Our daughter e-mailed from her submarine training cruise again.
I'm not sure when she wrote this-- it arrived 6 July but they were getting ready to celebrate Independence Day. However I can easily believe the Engineer would tell the Commanding Officer that they wanted to delay celebrating "Independence" Day for a couple days so that they could finish running drills before they started cleaning the boat.
She's now writing entire sentences in acronyms. Here's a decryption:
PT: Physical training. She's rightfully terrified of the "Welcome back!" workout that the NROTC unit's Marine gunnery sergeant will greet them with next month.
EDMC: Engineering Department Master Chief, an E-9 or hotshot senior E-8. The senior engineering enlisted leader and #2 enlisted on the boat. Works directly for the Engineer Officer, although sometimes it appears to be the other way around. You may respect the Engineer but you do not mess with the EDMC, and many rightfully fear him more than the boat's most senior enlisted leader.
EAB: Emergency air breathing mask. When the fire alarm goes off, you have 60 seconds to find one (stored throughout the boat) and don it. Otherwise you suffer the humiliation of being declared "injured" and evacuated to the mess decks for the first-aid trainees to practice on.
EAB lines: Two 100-psi air lines that run through the overhead both port & stbd on all levels. Each has a manifold of quick-release connections every 10 feet ("or so") that takes the bayonet plug of the EAB air hose. The manifolds are marked, and the deck has non-skid marker patches to find the manifolds by scuffing around with your hands or feet, but the drill monitors usually put a bag over your head to simulate smoke. You have to memorize manifold locations and feel your way... before you run out of breath. While you're carrying DC gear or a fire hose. And maybe wearing a firefighting suit.
DC locker: Full of damage control gear for fires & flooding. Tools to break into lockers or equipment, to rip out insulation or piping lagging, to pull electrical fuses, and to make emergency repairs to leaky piping.
SCBA: Self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighting. Same SCUBA-like equipment worn by civilian firefighters. Much more mobility than an EAB, but much bulkier & heavier.
Band-It Kit: a special tool for tightening ½"-wide metal strapping around a leaking pipe. Part of damage-control training to stop flooding. The metal strap is strong enough to hold down a piece of rubber-coated metal to seal a pipe's gash or hole, and the tool is designed to set the strap and tighten it. However the metal strapping is sharp, you are cold and wet and oily, and it's hard to manipulate when you're shivering.
SEIE: Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment. Replaced the Steinke hood of my day. A one-person whole-body immersion suit with its own liferaft. Suitable for making a free ascent from 600 feet, and maybe even surviving it. Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Maneuvering": the 10'x8' corner of the engineroom where the Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) stands watch with the enlisted Reactor Operator, Electrical Operator, and Throttle Operator. It's the first engineering watch that a junior officer qualifies after nuclear power school. Maneuvering has all the remote indications and announcing systems to coordinate with the engineering watchstanders (around them) and the Officer of the Deck (up forward). During drills, however, Maneuvering is stuffed with (at least) a drill monitor for each watchstander, maybe an extra phone talker to relay more word to outside drill monitors, the Engineer (to yell at the EOOW), the CO (to yell at the Eng), and as many observers as can fit in the nooks & crannies. It's like a Tokyo subway car during rush hour.
A "submersible pump" is lowered into a flooded bilge (or compartment) and the water is pumped into the drain piping header to be discharged overboard. I had to look up the tech manual: it weighs 61 pounds. One more reason why the crew is "volunteering" to step aside and let her get the experience...
Until this month, our daughter has never drunk coffee. Not even frooty-tooty Starbucks drinks. She says she can't stand the taste.
So here she is:
The two weeks since I started watchstanding have been a blur. While on watch I did everything the crew in my section did: stand the six-hour watch, respond to drills during off-going, sleep during on-coming, and somehow fit in shower and PT time. I was so exhausted by the end of this week, the last time I was that tired was… hunh, I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired to drink 12 sips of black coffee before.
I’ve participated in a number of the “usual” drills while in off-going. I’ve donned fire fighting gear a couple times and actually gone to handle the hoses, give the turnover, everything. When I started yelling the turnover in my female voice the EDMC grabbed my mask to see who it was, and gave a loud “HOOYAH FOR PARTICIPATING!” The submersible pumps are a little heavy, but the crew is impressed I can handle the hoses and connectors up and down ladders. I’ve put on EABs more times than I want to count, and I started thinking of the boat in terms of EAB lines and DC lockers. I was also pleasantly surprised that I still remembered how a lot of the gear worked from last year, especially the SCBAs and the Band-It kits.
I soon realized I only had a week left on the boat, and nearly all of my time was with Sonar Division. I left the watch schedule after about eight days of qualified watches, and promptly slept for 10 hours. Then when I woke up, I ran around the boat and finished my general Midshipman qualification card. One of the blocks in the card was qualifying something like Broadband Sonar Operator, and also a bunch of Maneuvering and DC knowledge, including SEIEs. I also spent some quality time in Maneuvering during a drill with everyone else in there. As the first Midshipman done qualifying, the CO gave me his ‘excellence’ battle coin. It’s shiny and heavy and I’m more proud of it than I should be! I also ran around during field day selling the raffle tickets for the boat’s recreational fund.
When I first got onboard, I asked the Navigator for copies of the Deck Log showing my time aboard the boat, and I also asked him later about getting paperwork proving that I get my boomer pin. He came back earlier this week to say he’s making a “Page 13” and a letter showing both my time onboard and my time on… well, the specific wording for boomer pin. He advised me to make an “I Love Me Binder”; I said my parents call it the Brag Book.
We’re finally celebrating Independence Day! The last few days have been drills and drills and drills and more drills. I’ve never seen the crew so exhausted and the nights so quiet. But I’m sure everyone will come back out for the epic lunch the galley is putting out: cheeseburgers, hot dogs, fries, ribs, the BEST chocolate chip cookies, and three layer red-white-blue cake with a fourth layer of icing. I’m definitely not eating dinner tonight!
For you dolphin-wearers, it sounds like it's been a month of ORSE workup with some alert time for STRATCOM. As I read this excerpt from the MILPERSMAN, she appears to have met the squishy requirements to wear the boomer pin:
I thought there was a 90-day time requirement, but this was updated after my time!
SSBN Deterrent Patrol insignia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
She sounds like such a nuke-- she may have made her choice. Heaven help her for deciding to be a trailblazer, an additional challenge that I didn't have to endure. I don't think a 1/c training cruise on an AEGIS destroyer next year (or whatever she gets) is going to top this experience. We'll have to see what she says when she returns home and the Radio Division is no longer reading her e-mails. I suspect only a handful of NROTC midshipmen earned their boomer pin this year, and I suspect a very very small fraction of them are women.
Midshipmen on summer training earn half of an ensign's pay. She doesn't get NROTC stipends unless college is in session, but she'll bring home $1400 of taxable income from this month of sea duty. (Of course the best part was the free food.) This is the stage where they suck 'em in with the excitement and the challenge, and then tell them it's just like that at Nuclear Power School...
A good friend pointed out that I'm having way too much fun vicariously re-living the
experience. He's absolutely right!