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Diary of a Sea-Going Sailor

Part 2 - Welcome Aboard

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Ha! Thought I forgot what the point of this article was, didn’t you. I warned you that I’d meander here and there.

Up the brow we go. Remember what you’re taught in boot camp – salute the National Ensign first, then turn and salute the Officer of the Deck (OOD) and request permission to come aboard. Once aboard, present your orders to the OOD to be signed.

Now, a couple dozen individuals coming down the pier is a good clue, and so the Master At Arms (MAA) has already been called, and is waiting on the quarterdeck. The MAA is responsible for making sure that you (and those reporting with you) have a rack assigned. This may be a temporary assignment – sometimes the normal berthing may be full, due to individuals that have not yet transferred off the ship – after all, you’re there to replace someone that’s been there awhile, and a turnover between the two of you is desired. “Normally” (and never rely on things being “normal”), each department has their own berthing compartment – Engineering has their own berthing, Supply has theirs – and sometimes two smaller departments may share a berthing. Some things may vary, depending upon the time you arrive – if you arrive after working hours, or on a weekend or holiday, then it’s the Duty MAA that will take you to your rack – and it may take a few moments for the Duty MAA to get to the quarterdeck.

Berthing

Okay, to berthing we go…

In berthing, one is assigned a rack and an upright locker. Don’t panic if you can’t get everything into both lockers. You will be allowed to store the excess or what you don’t need (such as your whites in the middle of winter) in the ship’s seabag locker (actually, the seabag locker is a compartment specifically designated for such storage).

As you start unpacking, you’ll have noticed that the berthing isn’t all that roomy – depending upon the age of the craft. Either it’s age catching up to me, or the berthing units keep getting smaller, the newer they are. But that’s one of the things that we sailors have to deal with – that the reason we are here is to crew a warship – and the warfighting equipment gets first priority in the design of the ship. The berthings are getting better, though, as a part of the increasing of the quality of life aboard ship. There are a few nice things that I noticed immediately when checking on Porter – one of which is that there are big, wide screen flat TV’s in every berthing. After the first impression, I realize that though it’s good for crew morale, there’s another benefit to having such technology in the berthing – the smaller profile, and lighter weight, make this much less a missile hazard in the case that it breaks loose from its securing during heavy seas. >sigh< I’ve been in the Navy awhile, I know – but I’ve seen a tube TV break loose before. It’s not just a pain to clean up, but there’s hazardous material in those tubes that require special clean-up procedures… but I’m drifting away from the main topic, aren’t I?

Eh? You say I only mentioned one locker? Well, yes and no - I said that you would be assigned a rack and a locker… but didn’t mention that the rack contained a locker as well. The upright is (nominally) for hanging items, and the rack locker is for the folded items (and other things like books, CD’s, electric razor…).

The rack has an overall length of almost 77 inches, a width of almost 27 inches, a depth of a little over 6 inches, and is divided into compartments four major ones (two at the head, two at the foot), and four minor ones (these are centered). There is one additional compartment, but this one contains an Emergency Escape Breathing Device (EEBD), and is not accessible for crew storage.

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