We are two weeks away from closing out 2008, and as Commanding Officer of the Best Crew in the Navy it is easy to look back on the year with a swell of pride. Not only did we complete a very successful deployment to the Mediterranean, returning home with broomsticks lashed to the yardarms, we just passed our Unit Level Training Readiness Assessment Certification (ULTRA-C). Completing ULTRA-C caps off successfully completing every inspection, assessment, and certification since returning from deployment. The men and women of GONZALEZ (your sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends, and shipmates) are batting 1000% for the year, and we are taking that record into 2009. Keeping us so busy has meant less time for me to update the blog and tell you about all the great things your Sailors have been doing, and I am woefully delinquent on some significant updates. So here we go...
Way back in September after we returned from deployment, the Hampton Roads Surface Navy Association sponsored their inaugural Enlisted Shiphandling Competition. While GONZALEZ has several Sailors and Chiefs who have stood and still stand watch as Conning Officer on the bridge, I naturally selected our most junior and only qualified enlisted Officer of the Deck Underway, OS2(SW) Dennis Denk, to compete in the contest. I'll let the links below speak for themselves on Petty Officer Denk's performance.
In November, we had the opportunity to conduct a towing exercise with our DESRON TWO sister ship, USS NICHOLAS (FFG 47). It just so happened that we conducted this exercise just days before we took part in two actual rescues at sea (see our earlier post: GONZALEZ to the Rescue). I thought you might want to check out of few pictures of our work with NICHOLAS. As a well done to the Chief Boatswain's Mate and the Best Deck Crew in the Fleet, the Officer of the Deck closed up BRAVO ZULU OD Division on the starboard halyard.
In November we celebrated Thanksgiving onboard GONZALEZ with a phenomenal holiday feast. Is that the XO on the serving line?
In December we also selected our Sailors of the Year and held our Holiday and Children's Holiday Parties. I'll post a holiday and congratulatory blog next.