Time is getting short! The Final Planning Conference is over! Our 176 guests have gone their separate ways, and we are counting down the final days to our deployment!
Tomorrow starts the first day of our activation process. We will be having approximately 100 people check aboard tomorrow. These are our non-medical support staff: Electronics technicians, Information Systems Technicians, Culinary Specialists, Ship's Servicement, Postal Clerks, etc. We will welcome them aboard, get them checked in, assign them berthing and get them started to work. Tomorrow our Communications Center starts 24 hour/7 days a week operations. Some of our crew will start sleeping on the ship starting tomorrow night.
This is exciting. For the last two years, the ship has been in what's called Reduced Operating Status. While in ROS, the crew consists of only 60 active duty and 18 civilian mariners. We keep things running and plan for the day that we're activated and bring in the other 90% of our crew. Well, tomorrow starts that process! By tomorrow night we'll be nearly 200 strong, and by the time we deploy on Friday, we'll have over 300 people aboard. The rest of our crew will join us in Norfolk and by the time April 1st rolls around and we start our mission, we will have over 850 people aboard representing all of our services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Public Health Service, Coast Guard), representatives from about five non-governmental organizations (Project Hope, UCSD Pre-Dental Society, Operation Smile, FACE, and Latter-Day Saints Ministries), and people from five other nations who are joining us on this mission (Canada, Netherlands, Great Brittan, France, Chile).
Tomorrow's a big day! Let the fun begin!