And we're off!!! Continuing Promise 2009 is underway!!
We left Naval Station Norfolk at about 11:00am on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 and headed out into the Atlantic ocean, bound for Miami, Florida!
I said goodbye to the love of my life that morning on the pier. It is so hard to say good-bye! Debbie dropped me off in the morning and headed home to Maryland to help our daughter, Shannon, start painting the house they purchased on Tuesday! Congratulations Shannon on your new home! It will be a great place for Trey and Izzy to grow up, and I'm so glad that Debbie was there to help you get ready for the big move!
Debbie knew that she needed to get right on the road early in the morning to make it home in time to help Shannon, but it was so great that she was able to come down here with me for three nights before I got underway! And a big Thank You goes out to Justin and Shannon King for watching Ruffy for us while Deb was in Virginia!
There weren't a lot of people on the pier to say good-bye to us, but Debbie arranged for some dear friends of ours from the Tidewater area to be there to wish me well! Thank you Beth and kids for making my send-off very special! And thank you Debbie for making it all happen!
As we headed out to sea, we passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, effectively marking the boundry between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Then comes the obligatory "Abandon Ship" drill, where we all pretend we're screaming and gather on the flight deck, kind of like the last part in Titanic, just before the ship sank! This picture is of me, my boss (CAPT Ware), the mission commander, Commodore Lineberry, and his Chief of Staff, CDR Scott Battle.
Then it came time to prepare for the arrival of our helicopters. Shown in this picture is the flight-deck crew preparing for the arrival of our two MH-60 helicopters from HSC-26 out of Norfolk, VA. The detachment aboard USNS COMFORT have created their own special patch to signify this deployment. They are called "The Witchdoctors of USNS COMFORT" I'll try to get a picture of their patch in the days ahead!
April 1st is the birthday of the Chief Petty Officer community. We had a celebration with an AWESOME cake, baked especially for the occasion by our Culinary Specialists aboard! 116 years of tradition! Hammered into place, one nail at a time by our Command Master Chief, who was there from the beginning!
I thought our day getting underway was a long one, but that was only a precursor to what lie ahead! Typically my day starts at 6:00am when reville is sounded throughout the ship: "Reville, Reville, All Hands Turn To." It typically ends about an hour after Taps (10:00pm) and it's usually about 11:30pm by the time I hit the rack.
As long as those days are, it seems like they fly by. Before I even know it, it's lunchtime. Dinner is here before I know it, and one of the biggest challenges I find is in getting to evening "Chow" before the galley closes! I'm afraid I'm going to whither away to nothing! (Probably won't happen on this cruise!)
Oh well, CP-09 has begun and that means every day in is one day closer to the end! Here's a picture that shows some of the 550 pallets of donated material we are taking with us! Everyplace that we can stick pallets inside is full, so the Mariners along with our Marine Load Master, put a hundred or so pallets on the storeroom roof!