08 August 2007

Shore Patrol with foregin sailors

So while out the powers to be in large and charge of the battle group decided to pull into a US port. Then we pretend it was a foreign port. What port did they decided one, Ft. Lauder dale. Been there done that told the story of being there a few years back to some of the guys I was working with. Some of them believed them some of them didn't. That is the joy of telling a sea story.

We find out that instead of going pier side we will be moored out and have to ride liberty launches in. No biggie. The watch bill gets posted a few days before and I find out that during a five day day port visit I draw duty twice. First and last day, again no biggie and the only time I have watch is the first day which is at the casino in town. Yes, dear readers the same casino that a celebrity died in just a few months back. I have the last watch on that day which is awesome. Why? Mainly, because I get a chance to skate back out of work and head to the rack, so that I can grab some extra shut eye. So it goes that we pull up to the beach front of Ft. Lauderdale around 0800 in the morning and after helping to complete an inspection on one of the aircraft, I rolled on down to grab lunch and then grabbed some shut eye. Woke up just before I had to go and stand the watch. Assigned the 1900 to 0200 shore patrol, because we are moored out and it was about 45 minute ride out on the launch. So I have to be down to muster at 1700 in the Hangar bay in a my working whites. Go mustered up with the shore patrol team and then wait for the launch to arrive at the ship. Spend a few moments on the phone with the romantic interest and then with the folks, while on the launch heading off to the beach. We arrived at the cruise terminals in town and see that the a couple of our escorts were tied up pier side and one Her Majesty's Ships, the HMS Manchester.

After arriving where they set up fleet landing, walked over to where the shore patrol team HQ was. Got the brief from the shore patrol leader about what our responsibilities were. Same thing as always, keep our people safe and try and prevent problems. I was told that I was the senior man of the team and was supposed to be leading the team hanging out at the casino. Found out there was no bus and we were going to be dropped off in a rental van. The best part to date was given a map that had been photocopied way too many times and try and give directions to a F-18 fighter jock. We would have gotten there about 20minutes later if he had just listen to the navigator, but those single seat jockeys just can't listen to anyone giving them directions while sitting in the seat next to them. We arrive and find the earlier SP team standing out front. Sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the tourists in their skimpy clothes or really bad and loud Hawaiian shirts.
Everyone piled out of the van, we then proceed to do turn over with the on coming folks and begin our walk around. The funniest thing was that when we checked in with hotel and casino security staff we were told this, "Your who and why are you here?" The head honcho told us in a tone that made us feel real welcome.
All six of us on this shore patrol party were hungry. A couple of guys went off to try the buffet, myself and two others went off to check out some bar-b-que joint. It was funny, because we were wearing our whites and they seem to attract all sorts of stains, even if you are sitting in an all white room some how some way you get some sort of stain on it. Anyhow, we sat down grabbed a bite of eat. I polished off a plate of gator tails and deep fat fried frog legs. One of the guys with me was a brand new petty officer and still new to the Navy. He ordered a pulled pork sandwich. The first bite in just dripped meat and sauce all over him. We all got a good laugh about it and luckily for him the bar keep gave us some soda water to mop out the stain. It didn't come out completely and made for a good way to give the new guy some ribbing as we walked around.
At this hotel and casino there was an outdoor shopping center and party block. On the outside near the hotel was a few family friendly restaurants and shopping block, but further near the back and closer to the actual casino area was the club block. The club block was composed of about eight to nine different up scale clubs of all different themes. That is where we spent most of the night. Bouncing from club to club, watching people spend their money and making sure that what few sailors that showed up were not causing problems.
It was pretty good for the first couple of hours. I think I spent more time getting my picture shot with pretty girls that night. It also seemed as thought I couldn't buy a drink either, all of us had to refuse what most people wanted to do, which was buy us a shot or a glass of beer. We had to refuse, so it was ice water or a soda. Plenty of hand shakes and congrats, which made a few of us coming from military unfriendly towns feel that warm and fuzzy.
The best part of the night was that we ran into a roving shore patrol team from the Royal Navy ship about 2100 (or 9 pm for you military types). By roving they were authorized a vehicle and traveled where the major tourist spots were to make sure their lads were not getting in trouble. Once these guys found out that the place was filled with hot women who loved sailors in their uniforms. Well, their car "broke down" :). I spent the rest of the night walking around enjoying the sights and talking with this Brit. We talked about everything from how much is sucks being away from home to how awful a few of our officers were. It seems as though things are as common no matter what military you are in. That it sucks to be away from your home and family, some of the officers are good and some you wonder how they made it out of the womb, the ship sucks, and liberty is good in any port near the equator during the summer time. The most amazing thing though was how after watching a few of these Brits in action with regards to a few of their rowdy people, which wasn't many, all it took was the stare or a sharp word and the guy knocked it off. Most of the US sailors were a little harder to control, but even then there wasn't any incidents the first night from off the carrier. Only a guy off a US destroyer got in trouble because he couldn't handle his liquor and his tongue.

Overall a successful night and a good first night in town, even if it was the duty day.

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