06 August 2009

Deployment 2009

All, the blog has officially been given the ok to restart for the men and women of RUSSELL. We are safely underway now and getting into our routine. It is difficult to upload pictures from the ship to the blog, but I will be sending them to our ombudsman, Mrs. Amanda Robinson, while we are underway. When we are inport, I will try to upload pictures from the ship. If you need to reach our ombudsman you can email her at russellomb@yahoo.com. You can also leave comments on the blog posts, and I will try to get back to you when I can. For now, know we are safely underway and extremely grateful for all the thoughts and emails from family and friends back home...Take care and be safe. Doug

03 August 2009

Checking if this works

Good afternoon all. We will be restarting our blog here shortly, but for now I just want to make sure it is working. Everything is going well thus far.

04 August 2008

A Day To Remember (Part 3)

By SKSN Jeremy Henthorne
This is the final in a three part series from SN Henthorne detailing his experiences during the Somali rescue operation last June.

So many emotions were being displayed; so many more being bottled inside by everyone on the ship. On the forecastle alone people were just in a daze about what they had just witnessed. Everyone was so passionate about wanting to help these people that it didn’t matter what time it was - if they had eaten, if they had to be up for the early watches - none of that mattered. Everyone on the ship worked towards the goal of helping get these people back to healthy. But there was another emotion going through everyone’s mind at this time. What were these people fleeing from back where they came from? What is going to happen when we turn them over to the Somali Coast Guard? Caught between moral emotions and the legal binds that are in place, this was a very sad night for most. Though torn apart by this, everyone knew that it was not in our hands; there was simply nothing we could do about the fact that we have to bring them back to Somalia.

The time came when I was too exhausted to be of further assistance so I asked one last time if anyone needed anything. They all were getting ready to let the next watch come on to keep on eye on each of the patients and administer any medical help needed throughout the night. In the morning we heard the boats being lowered into the water as they took each of the sick men, now doing much better from when they originally came to us the previous afternoon, back to the disabled boat.

As we left the boat and all the people in it with the Somali Coast Guard, many people were in a haze as to the events that happened the night before. Did this really happen? Did we really just help a stranded ship? all these questions floated in the minds of the sailors onboard Russell. Many tried to forget what they saw, smelt, and heard on the boat; others sat quietly reflecting about the events. The one thing that everyone was thinking about was how we came together and worked as a team to do everything in our power to help these people. It took the whole crew being selfless for a day, putting holiday routine in the back of their minds and focusing on doing what needed to be done.

I can say that I am proud to serve with the men and women of the USS Russell. What I saw that day was a sight that will never be forgotten. From manning extra watches for lookout, to getting food and water ready, to pulling the sick aboard, to the boarding team bringing the supplies to the boat and trying to calm down the stranded passengers - everyone contributed to the success of the event.

When I look back on that day and think about what I saw and what I did and what I saw others do, it makes me feel proud to be a part of this organization. And when I think of the seventy men, women, and children of that boat, I thank God for everything that I have, to be a citizen of a country that isn’t so bad that people flee and risk their lives to try to find a better life. It reminds me that even on my worst day out here, it could be a whole lot worse. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to help someone in need and I know that many others on this ship feel the same way. It was an eye opening experience and I think it is one that many will take with them the rest of their life.

Go to part 1.

30 July 2008

Eye Candy for Sailors, Part 24

Some photos from our recent trip(s) through the Suez Canal:

The canal with the “Peace Bridge” in the distance.

A mosque at Port Suez.

The only variation we saw in the weather during our transits.

Some of the local transportation.

27 July 2008

A Day To Remember (Part 2)

By SKSN Jeremy Henthorne
This is the third in a three part series from SN Henthorne detailing his experiences during the Somali rescue operation last June.

A report comes in from our boarding team that it is a boat full of starving men, women, and children. None of them were armed and they looked like they had been out there for at least two or three days with no food or water. At this point the situation is being assessed and it was determined that this was a boat of people trying to flee Somalia and head to anywhere but where they came from. Very few of them spoke English and our boarding team members were trying to find out any information they could about these people. Our supply officer gave the order to break out food and water and prepare it to be sent to the ship immediately. As the boarding team came back for food and water they reported that there were at least two dead and five or so sick. The decision was then made to drop the food and water off and bring the sick to our ship for care. Then the Officer of the Deck stood down my watch.

Now that I have seen what is really going on, I couldn’t just go back to enjoying my Sunday; this couldn’t be more than a thirty foot boat packed with seventy men, women, and children. None were in the best of health and all were starving and thirsty. While some of the others from my watch went below to help cook dinner, I decided to stay behind and offer my further assistance. They asked for some volunteers to help use the special open topped litter to rescue personnel from the water. There had to have been at least fifteen of us on the line to pull up the cage from the water line. At the same time we were manning up the medical team and those Sailors who were trained to help during time of medical emergencies. A triage tent was being set up on the forecastle. It was erected and pads were laid out to keep anyone who may lay on it from laying directly on the non-skid surface. Medical supplies and water as well as blankets were all brought up for the sick that were being transported over.

We were then given the order to pull on the line to bring the first of the sick Somalis onboard. As we slowly heaved in, it felt like there was a three hundred pound man on the end of the line. When we finally got the first man onboard we saw for the first time just how small these men were. As we pulled the second on board it was a lot easier as they found that the first one had the rope chafing on the side of the ship. As we pulled each of the remaining sick onboard we would all look in amazement as we felt there was no one in the baskets. These poor men were all so thin, barely conscious, and had shallow breathing. Our Corpsmen onboard and the extra hands trained to be able to help all assessed each of the sick and noted the symptoms and problems they each had.

I went below to eat. I still felt this gut feeling that I needed to help even if I could only help indirectly. So when I finished my dinner I headed back up to the forecastle to see what I could do. When I got up there I asked where I could help out. At that time there wasn’t much anyone other than the medics and boarding team could really do to actively assist. So I relieved one of my shipmates who had been on communications this whole time and hadn’t had the chance to eat. When he came back to get on communications again I asked if there was anyone else on the bridge who hadn’t had a relief to go eat. So I went up to the pilot house to relieve the man on watch up there so he could eat. Meanwhile, the corpsmen were on the forecastle working hard to keep these poor men alive.

When I was relieved of my watch for the evening I decided that there had to be something I could do to help. When I arrived on the forecastle there was only about fifteen other people up there as opposed to the thirty or forty earlier. We all did what we could to help assist the medics with everything from grabbing plastic bags and rubber gloves to getting water for the sick men. This was the first time that I had been this close to them and could really see what they looked like. The first two men looked a lot healthier than when they first came on board. It was so nice to see them lying there so peacefully. For these men this was probably the first real night’s sleep they had been able to get in a few days at least. There were two others in the middle who were both very much awake. I will never forget the sounds I heard that night. As I sat down to just take in the whole situation I saw before me. The man closest to me, who had been doing so well and moving around and talking with everyone, was now so sick. The sounds that he made would make your spine shiver. I felt so bad for this man, he was in so much pain and you could see it in his eyes. His body was so tense you could see each individual muscle through the skin. The man next to him was laying staring straight up into the top of the canopy looking with a distant stare. I went over and held his hand as he was laying there in pain. He turned and looked at me as we sat there for five minutes but it felt longer. We just looked at each other, no words were needed I knew he was just thankful to have someone by his side at this time.

Go to part 1.
Go to part 3.