Saturday, March 14, 2009

Anchors Aweigh!

"Anchors Aweigh my boys! Anchors Aweigh!
Farewell to college joys we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay!
Through our last night ashore, drink to the foam!
Until we meet again, here's wishing you a happy voyage home!"

If a bad day at sea is better than a great day ashore, what is a great day at sea worth?

We had a great sail from Baltimore to Norfolk yesterday. We shifted colors at 4:00am and was well on our way down the bay at daybreak!

It was early in the morning as we sailed past the Naval Academy on our way down the Chesapeake Bay. The sky was gray, the bay was calm and the temperature was in the low 30's.

I went down to our Hospital Admin department to see how things were going. Over the previous couple of days we had received the first 200 or our "Full Operating Status" crew and Admin was hard at work making sure everyone was properly checked in and accounted for.

Captain Anderson, our Director of Medical Services came by and announced that it was snowing outside! Me and snow? You know I had to go!

After I went outside to check out the snow, I swung by the bridge to see how things were progressing up there. Our ship is operated by a crew of professional civilian mariners. These men and women are civilian employees of the Navy who operate many of our supply ships, oilers, ammunition ships, and in our case, our Hospital ships. We have 69 Mariners aboard. They drive the ship, make the steam, make the water, make the electricity, process our sewage, dispose of our trash, etc. We may be a great hospital, but if you don't have steam, water, electricity or a toilet, your pretty much up the creek!

We had just past the mouth of the Potomac river. We were right on course, ahead of schedule!

Several hours later we approached Pier 14 at Naval Station Norfolk. With the help of some tugs, our ship's Master, Captain Tom Finger, expertly spun this 894 foot long ship on a dime and backed us into the South side of the pier. I was up in my stateroom as we started the turn and to my surprise, we had a neighbor on the North side of our Pier: The Mighty USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN 77). A good friend of mine is the Senior Medical Officer onboard BUSH! I called his cell phone and let him know we were in town! Next week, he and his folks will come tour the COMFORT and our folks will get a chance to tour the newest aircraft carrier in the fleet!

At about 8:00pm, all the work was done, the watchbill was posted, the crew was ready, and I announced "Liberty Call!" Thus ended our first day at sea!

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