24 Hours Aboard the USS Wasp
Attention to detail and preventing unexpected surprises was a constant theme. Quite a bit of time was spent on the anchoring process for a short stop off of Brooklyn. The soil conditions of the harbor bottom were presented and several questions were asked about how the anchor would be cleaned by hoses as it was retrieved to the ship. The captain went out of his way to ask that there be a minimum of people on the control bridge causing “noise” as the ship was navigating in the harbor and docking at the pier.
People Matter a Lot
It is obvious that people skills are emphasized in the Navy, as we were reminded throughout our stay. The crew, of course, is composed of all volunteers, and the captain asked about the plan to have at least 400 of the crew “Man the Rails” as the ship sailed into New York Harbor. “Let’s find a way to have everyone not just stand in one place for two hours,” Capt. Hawley said. “Let them move around at some point.”
Separately, several crew members pointed out that on Mother’s Day, when the ship was sailing off the U.S. coast, the captain brought the ship within 10 miles of shore so that the crew could use their cell phones to call home. Thoughtful gestures like this can go a long way to reinforce a message that the leadership cares about all on board as people.
Much is asked of sailors when at sea. Most are on 12-hour watches with no weekends off. Many of the enlistees are just out of high school, and—based on aptitude—trained to handle the very expensive equipment on board. One officer commented about the constant need to keep 18- and 19-year-olds focused on their responsibilities. It was mentioned that 30 percent of the crew is female and approximately 50% come from minority backgrounds. Bathrooms—known in the Navy as “heads”—are clearly marked as male or female.