Filling the Shoes

I mentioned before that I’m currently on shore duty, and I work at a mostly civilian command. Yesterday, in an effort to get some of the civilians more exposure to the fleet, I organized a tour of one of the local ships. I took 22 people down to the pier, and a couple junior officers from the ship showed everyone around for about an hour and a half. It went terrific. The ship was incredibly gracious despite a large amount of maintenance and inspection preparations, and all the participants really seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully, this will give them a little bit of a feel for what it’s like to be a sailor and remind them who they’re really working for.

Personally, I had a great time. It’s been a few years now since I’ve had the opportunity to walk around a ship, and it really reminded me of why I miss it. It’s just a special kind of awesome. I also felt really intimidated for the first time in quite a while.

I’ve also mentioned that I am currently in the middle of my slating process. In other words, I’ve been on shore long enough, and it’s time for me to figure out which ship I will be going to. When I finally walk onboard my next ship, I will be a department head. That is the part that humbled me a bit yesterday.

A department head is one of the more senior people onboard a ship. Only the Commanding Officer (CO) and Executive Officer (XO) are above you in the chain of command (although some of the other department heads may be senior to you). Department heads are in charge of an entire section of the ship, and they can have up to 100 sailors working for them depending on the type of vessel. When I was a division officer, I always looked at the department heads with a sense of awe. They were the all knowing masters of my world. If you had any problems at all, you could go to them and get an answer. They were older and much more experienced.

Now, I’m supposed to be one of them? That’s a sobering thought (or a thought to make you drink, I’m not sure which). Part of the issue is that I don’t really consider myself to be old enough yet. In reality, since I spent a few years enlisted, I tend to be slightly older than my peers. That means that I am probably older than most of my past department heads.

Another issue is that I just don’t feel like I know enough. I think this is probably a pretty common feeling everywhere. I felt the same way when I became a parent, and that has turned out ok so far. I think there are probably 3 possibilities for why I feel like this. 

  1. I really don’t know enough yet. 
  2. I’m underestimating myself.
  3. My old department heads did a really good job of faking it.

I think it’s probably a combination of the 3.

I was definitely glad to set foot on a ship yesterday, but it definitely managed to push my stress to a new level. With all that being said, I can’t wait to get back out there.

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