During the first week aboard the Joshua Appleby (a 17- foot buoy tender based out of St. Petersburg, Florida), I have already learned a lot about the ship and am well on my way to an in-port watchstander qualification. This qualification will actually mean something, as once you qualify, you become one of two people required to stay onboard the boat, and are directly responsible for the safety of the ship and the people aboard it. Because of the small crew size, some of the qualifications I’m tasked with doing by the Academy will probably not get done. For example, instead of getting Damage Control Personnel Qualification Standard (DCPQS), this boat has what’s called SEOPS, which covers a lot what is in DCPQS, but is intended for smaller crews. Sections of this are required to qualify as in-port watchstander, which should hopefully count toward some points of my DCPQS qualifications. As far as the time I’ve spent on board, the boat just got back from a long trip, so there are only ever two people on board the boat at a time (the watch) while everyone else is home or on liberty. Instead of letting this time go by and waiting for the entire crew to come back to start my qualifications, I’ve been utilizing this time to knock out as many sign-offs as possible. At the end of week one, I’m already almost done with the sign-offs, but still need to do four more of my seven engineering drawings, some more SEOPS material, and read assorted manuals. I came in with the set goal of working hard no matter what and trying to help the crew as much as possible. So far I’m well on my way to doing this and have already given up countless hours of potential liberty in Florida to get qualified sooner. My main hope is that command will see through the list of qualification required by the Academy and see that I’m working as hard as I possibly can to do what I can get done.
I’ve now had the opportunity to meet the whole crew and I’ve already learned a ton from them! Specifically, I’ve worked extensively with BM3 Bryant in the operations department on navigation briefs, track lines, and aids to navigation planning. We got underway this past week and I got my first taste of what the black hull life is like. I was able to drive the ship through several buoy evolutions from start to finish as well as some restricted waters steaming, which were both great opportunities. My CO is absolutely awesome and I have a lot of leadership qualities to learn from him. If I could someday be an officer of his caliber, I would be a happy Coast Guardsman. Another thing we did over the course of the past week was an open house for the public. We moored up at sector and people came on board for tours. I thought that I would be able to offer little to the public as I had only been on board for a few days at that point, but was a huge asset in promoting the Academy. I had five or six individuals who were interested in attending the Academy approach me to ask questions and I did my best to give them some insight into what it’s like. I gave out my contact info to them and have actually been corresponding with a couple of them. On another note, I’ve been able to get off the ship a little bit and have seen the local beach and explored the area. St. Pete is a very nice area with great weather, but is pretty limited in terms of what there is to do. You can go to the beach during the day, or go to the bars at night, and since I’d rather not drink while I’m out by myself, I usually go back to the boat at night to work on qualifications and watch TV on the mess deck. There was a free concert one night that I went to; Bastille was playing in the local park for the public. Overall, week two has been a success and I’m starting to get more comfortable around the boat.
"Weekly 1/c Summer Reflection (Continued)
More about James.