Frosted: A First-Generation Asian American in the US Navy, Chapter 3: The Ship


I accidentally released Chapter 2 as anonymous:

The First Day:

I’m not going to lie. The first day going on my ship was very nerve wrecking. It’s like a mixture of going to a new school on the first day or going to an interview. The other officers from my ROTC have always told me I had one chance to make my impression. Everyone will judge me from my uniform to me following procedures and customs and courtesy. One of the reasons why everyone could tell that I’m the new guy is my uniform. When any new person arrives on the ship, he or she generally wears the dress uniform; in my case I was in Hawaii, thus I wore my Summer Whites.

Frosted: A First-Generation Asian American in the US Navy, Chapter 3: The Ship

It’s a bit formal for the ship environment; thus, people knew that I’m new.

I saw the ship, and at the time, I thought it was a big ship. Now, I know it’s not that big. It looked like it had fresh new paint and there was grinding going on. I had no idea what was going on at the time, but it was the Boatswains Mate who were using these tools called Needle guns to sand down and grind out the rust from the steel. Most people understand that metal and water are not a good combination. Rust becomes an issue; seawater and floating chunk metal is definitely not good.

Frosted: A First-Generation Asian American in the US Navy, Chapter 3: The Ship

Oh and if you try to sleep through it; well, let's say you can't. The needle gun vibrates through out the ship; so, if you have to stand watch at night, good luck getting rest.

I followed my sponsor up the brow of the ship (the brow is the bridge from the pier that is connected to the ship), saluted the Ensign (flag at the end of the ship as per customs), and stated, “I request permission to come aboard.” The Messenger of the Watch looked at my ID and granted permission. I felt a little bit relieved that I nailed the customs part. At least a small number of people didn’t think I was a shit bag, at least not yet.

Before I describe meeting my division, I will describe a little bit of the structure. As an Ensign at the time, I immediately became the Division Officer. A division is similar to being a supervisor. A division, depending on the size of the ship or command, can range from 5 to 40 people. Along with the Division Officer, there is usually a Lead Chief Petty Officer (the assistant supervisor) and a Lead Petty Officer (the assistant to the assistant supervisor). After that, you have the worker bees that make up the rest of the division.

My division was already working and doing their daily tasking; Thus, my sponsor showed me around the ship, and I accidentally bumped into my LCPO (Lead Chief Petty Officer). Now, I was told before I arrived that I am a lucky guy because my LCPO is a Senior Chief (E-8) and is very competent. In fact, he was 1 of 14 to be promoted to E-8 in his field which was Damage Control. The first thing he said to me was, “Sir, nice to meet you; I would shake your hand, but I got shit on it.” I looked at his hand, and sure enough on his gloves was shit. When I say shit, I mean literally human feces on his hands. I’ll explain why he did when describing my job and my division at a later part.

I was then dragged everywhere. I had to meet the Wardroom, which was my fellow officers and had to do administrative things. Turn in my paper work and get my housing allowance activated. Honestly, that’s what is most important: getting paid. Meeting my fellow officers was not eventful, I met my stateroom mates which is important since we were going to share a stateroom together. Now as an officer, I was lucky enough to get a stateroom to be my home on the ship. Enlisted get to stay down in berthing which is a big room with lots of beds (racks) and no privacy.

The stateroom provided a little privacy and a lot of storage with a computer; there is also a sink which is convenient because I could wash my face and brush my teeth without leaving the room. Also, my rack space was a little bit bigger so I could turn on my side easily when I slept. The enlisted racks were a little smaller and hard to turn on one’s side. More importantly, there was carpeting in the stateroom. No carpet in berthing; thus, the enlisted had to walk with sandals. The best way I could describe the stateroom’s size is it’s half the size of a single bedroom with three guys in it.

Frosted: A First-Generation Asian American in the US Navy, Chapter 3: The Ship

Near the end of the day, I finally met my Commanding Officer. I wasn’t really impressed and all I could think of is this guy had bad teeth and is fat. Honestly, I can’t remember what he told me, but generally, it’s do a good job and blah blah. The day kind of flew by; so, I couldn’t meet my division until the next day.

Frosted: A First-Generation Asian American in the US Navy, Chapter 3: The Ship
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