Last month was the final push for us to qualify for deployment. This meant joining up with the Strike Group and training again and again on how we would handle various situations in port and out to sea. On the way there of course we had several General Quarters to prep for when observers would board to find out how well we handled hostile actions taken against us and how we managed damage control aboard ship.
After reaching San Diego the real fun began as we teamed up with the other ships to provide security for the port. During these exercises we were under high pressure to not only defuse hostile situations taken against us externally we also had to defend against internal ship threats as well. I'm happy to say we did excellently and managed to enjoy some well deserved liberty time.
I had the first duty day in port so this meant the remaining days I could relax. I did so liberally as I headed to the malls during the days and hit Gas Lamp during the evenings. Much fun was had and much money was spent. Further on this later.
Now came the coup de grace of the exercise, the entire Strike Group headed out and proceeded to gear up for the last event. As you well know the United States does what it can to protect those in need while engaging any hostile forces that think they can take advantage. Engaging doesn't always mean with bullets and bombs though, sometimes lives can be saved through words alone and a sufficient amount of resolve. For weeks our forces competed against their aggressors to defend, defuse, or destroy. Soon though the enemy grew bolder and bolder in action and finally forced the point of open conflict. That is were the resolve came in even more as quick decisions were made and weapons were unleashed. The actions of our ship and it's crew made sure there was no mistake that we ment business.
Through a lot of hard work we managed get another port visit to San Diego. For the most part I pretty much stayed in the Gas Lamp area with friends. During the under way I peeked at the reciepts to find out what the damages were and found out that much of the money was spent on food or drink then physical items, I really did mean to save some cash but I'm thinking as the night wore on the need to relax and unwind after so much stress and mayham got the better of me. Nicky Rotters, The Field, The Star Bar, and a couple of others that I don't remember right now served irish car bombs, whiskey, scotch whiskey, and guiness quite readily. Being comfortably numb my friends and I concluded the night at the Merriott. The next morning of course brought with it a clouded head and super human hearing. Luckily Denny's serves breakfast at twelve in the afternoon ;). After regaining some composure after "Brunch" we went and saw Breach at the theater, I must say that it was a very well told story and worth seeing again. Completing our stay was a trip to Olive Garden where we met up with a shipmate from the carrier and had an excellent meal.
Coming back to Hawaii was pretty much a wind down time. We still remained very active maintenance wise and cleaning wise but for the most part the tension left. Now anticipation builds for me at least as I wait for the second leave period to start and head home to friends and family.