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Old 07-05-2012, 11:22 AM   #81
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Christina and her husband were completely thrilled at Spain's Euro 2012 victory over the weekend (his native country). Really, they went wild and didn't "come down" for ages.

The next day they had to get rid of the odor of a skunk that sprayed in their back yard, apparently too close to the house because they could smell it inside. That, before she headed off to a doctor appointment and then came home and lost 2.5 hours of video game play because she forgot to save her game. (! kids )

Yesterday they installed elaborate new lighting fixtures in their computer room and bedroom - - fancy/fanciful ones that look like stars. I think it is so cool that her DH puts up with her love of fantasy and imagination. In fact, he seems to share it.

Then last night, she posted a video on Facebook of the Oregon-legal fireworks they set off.

Just keeping track of what they do is enough to tire me out! I didn't even mention the smaller stuff.

"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - - - C. Columbus
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:02 PM   #82
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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 "-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 flashbacks experience. He's absolutely right!


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Old 07-11-2012, 11:28 PM   #83
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The last update.

The seven women midshipmen aboard USS LOUISIANA (SSBN-743) GOLD did a small-boat transfer at San Clemente Island on Monday and flew to San Diego on Tuesday. Our daughter got home about six hours ago, talking a blue streak for a couple hours. There's plenty left to discuss, but I think chronic fatigue is starting to catch up.

She's indeed earned her deterrent patrol pin, properly documented. I'm going to pry the stars off one of mine and pass the torch. She can reload it at her leisure over the next decade or two.

The boat spent the last month getting ready for their Tactical Readiness Exam. Over our welcome-home restaurant lunch, the force's newest Basic Sonar Operator caught me up on the tech upgrades to the BQQ-5E sonar system. In a stunning example of "We shoulda done this 25 years ago", flat-screen monitors now display the OOD's sonar picture in the wardroom and in the CO's stateroom. Other things never change: the BQA-8 self-noise monitor is still poorly-used by the crew and the WLR-9 threat receiver still alarms constantly on biologics. She got to listen to an F/A-18 flying overhead when the submarine was running shallow under the MCAS Miramar approach corridor. I have a lot of other tech questions but my spouse was already showing signs of nausea at the subject matter.

I don't know if this is a LOUISIANA modification or force-wide, but the crew's personal dosimeter is attached not just onto the belt but also by a tiny lanyard to the nearest belt loop.* Theoretically this keeps it from accidentally being dropped into the bilge... or into the toilet.

Submariners are familiar with the "beard chit". The boat shuts the hatches and disappears for several weeks, making several uniform modifications for comfort (and less laundry). Water use is also minimized, so all the guys want to stop shaving. The Navy procedure is to route a request chit to the XO, who signs the chit after an appropriate donation to the crew's recreation fund. $5 for enlisted, more for officers.

The Navy's personnel experts did a lot of planning for the proper integration of women into submarine crews, but I'm not sure that "beard chits" was on the checklist. The women midshipmen took care of that problem on their own: ponytail chits. The XO approved their initiative, but only for the women.

LOUISIANA is the last of the OHIO-class. ( When the submarine force was opened to women in 2010, it was just the first four submarines of the class (which have been converted to SSGNs) and their eight BLUE-GOLD crews: a Supply Officer (lieutenant) and two nuclear junior officers (ensigns & LTJGs) for a total of 24 women. I haven't seen an official announcement yet, but I've been told by a highly reliable source that LOUISIANA will also start getting women officers next January. That implies the entire OHIO class is being opened to women officers, hopefully soon to be followed by women chief petty officers and the rest of the enlisted ranks.

It's a good thing our daughter doesn't care for tattoos, or that boomer pin would already be inked on. She brought home a "Pros vs Cons" list that we'll compare to mine. (I wrote mine up 20 years ago but I bet the "Cons" haven't changed much.) I think she's made up her mind, but my jobs over the next three weeks are "devil's advocate" and "full disclosure".

In between surf sessions, of course...

* The LiF coner dosimeters, not the CaF2 engineering dosimeters. She didn't notice how the latter were attached, but I bet the nukes have found a third way to secure it...


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