Dear family and friends,
It has been awhile since the last update and a lot has happened in that time. Our short month back in Seattle was spent preparing for our Tailored Annual Cutter Training (TACT), spending 14 days engaged in TACT, and then preparing for our summer mission.
After getting to spend 4th of July weekend in Seattle, the crew departed Pier 36 on 6 July. The departure left us with a busy 5 day transit to Seward, AK. Flight operations were conducted with Air Stations Port Angeles, WA and Sitka, AK. Our new crew spent the majority of the 5 days going through DC College, which is a crash course in basic damage control on board HEALY. We had a record 40 members in this year’s course, illustrating the immense change of crew that happened over the summer. Once again, the course was a success with members getting hands-on training with pipe patching, starting a P-100 pump, and using firefighting equipment. The two Honor Graduates of the class were BM2 McCann and ET3 Adams.
Our transit also offered us the opportunity to get some fishing in before we started our science mission. The whole crew from non-rates to the XO were enjoying some quality time catching fish. There was enough fish caught to fill up one of our small freezer boxes.
During our time in Seward, the crew of the MUSTANG, homeported in Seward, and the American Legion hosted the crew for a delicious meal and the Ultimate Fighting Championship on TV that occurred our first night inport. Everyone had a great time, especially with the karaoke that quickly followed the main event. Our first visit as a cutter to Seward was definitely a success, with so many activities including visiting Exit Glacier and the Sea Life Aquarium.
After departing Seward, we had a quick trip to Dutch Harbor that was filled mainly with training and preparations for the oncoming scientists. The day before mooring, the crew gathered to honor BMC Kidd in his retirement. Chief Kidd retired after serving over 20 years in the Coast Guard and the Army. In a style befitting Chief Kidd’s personality, the ceremony attire was Hawaiian shirts and followed with a cookout on the flight deck. BMC was honored with a Coast Guard Commendation Medal, a Presidential Letter of Appreciation, the Commandant’s Certificate of Retirement, a shadow box, and an engraved golf club from the deck division.
While Dutch Harbor was a logistical stop that included the on-load of fuel and supplies and some necessary maintenance on some critical engineering equipment, the crew was able to enjoy some time away from the ship. On Friday, 17 July, ENS Dolton, ENS Myatt, and ENS Schendorf hosted a party for the crew at a local restaurant in honor of their survival of the first year as officers and their selection for LTJG this coming November. The Morale Committee also hosted their traditional Dutch Harbor softball game with the Engineers facing the Support/Operations departments. The Support/Operations team avenged their loss from the last trip in Dutch Harbor.
In a rare, glassy calm day in the Bering Sea, we were able to anchor off Nome and launch our landing craft to send the crew to shore for a couple of hours. As the ending point for the Iditarod and a gold rush locale, the area was rich with history. The short time there allowed the crew to enjoy one last walk ashore for the next almost 2 months and a unique side of Alaska we had yet to encounter. It also provided us with one last opportunity to use our cell phones to call our loved ones.
Soon, we were off Barrow conducting flight ops with our now familiar Maritime Helicopter, 6MH. It was here that the crew said goodbye to the 11 cadets who had joined us in May and helped supplement the crew throughout TACT and the busy inport in preparations for this summer trip. This also marked the beginning of AWS0904, with the new science party quickly settling in and picking up where we left off this time last summer.
On Tuesday, two Navy Admirals, the Chief of Naval Research and the Oceanographer of the Navy, joined the crew for a two day crash course in HEALY and the science conducted just North of Barrow. The Navy has a vested interest in the work done in the Arctic, particularly this mission as they helped fund part of the research. The trip afforded the crew and the science party the opportunity to give the Admirals a much better impression of what we are up to and the difficulties of working in the Arctic than they would receive simply from a PowerPoint presentation.
This past week has been a fast past one, with multiple mooring recoveries and deployments happening each day and Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) profiler casts occurring throughout the night. Each mooring recovery requires the assistance of the small boat to connect the mooring to the ship so the scientists can pull the mooring to the deck. This week we returned to Barrow and transferred science personnel to begin AWS-0905.
This summer’s transfer season brought over 40 new crewmembers to our ship and caused us to lose approximately the same amount. While we said goodbye to our shipmates who had spent significant time with us, working together as a team, we are eager to welcome our new shipmates to our unique Arctic family. This summer has started out strong and I look forward to updating you each week on where we are and what we are doing.
Until Next Week,
ENS Tara Schendorf
Public Affairs Officer