I was just looking through old photos, and it made me very nostalgic. I realized I’ve done some pretty cool things, especially during my military years. I figured I’d take a moment and share some of them with you guys. (in other words, I’m taking a trip down memory lane, and I guess I’ll invite you on the journey!)
I went underway with the USS Missouri. Twice. (Underway is a Naval term meaning a ship is no longer at port, or in layman’s terms: out to sea.) The USS Missouri (nicknamed “Mighty Mo”) is the USN battleship that is most famously known as the site of Japan’s surrender during WWII, and was the last battleship in the Navy to be decommissioned. It is now located at Pearl Harbor, and serves as a memorial museum.
Needless to say, since 1992 when Mighty Mo was decommissioned, it’s been pretty impossible to go “underway” on her. However, in 2009, the ship needed to transfer to dry-dock for repairs. Several units in Oahu were contacted asking for volunteers as line-handlers to help the historical ship cross the Harbor to the Naval dry-docks located at Naval Base Pearl Harbor. I immediately volunteered. This was, after all, a
once twice (once for the journey into dry-dock, and once again for the return) in a lifetime opportunity!
So my best friend Ally and I got up long before the sun and made our way to the ship. Obviously I have issues with caking on makeup when getting ready that early….
We arrived at the USS Missouri, and had some time to meet up friends and chat for a few minutes before they broke us up into line handling groups and gave us instructions. (These were sorely needed, since the last time I had any line handling training was in boot camp, almost 5 years earlier!)
Once we were away from the pier, we were pretty much on our own to entertain ourselves. They had some of the museum tour guides on board, so we got a free tour (although the artifacts usually on display weren’t on the ship, for preservation reasons!). I had been to the USS Arizona memorial before, but never the USS Missouri. It was a beautiful day on the water, and even though the trip across the Harbor was quick (30-45 minutes if I recall correctly.) it was an amazing experience. Once we arrived at the dry dock, that’s when things went down hill.
It took about 8 hour (I think, though it may have been longer) for the ship to get settled into the dry-dock and for the water to be pumped out, and we couldn’t leave until it was finished. We were extremely unprepared for this, since we had only about 12 hours notice we were even doing this. (Literally, my supervisor had called me at home the night before!) We had no food, no drinks, nothing to sit on, no shade. There was a small portion of the inside of the ship we were allowed, but most of it was deemed off limits, since there was no electricity, and it was deemed a safety hazard. We did manage to entertain ourselves. Adapt and overcome, right?! ;)
They did send up some chips and bottled water from the pier at one point, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Basically, we all got a nice lesson in the Navy’s unofficial motto:
All in all, it was a fantastic experience that got this Sailor out from behind a computer screen and on a ship. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Luckily, it was only a few short weeks (or months…) until they were requesting volunteers again for the return home. I didn’t even hesitate before signing my name up! :)