Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We do things a bit different

I once witnessed the changing of command of a navy vessel, in Newport Rhode Island.
Quite impressive.
It was all by accident, our tug just happened to be tied up next to the ship that was having the changing of command ceremony.
It's a big deal in the Navy. What I saw were tables, covered in white, set up on the stern for the invited guests. A buffet big enough to feed a whole fleet sat at the ready on the port side on silver platters. The gangway was covered by a red carpet, almost like the runway at the Academy Awards.
All the sailors were in dress whites. They looked really cool.
There was a lot of saluting going on for whatever reason.
A 8 piece band played some ceremonial song as the festivities began.
No, I wasn't there, but I saw all this detail as I stood in our wheelhouse looking through a pair of binoculars like a peeping tom outside a city high rise, saying, "ohh, that's cool."
We do it differently in the Merchant Marine. Our name suggests we are part of the military, but that is only the case in time of war, if the country were to need merchant vessels to haul troops of supplies.
Our change of command ceremony is a bit more scaled down.
Chris, a Captain I sailed with on a different boat in Puerto Rico, was filling in on my present boat in the New York area.
It was time for Chris to go home, so we had our change of command.
There are some small differences in the ceremonies.
We don't salute, but we wave and smile.

We didn't have a band. One of our crew members plays the guitar, but it's just not the same.
No red carpet.
We don't have dress whites.
We had no caterer. We did have cold hot dogs and french fries in the galley. Does that count?
We launched our Fast Recovery Boat,to take him ashore. It's really just a big inner tube with a motor on the back.
The red carpet was nowhere to be seen. He just sort of plopped into our dingy.

The sea worthiness of the vessel is questionable, but a few
hours later Chris would be home with his family in Puerto Rico.

I don't think he cared that there wasn't a band.


slommler said...

Your change of command is quite endearing Mark! At least all was accomplished without anyone overboard! LOL!! That would have been something to see the Navy do that though!
Thanks for sharing

Frau said...

I liked yours better I'm a simple girl don't like the fuss and all. A smile and wave is so much easier and getting home ASAP is what's important right!

clairedulalune said...

I think i would have had a ball at your changing of command!

dcpeg said...

Hilarious! I like the style of the Merchant Marines -- you're the hippies of the sea. ;-)

Your pics reminded me more of a Captain Bly kind of send-off!

We live across the street from a Navy Medical Command facility. Every now and again I hear a brass band, see guys wandering around in dress whites and wonder what's going on. The trees are too thick to get a good view, but I think it's some sort of graduation ceremony. I do love a man in uniform!!