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Location: TUCSON, Arizona, United States

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sea Legs

Thursday, September 13, 2007 07:44
USS Cole – Off UK W coast 49°02 N 19°30 W

By 1200 today the ship’s average NE course will take us approximately 40nm W of the Isles of Scilly. Too far to see. On clear days the horizon at sea is about 10nm away. I’m hoping when we pass to the E of the Isle of Man it will be within range. I’ve forgotten how far out in the Irish Sea it is from the English coast. More likely, first landfall will be the W coast of Scotland, which we will reach tonight, entering the Firth of Forth. The torturous approach to the River Clyde and eventual pierside will take place Friday morning at sunup and occupy a couple of hours, according to the most experienced hand amongst the crewmembers who are my students. So the ship is scheduled to be moored outboard of another of the destroyers in the squadron—the Elrod, I believe—by around 0930. From what I recollect, the process of securing from sea and anchor and otherwise preparing the ship for port will take until noon. Perhaps I can leave the ship before then, or whenever the gangways are in place.

I anticipate more than the usual clumsiness when first setting foot on stable land again. Seas have not seemed to me remarkably rough on this passage, but there is certainly plenty of ship’s motion. I feel much less engaged than I was aboard the Emory S. Land. It may be familiarity. I know how the courses will go now, and I’m already anticipating concluding the process.

The emphasis aboard a warship on preparedness for engagement—especially the continuous stream of information fed to the complicated and darkened Combat Operations room—added to the myriad tasks of maintaining the ship and practicing for emergencies, leaves little room even for sleep, let alone reflection. Even when my students report that in fact simple duties like promptly relieving the watch and recording and transmitting orders and position are regularly, if not constantly, ignored or performed inadequately, it’s clear there’s not much time for anything else to occupy their minds. Nor do most of them appear to know it. In this they don’t differ at all from the general population. But they’re busier.


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