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Diary of a Sea-Going Sailor

Part 2, Page 2


Navy Ship Rack

Navy Rack that's on display at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

Copyright 2003 by Patrick Long

The racks are stacked three high. The bottom one is on the deck (unlike on my first command, where it was three or four inches above – if you think that rack lid gets heavy, think about how much fun it would be to trice up [pull up on its hinge and secure at a 45° angle to allow for sweeping underneath] the whole rack), the middle one about waist high (to me, and I stand 6’1”), and the top rack is at about shoulder height.

Each rack is prized for different reasons for different people. I used to prefer the top rack, because there’s more head room up there. But, I’m not as young as I used to be, and the middle rack is my preference. I’ve never wanted a bottom rack, though some like it as being closer to the deck in case they roll out of their rack at night. At the top of this page is a picture of a rack that’s on display at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

Okay, you’ve unpacked. By this time, either a duty division person or your sponsor (depending again upon the time of day you’ve reported aboard) should arrive to show you the important places.


Most ships serve meals at the same time. Breakfast from 0600 to 0700, lunch from 1130 to 1230, dinner from 1630 to 1730. (Sorry – for the military time impaired, that’s 6:00 am to 7:00 am, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, and 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm). There is a half hour before lunch and dinner that is called “Early Chow” – this is for watch reliefs, so that they may eat and then get changed for their watches; one doesn’t want to get BBQ sauce all over their whites on ribs night.

So, one’s first day can be pretty hectic. If you reported aboard on a Friday after working hours, or over the weekend, then Monday is your next “fun” day – otherwise, get some sleep for tomorrow.

Reveille – usually 0600 Monday through Friday (Saturdays can be 0600 or 0630, and Sundays/Holidays around 0700 or so. Some ships run alternate hours in port to ease congestion on base for getting to work. When underway, it can be earlier, depending upon what’s on the agenda for the day. Such as perhaps pulling back into port – don’t think too many would be upset to wake up early for that.

After breakfast is usually the Department Head Meeting, followed by divisional quarters for Muster (is everyone present?), Instruction (reading of the Plan of the Day (POD) and putting out information from the DH Meeting), and Inspection (how’s your uniform look?). Once quarters is completed, your sponsor should take you in hand (figuratively speaking) – it’s time to get you checked into the command.

First step is Administration Office, either the day you arrived or the first working day after that. Admin is where you’re going to be turning in your service record, filling out your travel claim (hope you kept all your receipts), and picking up your check-in sheet.

The check-in process has more than just one objective / purpose. First, it gets you to see each link in your chain of command, all the way up to the Captain. Usually:

  • Leading Petty Officer (LPO)
  • Leading Chief Petty Officer (LCPO)
  • Division Officer (DIVO or abbreviation for their job)
  • Department Head (Usually called the short version of their department name – the Weapons Department Head is usually WEPS)
  • the Command Master Chief (CMC)
  • Executive Officer (XO)
  • Commanding Officer (CO or Captain – and sometimes “Skipper”)

You also learn important places to know, such as Medical (be prepared – you may need more shots, depending upon the ship’s mission/schedule), Disbursing (you do want your pay, don’t you?), Post Office, Network Administrator, Career Counselor. Additionally, you'll learn which individuals with collateral duties that affect you (Safety Officer, Watchbill Coordinator, Physical Fitness Coordinator).

If one pays attention to their surroundings while following their sponsor, one can start to get a good grasp on how the ship is laid out, and how to get around. On most ships, one has five days to complete the process.

Continued in Part 3 - Indoctrination

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