Yesterday we pulled back in from an exhausting underway. The USS Antietam finished the bread and butter of the ULTRA-S package, which consists of administrative reviews, drills, and evolutions. Afloat Training Group Pacific came on board to assess our level of training and I'm grateful to God for the results. We don't find out until later today the official results, but I am fairly certain that Combat Systems, the area I'm responsible for, did well.
ULTRA-S stands for Unit Level Training and Readiness Assessment-Sustainment. This means that we are able to continue through a deployment and post-deployment cycle with our training program, and that it is effective. If we fail ULTRA-S, then it shows that basically we gave up once we went on deployment.
As the Combat Systems Leading Petty Officer (LPO) and Combat Systems Maintenance Manager (CSMM) Assistant, I played a fairly extensive role in getting us ready. I helped the CSMM get drill packages prepared and approved by our Commanding Officer, developed drill guides to tell the inspector (onboard) how to evaluate a drill, and a ton of other odds and ends.
I'm not saying that in order to brag. It's almost more that dispite me being involved, we passed! I'm thankful for that. Here's a more detailed list:
1. I'm grateful for being a part of the process: I don't know why Senior Chief Edwards picked me to be his assistant. In fact, I don't know what he saw in me two years ago when he first arrived that made him take notice and start mentoring me. I have never been this involved before in a training process, and the level of knowledge I have gained now blows me away. Only God could have ordained all of that.
2. I'm grateful for the results: As I said, the official results will come out today and may be expanded over the next week or two as other reports become final. However, I am confident that combat systems has done well. No one wants to put in a lot of hard work and yet see the project fail. And let's be honest, there were some areas where we could have blown it. The technicians and watch-standers pulled through, and I'm grateful to God for those results.
3. I'm grateful for the chance to get a higher qualification: Afloat Training Specialist (ATS) is a huge undertaking and is a qualification I've been working on for a while. This is another area where Senior Chief has helped me immensely, including interfacing with the granting authority (ATG) to get my board scheduled. Now, I still have to pass an oral board, which is pretty tough, but all of my prereq's are complete and my evaluation went great. They said I did a very good job with my briefings.
4. I'm grateful for Alicia's support: I know there are guys on board who have only the Navy to fulfill them. I see them every day and I'm sad for them. They don't have Christ and they don't have a good family situation. I have both of those things, and it's truly an advantage. Alicia has dealt with a fairly cantankerous husband off and on for the last several weeks as I have prepared for the inspection. She's a trooper, and now I need to find a way to repay her for that effort. Thank you, Alicia! (No, that's not how I'm repaying her!)
There are many parts to my life where I have reason to give thanks. Well, all of it, actually. Today I am grateful for a successful series of evolutions to prove that our ship can fight and protect itself. I'm tired, still a little cantankerous, but overall, I'm grateful.
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