Monday, December 27, 2010
It only took about 5 years, but the Yankee winter finally followed me to Virginia! All is fine here - but for those of you who've been wondering, here's my official report to the NHS leadership:
Gentlemen of the Board of Directors and NHS Leaders, On December 26 I implemented the Severe Weather Response Plan at the Dockyard to deal with heavy snow fall and high winds. Approximately 13" of snow and 35 knot winds were observed. This morning, conditions allow me to stand down the Severe Weather Response. Follow-up actions will continue as noted.
All boats and facilities are currently in good order and no damage was sustained. The following conditions were addressed during the response:
The cover of Monomoy No. 1 collects snow and begins to sag, putting a severe strain on the fittings and cover itself. This was addressed by removing the snow from the cover every other hour while the snow was falling.
The tarp tents covering Monomoy Nos. 2 and 3 did not collect much snow, thanks to the steep angle of the sides. The snow collecting near the bottom of the sides, however, posed a threat as the weight of the snow buildup acting on the sides caused the tarps to be placed under tension. This was addressed by sweeping the snow away from the edges every other hour while the snow was falling, an effort that continues at eight hour intervals due to blowing snow drifting at the bases.
The plastic covering on the lean-to attached to the rear of the framing bay held up well under the weight of the snow with no signs of the cover weakening or giving way. Snow buildup was removed as a preventative measure every six hours.
Due to the impassable or dangerous conditions on local roadways, I acted alone in executing these actions. However, a plan needs to be implemented in the future to provide constant attention to the boats and facilities in the event of my absence during future implementations of this plan. Additionally, lead time in implementing the response was about 6 hours, however no communication was sent out to local members seeking assistance nor announcing that the Severe Weather Plan was in effect, as the conditions of the roads did not permit safe travel to my assistance, nor was assistance absolutely required.
Respectfully submitted, WRK
I'm going back out to play with the dog in the snow and clear off my front sidewalk!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
This weekend at the Dockyard, I'm still clearing up from Great Bridge and getting Monomoy No. 1 stowed for the winter. Some severe weather might keep me locked inside for a while, so standby for possible weekend updates!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Merchant Mariners have higher professional training and licensing standards than the Navy. Hands down. My lowly third mate's license and 1-2 years of concentrated study at sea gave me a significant leg up, not only in ship handling and management but also in seagoing culture, that my USNA and NROTC colleagues didn't have. I subsequently qualified OOD and SWO much MUCH faster than people I truly believe to be my intellectual equals or betters. The Navy's belief in on-the-job training can only go so far.
The Merchant Marine doesn't seem to overburden its people with collateral duties that significantly detract from the time they spend doing their actual jobs in the shipboard environment. That's not to say damage control (DC) and force protection (FP), but mess cranking and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) are two severe detractors.
And perhaps most importantly, Merchant Marine officers generally have no shortage of highly experienced professional mentors ready at hand. I have served under some great officers in the Navy, but very few that I didn't feel were somehow scrambling to get by. There was a certain cool professionalism in many of my Merchant Marine mentors, as if their years of experience had really given them great preparation to do their jobs well. I've seen that a few times in the Navy, but I don't feel that it is by any means prevalent.
A well regulated and governed Navy - any professional military organization for that matter -should embody three things:
- well prepared, flexible combat units that are equally capable of performance in routine and irregular conditions,
- efficient and self-sufficient sustainability and survivability in regular and combat operation, and
- a disciplined corps of professional personnel dedicated to preservation and exemplification of the previous two principles.
It seems to me that the Navy is giving up on all three principles when it considers proposals like this one. There was a time when our officers were well rounded seagoing professionals - at sea because they chose to be and not because it was the only career progression open to them in a bad economy. There was a time when our crews were composed of proud Sailors, each a technical expert in some realm of the operation of their command, and king of some small patch of deckplate because it had their name beside "POIC" (Petty Officer In Charge) on the bulkhead. We had great schools, bred fantastically efficient personnel who cared - deeply - about what they did. What happened?
I can't propose a solution to this that anyone might take seriously. But what I can say is that it is my sincere hope to take the best of what the Navy is and has been - including the legacy of pride in efficiency and readiness - and put it into NHS. Someday, we will build a world-class organization, even if it is very small. Our boats can and will be a hallmark of these traits, and show off in some small measure the pride we have in being Sailors.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
As we roll into the winter maintenance season, we're experiencing a great test of the "oh yeah, they're fine outdoors" principle of work to continue on all three Monomoy Pulling Boats. No. 1 is currently at home on her trailer, and there is no reason to expect she'll be shifted. The trailer itself is too wide to be shifted into the Framing Bay (aka my detached garage) and so she has few options other than living in the weather. As it is, she weathered last winter rather well, so I don't expect her to need a warmer home. Monomoys No. 2 and 3 spent the last year in an unheated hold of the Training Ship (T/S) Empire State VI, and so the cold there isn't much of a factor to their stability, but humidity and moisture is. There, I'm not entirely sure they'll be as fine as I hope resting outside under ventilated tarp tents. We have the option of moving one of them into the Framing Bay, but doing so severely restricts our available indoor shop space - as we saw with the Launch. And it still leaves the sister out in the weather.
And of course, just as important than the structural stability of our boats is the health, safety and comfort of the volunteers working on them. I received complaints about working in the cold weeks ago - long before the seriously biting cold - and I won't pretend I'm not concerned about driving them away with crappy working conditions.
So, what to do?
I've been thinking about heaters and the like - something that can temporarily heat the working areas to make them comfortable while work progresses. Kerosene outdoor heaters are available, and can be had at reasonable prices in used condition. Depending on how 'used' they are, we could make that a serviceable option. I am slightly concerned about having temperatures too warm, lest the wood in the boats dry too rapidly - or the cheap tarp covers begin to melt. We'll have to tread carefully on that one, and mitigate the effects as we go.
I've also been considering making detached work of various projects. If we can take pieces to heated facilities such as the Navy carpentry shop, isn't that better? It is a distinct possibility, but I know that the majority of work must take place in or near the boats. Frames, for instance, are bent most efficiently in the boats. But projects such as our stem and sternpost replacements can most certainly be shipped off somewhere else. In fact, we planned on making use of the better tools in the carpentry shop anyway.
All in all, I think we will have some bitter cold days where copious cursing and numb extremities prevail. But I hope that with some careful planning we can mitigate those frustrations as we go.
Or, as a last stopgap measure, we could just sacrifice the marines. They're used to freezing their tookasses off.
I remember a 19th century poem "Into my heart's treasury, I slipped a coin, that time cannot take nor a thief purloin. Oh, better than the minting of a gold crowned king, is the safe kept memory of a lovely thing!" For those who were fortunate enough to be at the camp fire sat evening, in the falling snow, you
can well understand! Good company, a falling snow and while outrageous lies and war stories were told some efforts at humor, feeble tho' they were, did bring laughs. All in all, an evening to be treasured. Apologies to all who missed this jewel of an evening!
It will certainly enter my memory as one of the great moments.
More about this past weekend's event as the official after action reports come in.