Getting in on the action…. gulp!!

Coming back into Southampton from the med cruise I did the fwd station comms on the radio, under the 2/0’s supervision of course, but it was nice to be allowed that little extra bit of responsibility! Once again we had a round of MCA surveys that day, one of the inspectors wasn’t arriving until 1230 so I stayed on the bridge for the morning, filling out the stability log book, doing rounds with one of the 3rd Officers and then once the MCA were there, I stood at the CSS console (Computerised Safety System) acknowledging alarms and door closures while the Chief Officer went around with the MCA setting them off. I had a visitor on for the afternoon, and then all too soon I was back on the mooring deck again for stations at 1600, I operated the winches aft this time, it’s more complicated than it sounds as you have to be watching several things at once, but I was getting the hang of it.

The trip across to New York went rather slowly as we had some pretty dull jobs to occupy us – refilling the tenders that had come back from their maintenance ashore with the small gear (there’s a lot of it, it’s all very small and it stored in some rather difficult to reach places!), inspecting mooring ropes, checking the rescue craft gear, fixing new fenders to the pontoon uprights… oh and an engine room fire drill in which the Chief Engineer was taken out and we simulated a full CO2 release in the engine room, so it wasn’t all dull!

We spent a day and half going around the ship and colouring in tiny bits of fire plans as a result of that exercise, which was a thankless task as they were being replaced soon. I’m suspecting it was one of those jobs cadets get given to keep the out of the way when there’s nothing else for them to do, but I could be wrong…

Anyway I was set for bigger and brighter things after that, I finally had my first bridge watch that night. Not that I actually got to do much, but it felt rather fine to be up there in an official capacity, as opposed to just being up there for studying on a Sunday or getting our day’s orders. I read the standing orders and the bridge familiarisation programme, which is quite a hefty document and there’s a lot of equipment up there! A, who had been doing all the bridge stuff was leaving in a week so I was there to shadow him before taking over as he left, so he took me through the radar and GPS and gave me an overview of the rest. I was also introduced to the maintenance management system AMOS, through which all of the ship’s maintenance is programmed and overseen. I had some data entry fun ahead of me!

The next morning I was up there again, we were coming in to New York so I had to be up there extra early for the beginning of standby at 0330. Not my favourite time of day I have to admit! As I was only shadowing A I got to enjoy the view a little as the ship slid majestically under the Verrazano bridge. From up there it really looks like you’re going to hit it, but the ship has 4m clearance at high tide so there’s no real worry, as long as the ship is kept bang in the middle of the channel anyway….thankfully the helmsmen are well practised and the officers keep a close eye on everything. And there’s a lot of them up there – the Bridge Team, when entering/leaving port and other tight situations consists of the Master, Pilot, Staff Captain, Navigating Officer, 3rd Officer, Cadet and 4 quartermaster/lookouts as a minimum. There’s a lot going on and at that point, having tried to do 6 minute fixing and mostly failing, even without trying to do the log book and telephone at the same time, I couldn’t imagine how on earth I’d be able to ever do 3 minute fixing, plus the log, phone and checklists……

You’d think after being up since 0330 I might have opted to go to bed for a bit before going through the whole thing again that evening on the way out, but no, I had booked myself onto the New York bus tour for the day instead! I thoroughly enjoyed it too, we went up to the top of the Rockerfella building which gave us some amazing views of the city, stopped off at a pier on the river for lunch and visited ground zero, well, we viewed it from the building across the road anyway, the place is now starting to rise up again, in hot pursuit of getting the record for the worlds tallest building. The won’t have it for long as there’s another building in Dubai that’ll trump it within weeks, but I guess it’s a matter of pride!

All too soon it was back to the ship for a quick cup of (extremely strong) coffee and then back up to the bridge to do what we’d done in the morning, but in reverse!!

~ by size4riggerboots on June 8, 2010.

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