Hey! This Ensign Shih coming to you from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I have been on board CGC Bertholf for the past week and a half, and have to say I’ve been having a pretty good time. I reported in on June 19th, and the next day left San Francisco Bay to join RIMPAC 2012 in Hawaii (If you want to know more about RIMPAC…it’s in the Battleship movie).
Right now I am serving my first billet in the Coast Guard as a student engineer, and would definitely say I feel a bit like a fish out of water. Engineering is not my element (I majored in Management at the Academy), but the way I see it I am getting to learn about some extremely cool systems on a brand new boat, and am getting paid to go to extra hands-on engineering school!
They really throw you into the fire when you first report in, and I would say a very important thing I was able to take from the Academy was trained initiative. On board, there is no one who can hold an Ensigns hand, because everyone is so busy. People are often more than happy to help, but you must seek out that help, because it’s not just going to come to you. I wish I could say I have been doing a lot of cool things the past week, but I really haven’t. My life right now is relief memos and drawings of the ship systems. Drawing…I would compare to SED at the Academy, it just does not click in my head. Lucky for me however, I have had a ton of help from the Chief’s Mess and the crew (who are great!), and after 26 painful drawings I only have two left. While I may not be doing cool things, the crew definitely has. I have been able to observe most of them, and participate in a few exercises. I don’t know if I am suppose to talk about what we have been doing, so I will just leave that to your imagination.
I can’t say I particularly enjoy being underway, but I definitely don’t hate it like I thought I might. I know many young JOs start their careers underway, and as my Captain says it is important part of our service’s history and there is a reason young men and women have been doing it for decades. Who knows? I may end up being a cutterman yet. Only time will tell. I have to say though, that if you want to work out underway, a National Security Cutter is the way to go. The gym on Bertholf is about the size of the Chase Hall gym at the Academy, and has just about everything one would need to stay in shape underway. Granted, there is rarely time to work out underway (I skip dinner to do so), always something to do…always more quals to chase.
I need to get back to my drawings, but I hope that all the swabs and cadre are having a great summer. It’s strange to think they people I yelled at two years ago are doing the yelling now. One of my old cadre is actually on my boat…
As always if you have any questions about fleet life (my limited experience) or the Academy feel free to contact me, I will do my best to answer!
More about Chris.