Almost a year-and one-half later from the start of his last deployment, guest correspondent, frequent commentator, and fellow naval aviation historian AT1 Charles Berlemann is at it again.Â This time though in a new squadron, embarked on a different ship and in a different AOR – the Pacific.Â Given the same issues as last time (limited bandwidth and no access to homesite) we’re providing an alternate site in the best manner of COOP (Continuity Of OPerations).Â For the rookies amongst us, the identifier for these posts will be “Postcards from Deployment” w/AT1 as the Guest Author.Â We, of course, wish him the best on this deployment, for safe and successful operations for him and his squadron/wing/shipmates – not without a twinge of jealousy (especially Skippy-san as AT1 is bound for his former haunting grounds on the other side of the International Dateline). – SJS
So here I am on day 5 of my first WestPac and it is radically different than doing a 2nd/6th Fleet deployment.
To start with we left on the 31st of July and had people manning the rails from the dock till just past Point Loma. Since then on the fly days there hasn’t been any remarks about closest diverts. Instead it reads “BLUE WATER OPS”.Â You know what that means, but for those of your readers who don’t understand what that means, basically the only place to land with your feet dry is back on the ship. (ed.Â Our motto in CVW-7 was “Trap or die” during blue water ops.Â Guess you had to be there…(North Atlantic) – SJS)
The second big thing — even though we have left the west coast,Â we are taking the tropical trade winds path up and around to our next port of call. So it has been warm and muggy the whole time. Kind of reminds me of the Norfolk area just before the heat of the summer hits or when the area has an Indian Summer. I have actually been away from my new wife and home since the 20th of July. We came down early, pulled out did the required CQ and then pulled back into San Diego to finish on loading some needed supplies. That is another change since I am used to CQ’ing all the way across the pond. The advantage is that we are all done with that and using the transit time to get caught up on Medical issues, aircraft maintenance, training, and paperwork. The CQ week was hard on us because right in the middle of it we had an airplane take a serious FOD hit to an engine and the same day the whole EA-6B fleet got hit with what is called a “red stripe” message downing us to check for a certain set of parts in a serial number range. It wasn’t that hard to do the inspection, but right in the middle of trying to CQ, twenty-four aircrew kind of makes life difficult. We survived that and now are just waiting on parts to catch up with us to finish off this engine installation.
I am sure some of your readers who may have slipped on over to read my blog wonder where I have been for the past eight months. It is a long and difficult story. Basically I checked into a new unit around December of 2008. Was assigned to work as the Support Equipment Asset Manager, Calibration Control Manager, and Tool Room LPO. I came into a work center that had been basically burned down to the ground that was still fighting hard to try and get out from under a twenty plus page audit for just the work center that was started back in October. It was about the same for the SE Asset Manager and Calibration Manager as well. On top of that I had to attend a couple of schools to hold my billets in accordance with a certain instruction called the CNAFINST 4790.2A Naval Aviation Maintenance Program, this instruction has been pared down since you were in to just one book of fifteen chapters. It defines the basics of how the paperwork behind aircraft maintenance is to be preformed. To understand how a program works, or how to fill out a certain piece of paperwork, or why a certain body needed to fill a certain billet; the NAMP tells you. Anyhow, while trying to get that cleared up; my type wing commander preformed an audit. This was all ultimately leading to an audit by Chief Naval Air Forces in April while we were on det. I was putting in long, long hours trying to get these various discrepancies fixed. I was also cleaning house personnel wise. I had to take to Captain’s Mast three bodies for a number of reasons. Primarily being they just failed to get jobs done that I assigned them and gave me back talk as to why. One of them I discharged as well because he was a lush. Actually showed up to work drunk and then proceeded to do a liquid lunch for a number of weeks before I caught on. It was a whole bunch of stress. I am finally able to get far enough out of the spot light to make things calm down around me. So putting in these long hours kept me from posting deep thoughts about my career, the world, and various historical tidbits that I thought of from time to time.
Home life is going good with the new wife. She is doing well at her job. The biggest obstacle we are facing right now is trying to integrate our lives together. Basically, I am doing the geo-bachelor thing and spending the weekends making a two hour drive down to her house. We are eventually going to move together, but it just means trying to find something in-between our commutes which works. Also having enough room for family expansion that comes from being married. So that is it for right now out here.