarked a Coast Guard Ledet, two helos, a desron staff, and a Columbian officer. It was quite the to do. I met some very interesting people. We stayed on station for endgame and then we headed back for home. Luckily, we did make it home the Friday before thanksgiving which made people very happy.

I missed a wedding, and my corrective vision while we were gone, but the experience was great. I can’t wait to get to some more foreign ports!!!

Japanese Adventure.

Wow! We just got back from a two week underway and boy was it jam packed with event after event. My newest story was quite the adventure and I am very glad to be sharing it. When we left, I knew that we were going to meet up with three Japanese ships and one other U.S. ship (the Donald Cook) in the middle of the Atlantic, and I was pretty excited. In preparation the navigator had all of the Junior Officer’s (JO’s) convene in the wardroom for maneuvering board training.

The next morning we were underway. I was the conning officer and things went smoothly. When we got out to the Atlantic and met up with the Japanese ships, there was word that some of the JO’s were going to be able to get boated over via Japanese small boat and spend the day on board the ships. I had no thoughts at all that I would be picked because I don’t have a chief and my first class that helps me run the show went on leave to move houses. My division kept telling me “watch ma’am, their going to pick you, we just know it.” I did not believe them.

But they were right! I was picked and P and I went together to the Kashima where we met some very interesting people. The beginning of the trip did not start off well to say the least. Our ship was dead in the water for the transfer because the Japanese version of the small boat was quite different from our version. We disembarked via the flight deck using a jacob’s ladder. I was the first one to climb down and the people in the Japanese small boat did not understand that they needed to hold on to the ladder in order for me to get safely down it so just when I was about to get into the boat, the ladder slipped out and I went crashing into the side of my own freaking ship and I was dangling on a ladder that went to the ocean. It was a little to scary, but I didn’t have time to think I just needed to react.

Now the rope ladder was in between my ship and the Japanese small boat and a rolling wave came up, of course. I frantically tried to climb up the ladder a few feet and my right leg did not make it. The Japanese small boat smashed into my leg and my leg smashed into the side of the ship and I screamed at the top of my lungs. When I did get down into the boat I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk but after a few minutes the pain subsided, and I decided to stick it out.

When we got to their ship they immediately took us up to the bridge to meet the captain and the admiral that was onboard for the world tour. Everything was so clean. That’s all I could think, after walking down the first p-way. Instead of having one ladder well on each side of the ship they had an ascending and descending ladder well’s side by side. That made for easy transiting. After we were introduced to the captain and the admiral we went to the wardroom to put our things down.

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This is when I found out that 2 midshipmen were on the ship from the academy and they were riding for two weeks time. This was very good for me because they spoke Japanese pretty fluently and became our translators throughout the day. We took a tour and saw the ships layout. They have an elaborate apartment onboard for the emperor  and we tried to convince our tour guide to take us past the gold rope but he was unable to. boo. I really wanted to see it.

After the tour we headed to the bridge because they were just about to start Divtacs and we wanted to see it from their angle and of course see how efficient they were at taking stations. While there, I took lots of pictures and got some good ones of my ship in the water off of our starboard bow. They had the Japanese helo in the air and it was taking pictures of the formations. The captain of the Kashima got very annoyed because they didn’t want anyone outside for the pictures, but the captain of my ship was out on the bridge wing with a group of people and would not go inside. Patrick and I laughed a whole lot about this.

After the Divtacs it was time for lunch, what I had been waiting for this the whole time. Apparently a Friday in Japan is similar to slider Wednesday in the U.S. because they have rice and curry every Friday. I piled my tray high and took chopsticks plus a spoon, just in case. The food was pretty good. We had tea with our meal, which was very refreshing and I will say that the Japanese really do know how to cook some great rice., as if there would be any doubt.

While eating I asked a guy sitting across from me what kind of music he listens to. One of the midshipmen translated for me. He said that he liked American music. I asked him which kind. He said that his favorites were Lady Gaga and Slipnot. What a combination. I of course started singing raa raaa rra a aaaa “Bad Romance” and he started bouncing to the beat. Apparently they had stopped in D.C. as part of their world tour adventure, and half the ship had bought the new Lady Gaga C.D. We were laughing so hard and singing lady gaga songs at lunch. It was quite a show.

I enjoyed my entire day on board. I learned how to play Zero, caught up on the latest Japanese fashion with some of the girls, and learned about a great comic book read, saw their onboard symphony band practice, and even head banged to some Slipnot.

Going home, or back to my ship should I say, we flew by helo instead of by taking the small boat. It was a great time!

My First Serious Ass Chewing

So my ship has been out to sea the entire week without me and of course I can’t help but think gosh I should be out there, I’m definitely missing valuable time working on qualifications and all of that shit. Well I wish I could say I didn’t think about that once but I’m a huge nerd and I did miss it. One of the best things about my job is being out on the water and driving the ship. I mean I can’t help but say I’m a little excited about the things I do.

