Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Cruise_Day 8

Great SWO Moments at Sea – With only 6 weeks left in command for me, GONZALEZ experienced one of those awesome Surface Warfare moments at sea which I will remember for a long time. All through the night, we stalked the BLUE force carrier and her escorts. Very early in the morning, two of the BLUE force escorts broke off to the north for a pre-dawn refueling at sea with the oiler in our operating area. After gaining sufficient sea room, the oiler and the two escorts turned south and connected to refuel. We then followed the carrier and her remaining escort at high speed on a reciprocal northerly course toward the refueling trio. The carrier then hauled out to starboard and we followed the one remaining BLUE force escort to the north. Just as the other two BLUE force ships broke away from the oiler, we suddenly became a BLUE force ship ourselves so that we could refuel with the remaining BLUE force escort we had been trailing. Just as we took the oiler down our starboard side, she put her rudder over right towards us. Now inside her turning circle and with the other BLUE force escort turning on the other side of the oiler to port to maneuver into station, my conning officer expertly swung around to port and then made an awesome full rudder turn back to starboard to bring us into station on the oiler’s starboard quarter with the other escort now on our port beam.

So if the excellent SWO shiphandling wasn’t enough, the as yet unnamed ship on the other side of the oiler taking fuel with us was none other than USS HUE CITY (CG 66). If you have followed the blog or know your Naval and Marine Corps history, you know Sergeant Freddy Gonzalez was the only Marine to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry and intrepidity at the Battle of Hue City – a great day at sea whenever DDG 66 gets to sail in company with CG 66. But wait there is more great SWO stuff! About 30 minutes into the refueling, the skies opened up on us and the heavens pelted all three ships with heavy, driving rain in 40 knots of wind. Both ships then very professionally executed emergency breakaways at the same time and hauled out to port and starboard respectfully and raced back to the carrier. Of course, photos rarely do the weather at sea true justice and there were no cameras on the bridgewing in the rain, but the included photo at least shows the approaching storm. The games continue….

Afternoon Update: The afternoon was filled with some more excellent shiphandling opportunities as the BLUE forces attempted to keep us from approaching their carrier. Naturally, we came prepared. We honed our warfighting and damage control skills further this afternoon with a General Quarters drill as well.

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