04 April 2006

Hijinks, Fun, and excitement while ashore Part 1

I had been onboard USS Oldship for about a year and half. Survived the trials of the YARDS. Survived some TAD time to the galley, where I got very fat and then rotated back to my own workcenter. Passed an advancement test and was promoted to third class petty officer. An E-4 for you non-Navy folks, similar to a Corporal in the US Marines or Army. The plan is to cruise in the next year. Prior to that though we have to do various other underways for training periods. To do everything from test and eval the engineering folks (and since I was onboard a nuclear power ship, all the nuclear engineers). Flight deck certifactions, flight deck drills, open deck for the various RAGs and Training wings to produce those glourious men and women who want to fly out to who knows where and come back to a pitching, yawing, ship. Anyhow, you name a portion of the ship it was probably tested and trained and tested again. On top of that we also act as an opponent to a carrier already further along in the testing an training enviroment. So I dealt with doing these various underways. During one of them though where we are off the coast of Florida acting as a Orange Carrier to a blue Force, all the while bringing onboard T-2's and T-45's out of either Merdian or Pensacola; we hear great news. Port Visit! The minute that leaked out of the admirals mess it was on the mess decks of the ship and running from here to there on the ship. Everyone was talking about it and where we all might go. The rumor ran from the Keys over to Pensacola, and up to Jacksonville. While a few more adventurious folks were coming up with the US Virgin Islands or Bermuda. Now we have already been underway for the better part of 2 weeks and been underway since Labor day. So anywhere we go is after the big tourist season. It wasn't until another rumor hit on the phone lines during a GQ that everyone started to know where we going to pull into. Ft Laurderdale for thier fleet week.
I had personally nevery been there nor anyplace south of the I-10 line in Florida. So the thought of being in Ft. Laurderdale and the thought of going back to Florida in general excited me sort of.
Then came the killer about 96hrs before we pulled in. The Boy Captain had scheduled a "Captains Call". This is an event similar to a town meeting where the Captain, XO, CMC, and selected guests get a chance to meet with everyone onboard the ship and field questions. It was during this event that the Boy Captain had the Admiral onboard and put out that this was the first of possible multiple US and Carribean port visits. However, with cruise coming up all of these port visits would come with restrictions. That statement caused a number of the more jaded and salter heads in my workcenter pop up and actually pay attention, instead of the heated game of Spades they were playing.
Then the statement that caused a massive groan through out the ship, which even our submarine escort could of heard. "There will be Liberty experation while in this port visit to establish a tone for future CONUS and cruise ports."
WHAT! Liberty times! What the heck was that I asked.
It was explained to me by one of my more jaded and salter seconds," Southern, a Liberty time is when everyone is supposed to be back home on the ship or in thier hotel rooms. Normally it is done when your overseas and it is to make sure that everyone is behaving themselves and to get the duty section back onboard for tomorrow's duty. Never is it passed out on a port visit in North American let alone with in the borders of the US."
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