Well, I’ve been onboard the ship for six months and yes I’m making a mark but I hadn’t done anything that spectacular that merited any attention whatsoever. I had been waiting impatiently to be put on the watch bill as the conning officer for the navigation outbound naval station Norfolk. This navigation detail is approximately 2:30 minutes long and it is a big deal to be on the bridge for it because EVERYONE and their mother is up there. Even the captain stays on the bridge the entire time.
When I finally got chosen to be the conning officer, they put me on the watch bill the day before the brief was supposed to take place. Not a lot of time at all to prepare. I was seriously determined to make an impression with this brief. I wanted to do it very well.
I immediately ran up to the bridge and found a quartermaster and I immediately began freaking out and telling him I needed his help direly. He laughed and went and got the charts and notecards, and we proceeded to spend the next few hours going over the charts, writing notes, and preparing for my brief. He added even more than what people normally say and I was nervous. This was definitely going to be a make it or break it moment. No notecards, nobody had ever done it on the ship before, or at least since I’ve been there. My ship was only just commissioned a year ago and most of the original crew is still onboard.
I took every word QM1 gave me and I prepared for the brief. It was awesome. He allowed me to take the charts home for the night with death threats if anything should happen to them, and then when I got home I practiced the brief until, well… I knew it by heart. Yeah I know, total nerd, but like I said I wanted to make a statement.
The next morning I went into the wardroom and helped set up the charts for the brief and then I waited patiently for everyone to come into the room. I thought I was going to throw up or something that’s how nervous I was. Geez.
Of course, OF COURSE, the captain does not come for the start of the navigation brief. In all my time on board he has never not come to one of the navigation briefs. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!?!??? No matter, there were still plenty of people in the room. So it went on without him and when it came time to brief my part, I took off and I didn’t stop till I was through with it. I focused all of my attention on the executive officer (guy ranked right under the captain) and I didn’t look around because I didn’t know what people’s reactions were going to be.
I did it flawlessly. I was loving it. When I finished with the first chart, people started clapping and one of the chiefs turned to the other ensigns and said, you guys just suck. I didn’t hear that part because I was still focused, he told me about it later. My personal favorite was when the executive officer actually had to quiet down the wardroom which I have also never seen before, because I had done so well nobody could stop talking.
I was very happy with the way the brief went and when the captain came in late, after missing my entire performance, they were all telling him he completely missed the best brief they had ever seen. I was silent.
Apparently though, after the brief had ended, about three people had gone up to him and told him about it in much more detail. I was smiling behind this scenes. I had scored big on this one. I was congratulated many times throughout the day, and it really felt good.
In the end, my small success propelled me through the week and on Friday, the captain told me that he had noticed my accomplishments. Sometimes the navy is so stressful and just sucks, so these small marks that I am able to make, just feel good.
I’ve never retold the story except with you all here today and only the people who were present will remember it or maybe not, but it was more of an experience purely for myself and my personal accomplishments and I’m really happy I was prepared. Too often in this profession they try to make you look horrible like you don’t know what you’re doing. Thats mostly because its true. The first time I ever stepped onboard a warship was the day I reported for duty. So its these very small menial things that really count because in those moments people look around and go huh, maybe she does know something, weird. They will always always remember all of the screw ups you have, but it takes something BIG for them to remember an accomplishment.
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