Thursday, September 30, 2004

I got a "sea story" posted!

I found a blog a few weeks ago written by an active duty Navy Captain, and posted a comment to one of his remarks about refueling at sea. He posted it out for the general readership! My first ship was a fleet replenishment oiler and our job was to drive along, all 40,000 tons of steel, 6 million gallons of diesel fuel and 600 tons of ammunition and spare parts, at about 12 kts on a steady course and have ships from aircraft carriers to small combatants to come up beside us, at about 120 to 160 feet (yes, feet!), at which point, we'd send over fueling hoses and hydraulically tensioned span wires for passing cargo. A short "alongside time" was about 20 minutes, which was more to keep proficient at maneuvering alongside, but we had some ships alongside for hours. For the ship coming alongside, they had to match our course and speed precisely for the entire time. It is a real exercise in relative motion. Not only did we do it with one ship, but we had the manpower to have a ship on each side at one time. Oh, throw in that we carried two cargo helicopters, which would take off, then hover over the deck (while we went thru the ocean) to pick up pallet loads of cargo or ammunition/bombs on a hook under the "bird." So, rigs "flying" to ships port and starboard, plus helos swooping in over the fight deck aft was just another day at the office for the 450 of us aboard the USS MILWAUKEE (AOR-2). You wouldn't have know it be how smoothly the operation is executed, but death lurked all around. Between the incredible power of nature, and the frail nature of human engineering, mixed with moments of inattention, and it's a recipe for disaster, but I never saw a serious accident on either side of that eveolution in 9 years of sea assignments, only two of which I was on the ship that just sat in the middle, with everyone else having the hard ship handling work. For 7 years of sea assignments, I was on the other side. If you're mildly curious about what I told Chap, then it's at My post on Chapomatic. I'll warn you, it's sort of full of Navy language, but it should be understandable. If you need it clarified, just ask.....

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