The Ship is Life

The Ship is Life

By Dan Powers


I am seeing a lot of posts about USS Fitzgerald. There is a whole story here that is being missed concerning the entire crew. So I am posting this so you folks who have never sailed the seas on an American warship get an idea of what it is like. We laugh and joke about the antics of sailors in seaports across the globe. It’s not fun and games when a ship is underway. One of the tightest bonds in the military is that of a ships crew. When you’re on a ship in the vast never ending ocean it’s just you, the rest of the crew and the ship. The ship is life.

Day to day everyone aboard that ship has a job. Be it preparing food to feed the crew, maintaining weapons systems or keeping the propulsion system running in good order. Its a 24/7 function.

As everyone goes through the days and nights performing the various jobs, they run drills. There is constant drilling for every scenario imaginable at sea. You drill for combat, be it offensive or the ships defense. You drill for fires. A fire on board a ship in the middle of the ocean is the worse possible scenario due to the extremely dangerous materials that ship is carrying. The ship is life. You drill for collisions at sea where the ship takes on water and you have to isolate the compartments or stop the water from flooding in. The ship is life.

During these drills, everyone has an assigned place or they are assigned to a damage control team. Every sailor on board a Navy warship is trained to save the ship, because the ship is life.


In the case of the Fitzgerald, the majority of the crew was asleep when the collision occurred. Imagine being abruptly awoken from the impact. From drilling so much, you already know that the General Quarters alarm is coming so you are already getting your shit together and you are on your way to your station (I am talking a time frame of seconds). The damage control teams are gathering equipment. The situation is being assessed as the ship closes down all passageways and hatches to isolate damage or fires so it doesn’t spread because the ship is life. The hull has been breached and water is flooding in. A DC team is there trying to shore up the hole as they have been trained to do. The water won’t stop coming in. Those compartments have to be sealed before the water spreads to the rest of the ship because the ship is life.

Imagine finding out or knowing that some of your crewmates were sealed in those compartments and living with that knowledge the rest of your life. There is no fault on the part of the crew that performed as expected from constant drilling at sea. The ship is life. By saving the ship they saved the rest of the crew.

I hope this helps some of you understand how dangerous the sea is and how decisions have to be made in an instant.

My prayers are with the families of the lost crew and with the crew that saved the ship.


13 thoughts on “The Ship is Life

  1. Patrick Conley says:

    WRT The USS Fitzgerald incident.

    They performed as they have been trained. The way all of us have done while serving our Country. For all its fun, liberty ports, steel beach picnics, etc… it is a very hazardous, dangerous job.
    Disaster waits around every corner 24/7. Sailors remain vigilant around the clock in port or out to sea. Beautiful weather or amid a raging storm. At time of War or time of Peace. The threat never lessens, never goes away and never rests. As we always said, “When something goes wrong on a Ship, you can’t walk home”.
    I salute the builders of this fine warship and the Sailors that kept her upright and brought her home. Home to sail and fight again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gary L. Chadwick says:

    Well stated. If a person has never aboard a ship they have no clue. It is also impossible to explain to them. The only way to understand is to live the life of a US NAVY sailor.
    The Fitzgerald is a prime example. The job they did to save the ship was due to their training. Well done and yes some of us are no longer active but YES we have your back. Sail on with pride knowing you did the best you could do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roger Achelpohl FTCM US Navy Retired says:

    Thank you to all the watch standers that protected the ships I slept on for so many years🇺🇸


  4. Kevyn Kennedy says:

    Our MMC used to tell us the “closest land is three miles straight down”. Collision/fire at sea is the worst nightmare.

    Life aboard–you can’t explain it from inside, can’t understand it from the beach

    We have the watch shipmates.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Howard D. Wood ITCM retired U.S. NAVY says:

    My heart and condolences go out to those seven Sailors and their families/friends on board USS FITZGERALD. Fair Winds and Following Seas Shipmates…. I also want to congratulate the CREW of the USS FITZGERALD on a job well done saving your ship from sinking and doing what was needed to bring her back to port. Salute!!!!


  6. People always underestimate the Sailor and he is never given the credit he deserves, Deepest Sympathy and Most heart felt thank’s for a job well done and fair wind’s my brother’s. RIP.


  7. Mac says:

    It’s unfortunate that their DC training had to be tested in this fashion. I hope those lost rest easy. I wonder why the loss of life could not have been avoided in the first place?


  8. Tracy says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who have lost there loved ones! God Bless our Brave Sailors who gave there lives for us!!!


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