Well, Yoni is officially gone, off to spend 6-8 weeks on the USS Ashland as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
While there was no official send-off with flags and balloons and a brass band (too many people and too much stuff to on-load, I guess), I did get a chance to visit the ship with Yoni a couple of days before he left. We weren’t on board for long – Yoni was just dropping off some of his bags – but it was long enough to check out the accommodations and get a sense for what it might be like to live on a US Navy vessel.
First of all, I have to say that ships were not built for people as tall as Yoni. Putting aside having to step through every porthole/doorway and the million and a half opportunities to trip there are onboard every day, Yoni barely cleared the light fixtures. I’m not convinced that he won’t come back with a permanently bruised head. At least he fit in his bed – even if it was just barely.
Speaking of beds. In the Officers’ berthings (apparently that’s the ship-appropriate word for room-where-people-sleep), or at least in Yoni’s, there were 4 beds – 2 sets of bunk beds. It was a small room, and that seemed crowded.
At least until I saw the Enlisted berthings. Their beds are – no joke – 4 high. And these are not rooms with high ceilings. And each set of beds is pushed right up against a second set of beds lengthwise, which I’m sure makes for some awkward accidental middle of the night cuddling.
Oh, and the stairs might as well be ladders. I thought about wearing a skirt the day we visited; let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t. It must be an excellent workout, though, just moving around the ship all day.
Even based on the 45 minutes I spent on board, it’s hard to imagine being able to live on a ship like that for two months or more. It certainly gives me new respect for people who elect to do so. I’m curious to see how it plays out for Yoni. I’m sure he’ll make the best of it, however the actual experience is, but here’s hoping he learns how not to bump his head everywhere he goes! It’s the little things.