U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY --
When a port visit is in sight, Marines and Sailors are quick to make plans on where they want to visit once they get on land. Thankfully, the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) has dedicated sailors who assist the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) when pulling into domestic and foreign ports before the visit begins.
Boatswain’s mates work behind the scenes and on the decks to make sure porting the amphibious assault ship goes as smooth as possible.
“The process of pulling into port starts days prior,” said Boatsw8ain’s Mate First Class Elisha Chastain. “We begin by conducting maintenance and inventorying all of our equipment.”
After all of the gear is prepped, the planning begins. The navigation brief provides details about where the ship is going, the condition of the pier and where all of the lines are being placed. In total, approximately 15 mooring lines are used to keep the ‘Big Five’ pier side.
Chastain continued, “Once we pull pier side, we cast the lines to the pier and the crew heaves them tight and secures the ship to the pier.”
Pulling into port is only half of the job. When the liberty port concludes or the training exercise is completed, the Bataan has to get back underway. Boatswain’s mates make it possible for the Marines and Sailors aboard to begin their next transit safely.
Each port comes with its own set of challenges, which includes the language barrier between Sailors on the Bataan and the host nation’s crew handling the lines on the pier. Boatswain’s mates learn to work with a new team every time they pull into an unfamiliar location. They have to be able to adapt and overcome road blocks every time they cast lines from territorial waters.
“Each pier we pull into overseas is different,” said Chastain. “They are not like the pier we are used to pulling into every week in Norfolk.”
Similar to all work sections aboard the Bataan, Boatswain’s mates work as a close-knit team to accomplish their mission. Working hand-in-hand with their fellow Sailors around the globe instills a sense of pride within their community.
“The most rewarding part about my job is seeing my junior Sailors step up throughout the work-ups and into deployment,” said Boatswain’s Mate First Class Eric Anderson. “When I see a sailor doing well it lets me know our mission is being accomplished.”