Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What is it about shipyards and holiday weekends

Once again, the good folks at the shipyard managed to hem, haw, find problems, delay, and shove our latest evolution into the July 4th weekend.

Amazing how that works. Overtime, braddah...

Now I'm not griping (well, OK, I am a little)...I understand why (we have a hard deadline for turning over the Reactor Compartment, it's set in granite, and due to delays in various support systems our setting of plant conditions got delayed...beyond our control). I have been doing this enough to know that sometimes you have to just bite the bullet and "get 'er done".

However, we've spent the last two holiday weekends in shiftwork. This makes three. I'm not making Christmas plans...

I'll say this...our command is very, very good about making it up to the crew. I've been on boats with commands that either simply said "suck it up" or said "we'll make it up to you" and...well..."forgot". This boat puts it's money/liberty where it's mouth is.

It's part of the job to do the hard jobs on the undesirable days. Part of the "Saturdays, Sundays, and Nights" of SSNs, I suppose.

It's odd, in a way...I've had duty or been in shiftwork over a couple of July 4th holidays, and rather than really be resentful (I'm a sailor, there's going to be some grumbles...a b*tchin' sailor is a happy sailor, right?), I remember back to a July 4th duty day when I was EDPO and a good friend of mine (and fellow first class...c'mon, the Goat Locker was sure to be off that day :) was Duty Chief. We sat out topside on the pier for the fireworks show and at the end looked at each other and he said "just think...someone like us a couple hundred years ago made that possible".

So this July 4th, remember...days off are great, liberty is something every sailor looks forward to, but it wasn't a long weekend that won the war back in the 1700s...or any of 'em since.

I'm never thrilled about working on a holiday...but deep down, I know why we do, and when it's all said and done I really wouldn't want to give up what we have for a few holidays off. There are always more, and despite how it sometimes feels you don't really draw the duty every holiday.

Now all you other submariners I'm sure pulled your share of holiday duty/shiftwork/sea time. How and/or what did you do to make it pass a little better? Like for me with Christmas in Freemantle, Australia...let me tell you, the Aussie sub that hosted us put on a Christmas dinner on our boat that would put a top chef to shame (I had duty, figured if I couldn't be home with the family I may as well take duty and let the single guys have a day with a local Aussie family). The dinner was so good, guys stopping in from liberty were not only staying aboard to have chow, they were getting their buddies to come back for some (no kidding!). And there was that July 4th where my buddy the Duty Chief and I cornered the duty cook and explained reality to him...he was going to break out the ice cream and cookies the MS chief had hidden away in the freezebox or the ship's qual card just wasn't going to get signed (we were evil, I know...but we did have plenty of ice cream, and MSCS was only slightly angry with us...we only had to scrub the decks in crew's mess, not strip and wax...).

Any good holiday stories on duty/at sea?

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At 6:40 AM, Blogger Tim said...

We were in Port Everglades to calibrate something in the forward compartments (i was a nuke electrician) and then do a test shot of the SubRoc. A Brit sub pulls in on July 3rd. We get to trading sea stories adn their leading chief gets the bright idea we ought to celebrate the 4th with a Brit American cookout. We were scheduled to have a workday on the 4th but by the time the two COBs got their thing together, the COs are all for staying in and having a cookout. We supplied the steaks and fixins, the Brits donated cases and cases of Brit beer. What a day! We ate till we were sick, drank a lot of good beer, had a mock Bunker Hill battle, traded dolphins and all in all had a great July 4th.

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At sea Christmas Eve. I'm on watch as Sonar Supervisor. I make the report of a new sonar contact of sleigh bells and eight tiny reindeer hoofs just after all balls, right off the bow. The OOD gets permission from the CO to come to PD, and we raise the induction mast (we just equalize). The COB, dressed up like St. Nick, goes around the boat and passes out little gift boxes to whoever's awake. The gifts are all passed out, and "Santa" goes back up the induction mast. We go deep. I report I hear a sleigh taking off from the top of the sail. We made homemade Christmas trees out of green poly bags, and a senior chief carved a nativity scene out of a wooden fruit crate. It sucked being at sea for Christmas (we did it 3 years in a row), but we made the best of it, and everybody was actually in a sort of cheery mood. Not bad considering the circumstances.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger MrPhilTX said...

Thank you sirs, all of you, for working on holidays so my family and I can go watch fireworks.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Sonarman, that was awesome. I've been lucky, drawn duty a few Christmases but never been at sea. I once drew duty on Christmas in Austraila during WestPac, but (see my main article) it was not at all bad. But calling sleigh bells on sonar and "Santa" down the induction mast...classic.

Had to suck, indeed, being out on Christmas. My last boat had a history of Christmas deployments, every one they had been on was over the holidays (I only made one, though it was 9 months). There was one guy who had made 3, all over Christmas, on that boat. That's just wrong, somehow...


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