So while my ship has been gone without me I am stuck in school learning about things I can’t speak a word about. Which don’t get me wrong, that is very intriguing as well.

My first time as the conning officer was not so good let me tell you. Things went from bad to worse at a very fast rate. It was the day that I thought this might not be life for me after all. But it has gotten much better since. Let me reminisce with you for a hot second.

Just a few months ago it was my first time out on the open water. It was exciting and exhilarating all at the same time. One significant thing about my first underway was that the captain was not with us. A commodore was embarked taking his place for a few weeks. Captain W. I will never forget him. He’s the captain you imagine captain’s to be. Very fierce and always saying something, which in the end always seems to work out in the right way. I had just taken the conn, first time, and it was not going well at all. I had some simulated experience driving the ship at a class I had taken previously, but nothing could have prepared me for this. I was messing up everything. Always saying the wrong thing, and struggling through the words. I was slightly miserable and extremely afraid I was going to get kicked off the bridge on my first try.

Captain W came up to the bridge which made me much more nervous and this is not even twenty minutes into the watch. Gosh. Then seconds later they call “MAN OVERBOARD, MAN OVERBOARD, starboard side”. Nobody had even told me there was supposed to be a drill and apparently they had thrown oscar (the man overboard dummy- bright orange fake guy) into the water from the flight deck. I had no idea what to do except to run to the starboard bridge wing and hopefully figure something out once I got there. The only good thing I did right was order a left right rutter and then I was completely clueless.

So I run out to the bridge wing and one of the guys on the training team joins me and says you really don’t know what you’re doing do you. I looked at him with a blank face and shook my head. I’m doomed was all I kept thinking.

Of course we are joined seconds later by captain W and he wasn’t to happy with the job I was doing. I hadn’t thrown a smoke float into the water, we hadn’t raised the man overboard flag, and we definitely had not blown six short blasts on the ships whistle because well I had no clue what was going on. Can I also just add the fact that I had only been onboard the ship like three weeks. But whatever, they expect you to know everything in this profession.

So he starts helping me to drive the ship. (one other thing I would like to state before going on is the fact that he definitely had no idea this was my first time on the bridge, and I surely wasn’t about to tell him) So he started to get slightly aggravated with the fact that I was incapable of doing anything right. Then he was ordering me to drive the ship. Of course something went wrong with the port engine and we ran over oscar completely while trying to rescue him. I was slightly mortified but all I did was repeat his orders and continue pointing at the man in the water.

It took us almost thirty some minutes to retrieve him, an all time worst. It should take only about ten at the most. It was a disaster in the making. I heard some harsh words which I shall not repeat, but in the end I somehow made it through. Then the captain left the bridge and I thought that was that.

Of course it wasn’t.

Four hours later, ten minutes before the end of my first watch, the captain reappears on the bridge and sits in his chair. A menacing fact. The only thing I could hope was that he wouldn’t see me, that he would let me slip away undetected. I did my first turnover, blundering through it, because I had never really seen it done and then I was about to leave when the captain calls my name. I look over to him and he is beckoning me to him. There’s nothing that I can do but go… unfortunately.

I walk over to him and receive what I know best as my first serious ass chewing… in front of the entire pilot house. MY only response to everything was “yes sir” “yes sir” “yes sir”. I’m not even sure exactly what he said but I gave him my most stern face and repeated yes sir to everything about how terrible I had done, about how I needed to learn a lot more, about everything.

I said yes sir until he dismissed me and I did not run but I beelined my way off the bridge as fast as humanly possible without looking like a scared rabbit. Overall my first real ass chewing went pretty well, but it was a hard first one. I can only do better than that I guess.

The Lone Survivor

This is by far one of the most riveting real world war stories, that I have read. Most of the war stories that I do indulge in are world war 2 focused, and I just happened to pick this book up in Barnes and Noble and that was it. I barely put it down.

I cried all afternoon yesterday, because of the story, and I really am not upset to admit it. These are real men who do things that barely anyone can do and there must be a stand taken, just as Marcus (the author) states. We cannot allow the piece of shit politicians try to seriously put our seals on trial for murder when they are doing only what they’ve been trained. This is a fucking war. People die, people who shouldn’t be involved die, there are war casualties and I personally do not wish for it to be our naval seals that are the casualties. They are trained to kill, and you are turning a blind eye if you forget that fact.

This roles of engagement bullshit needs fixed. They are in the mountains trying to take out the ring leaders the best they can and they are being tried for murder. Most of the people out there absolutely hate americans, because that’s what they’ve been taught, they will do anything they can to see them dead at their own hands. Don’t be foolish to think otherwise.

I will get off my soapbox but Marcus’s words have rang true to me. Let our seals fight.

I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone and if you want a summary of it go to amazon.com, but I am trying to raise awareness. Just last week when I was going to get lunch there was a group of protesters fighting for seals rights in front of the entrance to Norfolk Naval Station. They have moved me, along with the book. Save our United States Naval Seals.

Step out of the way assholes, and let our seals fight like they were taught.