Well, first I need to share what's been going on for the last month. Around the time of my last posts I was at home (yes ... in the middle of deployment) waiting for my dear husband to return home from his deployment. My command allowed me to take leave to fly back home for a short period of time to see Justin. On the other side of the coin, he was allowed to get off the boat two days early since their homecoming date got pushed back four days (leaving us with about a day and a half together). So between the two commands we got to have four days together :). I had to fly out again on Christmas Day but we got to do our presents and hang out and even go to church together on Christmas Eve (you can probably count the number of times we went to church together in 2008 on two hands). Justin is enjoying his stand down and only having to be at the boat on duty days (for the most part). I'm enjoying the fact that communications are not hampered by XX ft of water.
Since I've been back to the ship, the major event that we have had is a change of command. (For you non-military types ... it's exactly what it sounds like ... a new Captain has assumed command of the ship and our old Captain headed back home). Of course this is somewhat unusual to do in the middle of deployment, but if that's when they rotate, that's when they rotate. It was definitely a laid back change of command. The uniform was coveralls or flight suits (typically it's at least a dress uniform such as summer whites or service dress blues). One benefit of being underway for the change of command. In addition, we will be getting a new executive officer (the second in command) shortly. So the command environment will be different when we return from when we left.
We have been keeping busy with various exercises. For the most part, it's somewhat boring and really turns into Groundhog's Day. So to break things up we do things like the "Arabian Gulf Games" which is a chance for the departments to compete against each other in various physical activities such as volleyball, soccer, dodgeball, tug-o-war, kickball and basketball. Yes, there is enough room to do some version of these activities on my ship. Most of the events were held in the well deck (where the LCACs (landing craft air cushion) and other amphibious vehicles are kept when embarked).
Today we had a DC (Damage Control) Olympics. It was a competition between the repair lockers (and a team from the staff) at various DC events. Repair lockers are a GQ (general quarters) station. When there is a fire, flooding, or other emergency, the equipment to fight the casualty can be found in the repair lockers. General quarters is a condition we go to in case of emergency (whether a main space (propulsion spaces) fire or an imminent attack). The repair lockers allow for damage control efforts to be organized. There are ten lockers on board my ship (due to its size). We competed in races to done FFE (fire fighting ensemble) and SCBA (the breathing apparatus), pipe patching, finding a fallen shipmate in an area that was dark and smoky and various other events. Each of the lockers was well represented. I believe my locker ended up right in the middle of the pack, which made me happy since during most of our drills, we aren't really involved. My locker provides the 5th or 6th relief team in case of a main space. Hopefully I have explained everything well, I know a lot of the terms will not be familiar to those not in the Navy.
We are past the halfway point and on the downward slope. I am looking forward to being home again. I hope the new year is treating everyone well. God Bless!