10 April 2008

Late Nights on a Ship at Sea

By ET3 Tyler Kirkland

One may think that things slow down after evening chow, which is somewhat true, but in the aspect of trying to attain further qualifications and get some more work done, that’s when life starts to pick up, for me at least.

Nearly every sailor on board stands a watch. A watch differs based on what the Sailor’s specialty is, for example, I am an ET3 (see He’s a GSE what?), which stands for Electronics Technician Third Class, so I stand “Electronic Systems Supervisor” for five hours a day. My watch means that I am on standby to be a first responder to a casualty to a communications, radar, or navigation system. It’s a pretty wide scope when you get down to the nitty gritty of it all. My watch is 5 hours a day, but a different 5 hours every day, as all of the Electronics Technicians rotate through.

When I’m not working and not on watch, I’m busy working on my Personnel Qualification Standards, or PQS, to toss in another acronym. The biggest one, which I’m about half way done with, is called ESWS. ESWS is another acronym, (pronounced EE-SWAS), that stands for Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist. It earns me an ESWS pin to wear above my ribbons and a nifty (SW) after my ET3 in my name. Other qualifications aren’t as time consuming as the all-inclusive ESWS, but just as important.

Also, as an Electronics Technician, I’ve been to specific schools for specific equipment, known as “C” Schools. I have officially been to three C Schools, but effectively work on about 8 different systems, mostly navigation and some satellite communications. It is my duty and responsibility to troubleshoot and repair one of my systems if it were to go “offline” for any period of time. I’ve had some systems take 36 hours of troubleshooting and repair to get back online…that’s 36 STRAIGHT hours of no sleep, nothing but that specific system on my mind.

I’m not going to say it’s not worth it, though. If anything, the experiences the Navy has given me in everything from troubleshooting to leadership makes it all worth it, (and traveling the world is a huge plus, as well!).

At the end of the day, I’m proud to say that I feel that I’ve earned my paycheck, and I’ll be ready the next morning to continue that trend.


Galrahn said...

Very well done Tyler. It is the real daily of life on ship that makes this blog and contributions like yours valuable. Life on ship as seen through your eyes is a sight many never could see, and now can.

maxx said...

Some of us have mentioned the changes we see in what the Navy is now to what it was "back in the day". In regards to weps, missions, morale, propulsion, ratings etc that is certainly true. Your post highlights something that hasn't changed. The ships systems must be on line for the ship to complete it's mission and in some cases for the sailors aboard to survive. Excellent post!