Friday, May 3, 2013

Finding Her Way

 By Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Courtney Enfield
I reported on board USS Nimitz on May 3, 2011. I guess I never really thought about the fact that I reported to the ship 36 years after it was commissioned.
When I arrived, the ship was dry docked in Bremerton, Wash. I reported very late on a Sunday night. I waited at the front gate for what felt like forever, when finally a girl in PT gear said she was a Logistics Specialist 2nd class and to follow her. I remember she walked so fast, I was just trying to look at the ship and take it all in. I’m all about moments, but everything happened so quickly. I felt like a lost puppy.
I was told to follow the crowd in the morning down to the ship, so I checked in to my barracks room for the night. That night I slept without a pillow, and I had just one sheet so I didn’t really get much sleep.
The next morning, I didn’t see a crowd. Luckily, my roommate waited for me and I was able to follow her to the ship. We got to the first check point, and I had to wait for a person from my division to escort me since we needed badges to enter the part of the shipyard where the ship was docked. It was a hectic morning to say the least.
I was still really lost on my second day here. I remember being by myself in what we call the tunnel, but I didn’t know it at the time. I asked the then executive officer, where the hangar bay was and he kind of gave me a puzzled look and pointed behind him. I was right next to it. Two years later, I’m still finding my way around the ship. I just barely got the O3 level down.
I remember going down into the dry dock and reaching up and touching the ship. That was a cool thing for me. I knew that not very many people would get a chance to do that and I’d probably never get the chance to again. I couldn’t believe it was just wooden blocks that were holding up an entire aircraft carrier.
I had never heard of Adm. Chester Nimitz before I reported, but I did a little research after I arrived and during one of the Captain’s calls we had in the hangar bay, the XO asked who commissioned the ship. I blurted out that it was Nimitz’ daughter, I didn’t even raise my hand but he heard me. I ended up winning head of the line privileges for chow for a day, which was awesome but I felt like that was worth a day off. It was a pretty hard question.
The first time I was underway on Nimitz was when the ship moved homeports from Bremerton to Everett. It was really exciting for me. I was happy I didn’t get seasick because there were really rough seas. It was the first time a lot of people had ever been underway-- everyone was exhausted, everyone was asleep, and there wasn’t a night check— nothing. I was told to stand the low visibility watch. Another person and I were up there for six hours in the freezing cold. After watch, I had about 20 minutes to sleep before I had to man the rails on the flight deck while the ship pulled in to port.
 That first underway wasn’t what I expected, but it was still really exciting for me. When we first got underway and the ship started moving, that was the coolest thing ever and I couldn’t wait for RIMPAC and deployment. I’m happy to finally be on deployment right now.
Last year I was in charge of all of the reactor materials and chemicals on board. That’s about $25 million worth of materials I was in charge of. I went through SMI which is a big supply inspection. During a previous inspection a year before, inventory was at 80 percent and it’s supposed to be at 100 percent. (That includes about 14,000 line items) So during RIMPAC, I would stay up all night and inventory everything. I got nominated for a Navy Achievement Medal (NAM). I didn’t end up getting it, but I did get a coin from a three-star admiral. Getting the Commander Navy Air Forces (CNAF) coin after such an important inspection was a great moment for me.
I was being recognized for all of my hard work. I put my heart and soul into that storeroom as an E-2 doing an E-6 job. It felt really good to know that people really do notice all of the hard work that you’re doing.
As of Tuesday, I am now working in Supply Quality Assurance (QA). Right now I’m just training. I work for the Assistant Supply Officer and the Supply Officer validating and verifying all of supply department’s inventories and paperwork, and providing them monthly reports. I feel like finally, two years later, I’m getting what I’ve been working for. I’ve worked hard since day one. I’m excited about the new division I’m working in. My leading petty officer (LPO) and chief are awesome and I’m excited for this opportunity.
It’s definitely been an emotional and physical rollercoaster for me. There have been times where I’ve lost sleep just to keep up with my workload, but at the same time I had the victory of getting advanced to 3rd class petty officer the last test cycle. I’ve never been a really good test taker, and the fact that I passed the test by so many points my first time up made me feel empowered. I’ve been to Hawaii, and I love being out to sea.
I love that the Navy takes me places I’ve never been.
 I’ve had some serious highs and lows, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a good attitude and a positive role model. My advice to new Sailors reporting to a ship is just to take it one day at a time. Expect the unexpected, but don’t take things too personally.