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Penguin
06-05-2015, 06:41 AM
Hi :)

My character is in the Navy and is about to leave on his first deployment. This will be the epilogue of my book. Iíve been researching for hours and want to make sure I get every last detail right. So here is the way Iíll set up the scene and if anyone can please tell me if I made any errors, Iíll really appreciate it. Thanks.

He says goodbye to some of his friends before getting in the car with his family and girlfriend. They drive for a few hours to the port where the ship will deploy from. Once there, he will say goodbye to his family, kiss his girlfriend, and then he will get on the ship (with his bag). Is all this correct? Do the sailors need to report to the ship ahead of time before their families arrive to wish them goodbye? Am I missing anything?

Again, thanks!

jclarkdawe
06-05-2015, 07:54 AM
Your sailor will complete basic training (NOT boot camp!) at Great Lakes. At the end of the training there, there's a big ceremony where the family is invited in limited numbers. The sailor gets a few hours of leave, and then goes back to the base.

From there, the sailor is either sent to a school or direct to a unit. If he's sent to a ship, the ship will be in the midst of a cycle. Basically the ship is in harbor doing overhaul and then goes to sea. It stays at sea for a period, then returns to home port for maintenance. Broadly speaking, that schedule is set at least a year in advance.

It's unusual for a sailor to arrive on the day that the ship is setting sail. Normally the sailor will be there for at least part of the maintenance period. A sailor new to the ship is rather useless.

I'd have him arrive at the ship about a month before it is scheduled to depart. Sailors will be granted leave for at least a few hours before the ship departs. For a new sailor, this leave might only be for a few hours.

Remember that the ship needs sailors to get the ship ready to sail. Some supplies are delivered very shortly before the ship leaves, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Everything needs to be stowed properly, the sailors all assigned berths, machinery checked. It's a very complex process. A fair number of sailors will not be able to have leave within 24 hours of the ship departing.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Penguin
06-05-2015, 06:08 PM
Thanks, Jim Clark-Dawe! This is all very helpful.

Can I ask you a question? When the sailors return from deployment, do they recieve time off, like a few days or weeks to spend time with their families or do they immediately report for their next duty?

Thanks :)

robjvargas
06-05-2015, 07:26 PM
I served aboard multi-crew vessels. Ballistic missile submarines (aka boomers). I was stationed at a base. In my case, the submarines physically operated out of different bases. We would gather up on the day our crew was supposed to take over custody of the vessel (submarines are called boats). Family could be there to send us off.

Additionally, one of the submarines was in a different base in the USA. Family would also show up the day we were scheduled to depart dock. The captain tried very hard to give everyone with family at least a few minutes. Mind you, submarines have a crew of about 150. It's a bit easier to manage with a smaller crew like that.

Once we surrendered the boat to the other crew, we generally were given the option of exercising our accrued leave, up to two weeks. Our time off-boat was basically all training.

Duncan J Macdonald
06-05-2015, 07:27 PM
20 Year Navy veteran here.

A sailor is assigned to a ship as his/her Permanent Duty Station. Depending on their rank (E-1 through E-9 [I'm discounting Warrant and Commissioned Officer here]) they will have a berth assigned on board the ship, and that is where they live (if married, they qualify for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and may live out in town, or in a nearby Military Housing area.

Generally, sailors will live as close as practical to their ship, to cut down on commute time.

As a member of ship's company, the sailor will be assigned to a Duty Section -- not less than three, and sometimes as many as six -- which means that one day out of every three they stay onboard overnight. So if I had duty on Thursday, I'd get to the ship before "quarters" (either 0630 or 0700, depends on the ship) and leave Friday at the close of business (generally 1500 [3:00 pm]). If I'm in three section duty, My next duty day is Sunday, then Wednesday, then Saturday, then Tuesday and so on.

A duty section is made up of enough sailors from each department (Engineering, Deck, Weapons, etc.) to be able to get the ship underway and safely sail her if they need to. This rule was brought into effect because of December 7th 1941.

Coming back from deployment, there is normally a "stand down" period of one to two weeks, where Duty Section Only personnel are on board. Remember that three section duty cycle? It continues.

Also, depending on rate (their job vice their rank or pay-grade) sea-shore rotation is normally 5 years at sea, 2 years ashore. So unless your protagonist is extremely lucky and detaches from the ship the day they get back from deployment, he/she isn't going to have a whole bunch of time off.

Again, and very generally, the only time you really get to have extended vacation time is in between duty stations.

-- Duncan

jclarkdawe
06-05-2015, 07:35 PM
Usually they get a short leave. Most of the sailors will stay with the ship, working on getting the ship ready for its next sea time. Sailors with enough leave time for extended leave will be gradually let go to take their leave.

You're confusing deployment with sea time and duty station. They are not related. A sailor is assigned ship duty for a period of three years. If the sailor is an E-4 or above (Petty Officer third class), he or she will have a specific job. Let's say the sailor is quartermaster, or QM. The sailor will have been through A school.

The QM, while the boat is in harbor, deals with updating and correcting charts, work on navigational equipment, and render honors. While at sea, the QM serve as helmsmen and perform ship control. Average QM will spend about 60% of the time at sea and 40% of the time ashore during a 20 year hitch. But a QM will almost always be assigned to a ship.

Shore time is also for taking leave and additional training.

A destroyer has approximately 200 sailors and 30 officers and 30 chief petty officers on it. Even in port, the ship has to maintain enough personal to respond in an emergency. So to give you a simple example, the CO and XO (commanding officer and executive officer) will never be on leave at the same time. One or the other will always be available.

Out of the 200 sailors, X number will be on leave or at school at any given point of time while the ship is in port. Enough sailors will be left on the ship so that it could go to sea at any point. If the ship is in dry dock, more sailors can be released because the ship isn't going anywhere.

One way to guarantee a sailor going on leave when the ship arrives in port is for the ship to go into dry dock. That way half the crew will probably get leave. The other approach is to have the sailor transferring to another ship. A sailor will usually have a couple of weeks leave in that situation.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Penguin
06-06-2015, 12:03 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I really appreciate it :)