I was an AT-SEA Boatswain’s Mate in the [B]NAVY /B with thirteen years aboard ships, I had finally put it together so I could train on [B]NAVY[/B] tugs (YTBs); in this case in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. I had left my last ship ([B]LSD37 PORTLAND[/B]) with a pretty decent reputation and was looking forward to pursuing the dream.
Arrival at Shore Duty did NOT go as I had thought. Again, I was an at-sea BM1 and shore duty just did not fit. As a possible Tugmaster Trainee I was kind of in limbo being tossed from ferries to tugs and back. Trying to navigate the political lay of the land was difficult at best, my shirts weren’t creased enough and my vocabulary was, shall we say, colorful.
Superbowl weekend 1998 ( I had been in PR now for almost 2 months). [B] LSD37 PORTLAND[/B] arrives in Roosey Roads for some Liberty that Friday. Everyone I knew aboard was aware of my desire to go YTBs and perhaps Enlisted Navy Harbor Pilot and that THAT was why I chose orders to Roosey. I of course run into shipmates, to include [B]CPOS [/B]I had worked for. When asked about training progress I could only lament the complete LACK of training, how fucked up I thought shore duty WAS and my overwhelming desire to TERMINATE shore duty and get back to sea where things made sense.
Monday. Summoned before the Chief Pilot at 0800.
“Word is you want to be Tugmaster?”
“Got any PQS done?” (Personnel Qualification Standards - assessments, if you will)
“Yes, Chief” (I had in fact a portion signed off)
"As of TODAY yer an Under Instruction Tugmaster - the clock is ticking, get yer ass down to the 809"
“AYE AYE CHIEF!”
What the hell just happened? I was stunned and amazed.
I would later learn that the [B]CPOS [/B]aboard [B]PORTLAND [/B]had hooked up with a Pilot and/or Tugmaster or two at the CPO Hut over the weekend and after speaking to me were VERY diligent in A) finding out what was up and more importantly B) conveying to those in charge in NO uncertain terms that I was asset THEY were letting go to waste.
Course and speed were forever changed on THAT day. I was the last Tugmaster qualified there before the base was shuttered.
[B]CHIEFS [/B]remembering where they came from and taking care of their people even after the fact was a governing precept in how I did business until I retired in 2006
Twelve years later I remember it like it was yesterday; typing it all from the Wheelhouse of harbor tug that slings fuel barges in NY Harbor as the Mate.
It’s ALL good
JT sends from HESS Bronx