Sea Story Thursday, where I tell you a Navy related Story, just because.
How Sea Story Thursday was born:
My Uncle & Dad. That’s the plain and simple reason. While on leave they both kept bringing up stories I had told them over the past few years at sea. My Uncle told me that he loved to tell my stories to anyone who would listen. hmmmm… I’ve got plenty more where that came from, maybe I’ll make it a weekly rendition. Done!
Before I even tell you this story, I’m going to have to give you a little bit of background.
The first day that I reported to Norfolk Virginia for duty it was a chipper, crisp morning. December 29th, 2010 to be exact. I had just packed my meager belongings into my newly purchased (but 1 year leased) 2010 Toyota Camry, said goodbye to my friends and family with many kisses and waves and headed out on my own. A freshly commissioned Naval Officer bound for my first ship, a destroyer stationed out of Virginia.
After spending 1 night at the Naval Lodge, I had to drive over to check on board the ship. Turns out everyone was on Christmas leave, which was actually a little less intimidating for me, since no one was really there. After check the apartment search began and I was able to find a place pretty quickly, moving in within a few short days, (it only took about 30 minutes to unpack the car) and with barren rooms, walls, and the like I rolled out my sleeping bag and settled in for the night.
With no electricity in the middle of winter it wasn’t the best night I’ve ever had but I didn’t have a word of complaint because I was in my first apartment, in an unfamiliar state, and I was ready to take on the world. Then… I found out that I wouldn’t be getting that electricity until sometime after the new year which led into me purchasing 3 electric lanterns and 50 candles. It all ended up working out in the end.
A few months later a new batch of ensigns arrived and I became good friends with 4 guys that were living together all Naval Officers but all stationed on different ships. Somehow the stars aligned and after my first year in Norfolk I moved in with them and became # 5 and the only girl in the house.
It wasn’t long before we found out that the George W. Bush (aircraft carrier) would be heading out on her maiden deployment and that 3 of the 5 of us would be heading out with her, all on different ships. That day arrived unceremoniously and with another tearful goodbye to my family as we were Middle East bound and not one look back towards the harbor in which we’d left.
With only a few months underway I was adjusting to long term ship life and also going stir crazy. That’s when we found out that we would be making a stop in Jeddah for fuel and one of the other ship’s would be joining us. That other ship, a cruiser, had one of my 5 roommates onboard and Boy was I excited to see him!
We weren’t allowed to do in Jeddah (it is a dry country for those of you who don’t know) and we promptly found out we would be restricted to the pier completely surrounded and closed in by stacked conex boxes (the containers you can find on merchant ships), kind of like a play pen.
Although I walked around in Jeddah, I saw and did nothing there, so I’m not sure if I can even count it as visiting.. but we pulled in second and I was very excited to run over and greet Chris with bells and whistles.
When I arrived at the quarter deck I asked if anyone knew where he was. They weren’t sure of his location so I convinced them to play a prank on him. They readily agreed. Yippee. So we passed the word over the ship’s announcement system (1MC) asking for him to contact the quarterdeck. He immediately did at which point the Officer of the Deck (OOD) told him to hurry quickly to the quarterdeck because there were shots fired on the pier (He was the GUNNO for those of you who understand the language). Okay, OKAY, maybe not my best prank of all time, but that got him running.
I swear it was seconds later when he arrived, sweating, in all out panic mode. He was looking around wildly and I was just standing there smiling at him with this big goofy grin on my face. When he saw me he knew immediately that I had duped him. I took a running jump and landed straight into his arms laughing and screaming my excitement at having been reunited after so many months apart.
I’m pretty sure he was still taking in his relief of having no shots fired on the pier!
Then, out of some side door, a man comes barging through. I had never seen him before. Chris immediately drops me like a sack of potatoes on the floor and stands at attention. Great, I’m pretty sure I’m staring right into the en-angered face of the Captain of the ship. What luck. He just stares us down and we just stare back, not a word was spoken, and then he barks at the guy behind him and they hurry off down the passageway.
Chris immediately grabs my arm and tugs me with him, I can barely keep up and he is just running down passageways and through doors. He stops abruptly and knocks sharply on a door entering without waiting for a reply, me in tow. I see the sign on the desk labeled Executive Officer (the Captain’s right hand man). I decided to keep quiet through the whole conversation.
In full panic mode once again, Chris recounts the story and apologizes profusely multiple times. All I got out of that conversation was that we were complete idiots, but he would take care of everything, and we should leave. When I went back over to my ship later that day I was scared shitless. I wasn’t sure if that moment was going to come back and haunt me in some way. A moment of which we now laugh profusely over, every time we tell the tale. Exactly what happened last night and what inspired me to write the story today.