>Life as a Deck Boatswain Mate Chief on Alex Haley for a day


0300 – The boatswain mate of the watch (BMOW) knocks on my rack and follows it up with “Chief, next watch, are you awake?” I answer “Yes, thanks for the wake up”. I crawl out of my warm rack and start getting dressed for my first OOD watch aboard Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley and it starts on the bridge at 0330.

0315 – I am in the Chief’s Mess now looking for my coffee cup so I can enjoy a cup of coffee before heading to watch. Coffee is one of the most essential food items aboard any ship. I pour my cup of coffee, sit down, enjoy a few moments of piece and quiet, and check my e-mail hoping that our internet connection allowed my wife’s e-mails to get to my inbox. We have underway connectivity but sometimes we lose it for hours so our e-mail communication with home is behind by several hours.

0320 – Time to go. I finish my coffee and head out of the Chief’s Mess to conduct my pre-watch round.

0330 – I am on the bridge now getting my eyes adjusted to the lack of light due to the sun still being below the horizon. Once my eyes are fully adjusted to the darkness I make contact with the mid-watch OOD Ensign Gilbert to start the relief of the watch. We discuss vessel contact information, engine plant status, generator status, the ship’s course and speed, any pertinent info from his watch, etc. Once we talk about everything necessary to relive the watch I make my way around the bridge saying good morning to my watch section, checking the radars for contacts, checking the radio’s volume and squelch levels, etc. Now I am ready to relieve the watch so I get with Mr. Gilbert again and say, “I offer my relief of the deck and the conn”. He responds with “I stand relieved of the deck and conn”. My first qualified OOD watch begins.

0340 – I am on watch now as the OOD, following the commanding officer’s night orders looking for fishing vessels, ensuring the ship is navigating safely, and the crew is safe.

0645 – The BMOW pipes Reveille for the crew. “Reveille, Reveille, Reveille, Up, Up, All hands, Heave out, Trice up, Now 0645 Reveille.” I am glad now that the rest of the crew is up enjoying the morning with me and my watch section.

0725 – Ensign Tomlin is on the bridge now starting his relief process and soon my OOD watch will be over. It is still dark out since sunrise is not until 0906. My first OOD watch ends.

0745 – I am off watch now and in the chief’s mess again enjoying my breakfast of three eggs over medium, two sausage patties and some hash browns that the cooks made for me. I find my coffee cup once again and refill it with fresh coffee that the mess cooks made. I was starving.

0800 – I get a phone call from BM2 Crockett reporting all hands in Deck force are present or accounted for. We discuss the day’s events, personnel issues, and today‘s work list. The workday begins.

1000 – I am now in the wardroom with the operations officer & BMC Derrik Magnuson discussing our plan for an upcoming man overboard drill planned for 1030. We come up with a plan and I am off to get Oscar (simulated victim) from the hanger to stage him for the drill.

1025 – I am on station on the flight deck awaiting the call from operations via handheld radio to throw Oscar over the side so that we can start our drill.

1030 – I throw Oscar over the flight deck nets into the water. The lookout on the flying bridge spots him going over and reports it to the bridge. The ship maneuvers to pick up Oscar and I proceed to the forecastle to act as a safety supervisor and grade the response of the ship’s force in reaction to the man over board drill.

1115 – Drill complete and gear is stowed and I lay back to the wardroom to debrief and grade the man overboard drill with the operations officer and Derrik. The crew did a good job and successfully retrieved Oscar.

1130 – Time for lunch. I get to the chow line, get my food, and head to the chief’s mess. The rest of the chiefs are there as well and we catch up on today’s events. Some of them are heading to watch or coming off watch so we make room for each other due to the limited seating at the table and enjoy friendly conversations and watch a little TV. We have TV underway provided by the Armed Forces Network (AFN) but sometimes due to our course, it does not work. I guess even satellite TV has some limitations.

1230 – I get on the computer to check my e-mails and send a quick e-mail home.

1245 – Officers and chiefs call in the wardroom and then off to the fantail for quarters.
1300 – Quarters is where we all gather together and discuss things that are for all hands and present awards, advancements, etc. Once the all hands stuff is passed, we break up into departments and discuss our deck stuff.
1330 – Quarters is over now and I head back to the chief’s mess to get ready for a damage control/fire fighting drill that was in the plan of the day scheduled to start around 1400.
1405 – The general alarm sounds. The bridge pipes “Now there is a fire in laundry, man your general emergency stations”. I make my way to my repair locker which is repair #2, setting zebra along the way. repair #2 is responsible for damage forward of frame 21 and guess what, laundry is forward of frame 21.
1500 – Drill is complete and gear is stowed so I head back to the chief’s mess to check to see if I have any e-mails that need attending.
1520 – I head once again on my pre-watch round as I have OOD watch starting at 1530.

1535 – My second qualified OOD watch begins. There are several contacts on the radar so it should make for a busy watch.
1600 – The workday ends.
1700 – The evening meal is served. I get relieved from the bridge, lie below, and enjoy the evening meal. It is ravioli, mixed vegetables, salad bar, and desert of the day.
1720 – I head to the bridge to get back to my OOD watch.
1935 – My second qualified OOD watch ends.
2000 – I am back in the chief’s mess watching TV with the rest of the chiefs and once the computer is free, I check my e-mail. The ship shows movies on the ship’s entertainment system that we get from the Navy motion picture service. Tonight movie is “Iron man”. What a good movie.
2030 – Time to hit the rack (get to bed) because my day starts all over again at 0300 as I head back to the bridge for watch. Sounds like boardings are on the plan of the day tomorrow, which means another busy day aboard Alex Haley as the deck department boatswain mate chief!
By: BMC Ryan Craven