Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who We Are – CIVMARs

Dear Family & Friends,

Yes… That really is me standing next to 5 of the contestants from the Miss Universe pageant. This year’s event is being held in Nha Trang and these young ladies were kind enough to visit Mercy. They were aboard for several hours to eat lunch, chat with the crew, and visit with several of the patients. Yea, I know folks… It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it!

For the last 28 years, I have been proud to belong to a cadre of some of the finest seafarers in the world – the Civil Service Mariners (CIVMARs) of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC). CIVMARs are government employed Merchant Marine officers and seamen who operate 45 of the navy’s specialized auxiliary vessels. The ships we sail are designated with the prefix USNS (for United States Naval Ship) as opposed to the USS prefix of the regular commissioned ships of the US Navy.

Most of the ships we operate are supply vessels (fuel, stores, and ammunition) in which the delivery method is what is know as Underway Replenishment (UNREP). In this process, we will rendezvous with the warships out at sea and conduct refuelings and reprovisionings while steaming about 180 feet apart. It’s an exciting job and the CIVMARs are some of the best in the world at it!

Our ship’s officers come from a variety of places. Many are graduates (like myself) from one of the 6 Maritime Academies around the country. Some are ex-Navy and some have worked their way “up the hawsepipe” (e.g. come up through the ranks to earn their officer’s license). Our unlicensed crews are just a varied. Again, many are prior navy while others are home grown having started in entry level positions and worked their way up.

With almost a thousand people currently aboard Mercy, it is humbling to think that only 67 CIVMARs are here to operate “the ship” segment of this hospital ship. It’s the CIVMARs who navigate and maneuver the ship to each of our mission locations. We keep the engines going; operate the boats to and from the beach; keep the lights and air conditioning running; as well as noble task of transforming a bunch of lubberly doctors and nurses into real salty seadogs. <>

While the mission’s focus is medical, I can take pride in knowing this mission would never happen if it were not for the CIVMARs bringing this ship to the places we visit.

More to come…



Pamela said...

What a great post, Bob...I have been trying to explain your job as a civmar to others for twenty some years...Words cannot express how very proud I am of my husband and the job he does for our country...thru wars and peace time..and now this wonderful humanitarian mission of Mercy...Thank You.

Love, Pamela

Pat, Pam, & Sean said...

Hey Captain Bob!
Your face is as RED as Miss Guam's
Shirt and I've never seen you smile so big. What a tuff time you're having. In all seriousness
this is great and It's also nice to see a response from you Pamela. You and Bob are very special. Not only are we proud of
Captain Bob but we can say we are
also very proud of the Captain's wife. You are a special Lady.

Your friend
Pat Yancey

deepa said...

Hello Captain,
My husband is on board as a Surgeon(Indian Navy).Myself and my sweet little daughter also wanted to see USNS Mercy, a huge hospital ship in sea. So i was searching on internet to get some information and i feel so delighted to see your blog. It is very informative and very interesting. we are very happy to see that you are providing such excellent services. we thank you for all the wonderful photos. Myself feel so lucky that my husband is attached to such organization that is serving for the needy people. God bless and good luck to you and all. Thank you .

David said...

Captian Bob!!
Another great idea with this blog. I wish we had thought of this back in 2006. We finally got a few more of the bugs worked out of our system on the Shepard so that I could view your blog.

I have to say part of me wishes I was back there with you again. The humanitarian mission on Mercy in 2006 was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career and I can see this one is shaping up even better then the last. Every person's hand I held and carried up the gangway and every smile I saw on their faces as they went back down will forever be part of me. I can not think of another Captain more capable or suited for these missions then you. Keep up the good work and stay safe. Fair winds and following seas.

Your Friend,

P.S. Remember to leave the back flips for the swimming pool. ;)

Robert said...

Great post. Looks like a rough life. Guess I picked the wrong ship for my cadet shipping. Tell Tom Steele that Bobby Hart says hi from the USNS Guadalupe.

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