It’s been about a year since I last wrote, but after someone on my ship discovered my blogs and kindly posted them all throughout the cutter, it reminded me that I should give an update on how my first tour is going. Suppo, I hope you’re reading this and playing the Rocky theme song while you do.
I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I graduated and my swabs are about to become ensigns. I hope they have a great rest of their senior year…but the ones coming to the ship should probably get here as soon as possible.
Anyway, last patrol was pretty long, five months, but we did great as a ship and busted a bunch drugs. We had a quick in-port period and then we went up to Portland, Oregon for a dry dock. The ship was taken out of the water and put up on blocks, which was pretty cool to see. Oregon has great food, beer, and friendly people…not a bad place to be. I also was finally able to take a little bit of leave and visit the East Coast and see friends I hadn’t see for almost a year and a half. Jacksonville, Pensacola, Charleston, Boston, and New York – it was pretty sweet. After that it was all about preparing for Command Assessment for Readiness and Training (CART), which I won’t really go into but it’s not very fun and involves a lot of paperwork, inventory, and procurement requests. I’m glad that’s done. Luckily right after that, our ship got to go underway and conduct HELOSTAN (which is essentially ensuring we are ready to take on helicopters onboard our ship). HELOSTAN wasn’t as bad as CART…but now we have Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA), which is run by the same guys who did CART. TSTA is comprised of drills, drills, drills…shouldn’t be too bad…hopefully. From there it will be another patrol. However, there will be lots of San Diego time, which is always a good thing.
As my tour on Bertholf comes to a close I have a lot of mixed feelings. It definitely was rough at times as there is a lot of work and a lot to learn, but I did experience a great deal and met a lot of awesome people. The people were definitely my favorite part of the job. For those who decide to put in for a WMSL (Legend-class maritime security cutter), just know it’s a lot of days away from home port. Between patrols, school, and dry dock I would say I was only actually in Alameda seven months out of the 24. Lots of experience…not so much time in my own bed. But, if you want the most exposure possible to Coast Guard missions, put in for the Island.
If I am being honest, I don’t think I’ve had a more difficult period of time in my life than sailing on Bertholf (it could totally be a 1st tour thing I guess…but being a 4/c was much easier ). It’s been a roller coaster ride with a lot of different things, but when I step back I can see if this was the hardest I’ve had it, then I have it pretty good. I will say the Coast Guard has given me a lot, and I am grateful for it. This gig is a pretty good deal.
So my next job is on the Island by the way, three years working in Alameda, and living in the city. I’m pretty excited, working in the Command Center as a Law Enforcement Duty Officer (LEDO). It was #5 on my list this time I think, which is a big step up from #38 (or whatever it was last time). As always, let me know if you have any questions. Christen.C.Shih@uscg.mil. Take care!
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