By Sub Lieutenant Jeremie Fraser
Canadian exchange officer onboard USS San Diego (LPD 22)
It usually takes three or four days before you see the beginning of fatigue in the eyes of everyone. However, it always ends by noticing the signs of tiredness related to additional duties and responsibilities once ships are underway at sea.
On American ships, as in the Royal Canadian Navy, a “watch” system is established in addition to the normal working day, so it is not uncommon for an officer to be on watch from 3 to 6 a.m. before starting a normal workday. What’s impressive is to see good humor prevail despite the general fatigue.
Operating a warship is a team effort and the crew of USS San Diego perform incredibly. Crew members are passionate about their work and aren’t hesitant to talk about it.
The ship’s population is diverse. There are tan-coloured marine uniforms alongside the blue uniforms of the Sailors. According to the books on military history I’ve read in the ship library, the Marines have always been an impressive fighting force. As they are specialized in amphibious operations, most of them do not have essential duties on board the ship. Some Sailors and Marines themselves go so far as to insinuate — half serious, half joking — that Marines may have a little too much free time on board. However, you cannot say they are undisciplined: the gyms in the ship are always full. They are also the raison d’être of the USS San Diego.
I recently had the opportunity to go for a ride in a hovercraft (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) – an impressive machine. I was told the effect of the surf on the LCAC tends to upset those who are prone to seasickness. The person sitting next to me was equipped with a big transparent plastic bag for that purpose. So, I kindly offered to hold the bag for her in case her stomach decided to clear itself. Ultimately, no one got sick. I have yet to hit a sea strong enough to take away my taste for sailing. My colleagues and I continue to adapt to life onboard USS San Diego. The opportunity to sail with a US ship has been an amazing opportunity that I will never forget.
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