>Life underway on the Munro

> My name is Heath Smith. I am a Boatswains Mate, First Class in charge of Deck Force aboard the USCGC Munro. I have been in the Coast Guard for ten years and I have been on the Munro almost two and half years.

To be completely honest, getting underway is not my favorite thing about the Coast Guard. Getting underway takes me away from my wife and young son for most of the year and it is a hardship to spend so much time away from them.

However, getting underway also gives me a chance to experience things I would never be able to experience otherwise and learn more about myself, my job and my shipmates.
In Busan, South Korea, we played soccer against two teams composed of Korean Coast Guard members. The Korean Coast Guardsmen seemed impressed by our ability to work as a team and our energy.

Playing soccer also allowed us to learn more about each other. The athletic environment really helped the crew to relax and talk to one another.

I think out of all the places I went, my favorite was Mt. Fuji in Japan. It felt good to get outside off the boat and away from the major population centers. It was a very unique Japanese experience in my mind and gave me a chance to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Mt. Fuji was also a very beautiful place. It was apparent that it was an important landmark for the people of Japan from the well-maintained trails, rest stops and guide signs.

During this patrol I was also able to get qualified as an underway Officer of the Day, or OOD. This qualification is not common for a first class aboard a 378-foot cutter like the Munro. Getting qualified OOD is usually reserved for officers and chiefs. It was a long and difficult process, mostly because of the sheer volume of information that I was required to learn. Despite the difficulties I had, I managed to muscle my way through it and get qualified in about ten weeks.

Getting qualified as an OOD will help me be prepared for other jobs in the Coast Guard once after completing my tour on the Munro. I’m hoping to get an XPO position at a small boat station or ANT Team billet where my experience as a qualified underway OOD will be very beneficial.

One of the biggest challenges I faced underway was the transfer of Deck Force personnel. A lot of the guys I depended on for leadership left for “A” School and a lot of new Seaman came in to take their place. It’s hard to suddenly have a handful of inexperienced, unqualified new Seaman on your hands instead of the experienced and knowledgeable people you’re used to working with.

However there are a lot of experienced and dedicated members of Deck Force ready to step up and take active roles, and a few of the new Seaman have really dug into their qualifications and are knocking them out at an impressive rate.

Right now, as the patrol comes to an end, my main focus is getting home to my wife and son. I am looking forward to having a few days off after such a long patrol and to be able to spend the coming holidays with them is very exciting. As much as I may see or learn or experience underway, nothing compares to being home with my family.