The Gunnery Officer

6 11 2010

The Gunnery Officer aboard USS DECATUR (DDG-73) observes a gunnery exercise.

He didn’t notice me, and luckily he wasn’t moving while I made this three-exposure HDR.

The Gunnery Officer on USS DECATUR (DDG-73) observes a gunnery exercise


Condition 3

6 11 2010

A Gunners Mate onboard USS DECATUR (DDG-73) makes his M-240B machine gun “Condition 3.”

Condition 4 means no rounds are loaded into the gun, and the weapon is on “safe”

Condition 3 means that rounds are loaded into the gun, but the chamber is empty and the bolt is forward, with the weapon on “safe.”

Condition 1 means that rounds are loaded into the gun, the chamber is empty (this is specific to the M-240, a 9mm for example will have the chamber loaded) and the bolt is back, with the weapon on “safe.”

There is no condition 2 for this weapon.

I like guns, if you haven’t been able to tell, its just much more difficult to get to shoot them than a camera. The mechanics, use, and combination of craft and art of both devices fascinate me. They are also yin and yang to each other: passive to the others active. Peaceful to the others destructive. Silent to the others cacophony.

I love to shoot guns with my camera. Just not the other way around!

A Gunners Mate makes his M-240B rifle "Condition 3"

Mighty ‘Mo

17 08 2010

I was able to go out in a boat, closer to the USS Missouri than most tourists get to go. Lucky me! And I knew that thousands of pictures exist of the awe-inspiring USS Missouri, so I wanted to do something different. It was a bland, dreary morning, everything was gray. Perfect time to shoot B&W.

This is a one exposure HDR, as there was no way I was getting three steady shots from that boat! But thanks to RAW, I was able to eke out a little extra soul.

I dont like making photographs and then doing the whole “old photo” thing on them usually, unless it REALLY brings out something extra. In this case it didn’t, however I wanted the Mighty ‘Mo to look as though its been here for years, made history, and still gives the sense that it’ll be here for years to come. Hopefully She looks as timeless in this photograph as she is in reality.

B&W HDR of Mighty 'Mo

Sunset over ABOT

15 05 2010

Approximately 12 miles off the coast of Iraq lie the Al Basrah Oil Terminal, or ABOT (say it like “Eh Bot”) and its smaller sister terminal,the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal, or KAAOT (say it like “Kay Ought”) . Together, they form one of the primary sources of oil income for Iraq. Four Supertankers can refuel at once at ABOT, a process which can take several days, with dozens of tankers lining up to wait their turn.

ABOT is a singularly ugly, miserable place to be. Hot, filthy, and insect ridden. Waste oil is washed from the decks directly into the gulf waters, and the oil slick surrounding the terminal is perpetual. Bullet holes from the SEAL operation which took over the terminal at the outset of the war still riddle the terminal.

US Service members are currently stationed on ABOT as part of our effort to rebuild and protect Iraq during its post-liberation vulnerability. A team of Sailors, some deployed there for a year or more, live in reconditioned shipping containers, stacked up into a sort of neighborhood. Living conditions of the Military are actually not bad, considering, with cold A/C, email,clean  beds, a galley, a small gym, etc. Anything the military could do to make conditions livable has been done. Barring the fact that it’s still on a filthy, dangerous oil terminal.

This photo is a sunset over the command center for the defense of ABOT and KAAOT, at one extreme end of ABOT.

Several ships, of various types, surround ABOT and are on constant patrol protecting it from anything and everything. The Iranian, Iraqi, and US Navies all operate within sight of each other and tensions can get high.

When three Navies, billions of dollars in resources, tankers from nations the world over, and two international borders are all so close that they can nearly throw rocks at each other in the 100 degree and up weather, mistakes can not be made. The consequences could be disastrous. Thanks to the professionalism, perseverance, and dogged determination of these Sailors, mistakes don’t happen.

For years now, these Sailors have stood this watch. Few have heard about them and what they do here on ABOT. Think of them, please next time you put gas in your tank. They were most likely there when that gas was pumped into the tanker that brought it to you.

Heading Home

10 05 2010

On the first day of USS Decatur’s journey home after 5 months away, the Navigator sets his sights on something much farther away than the next course change.

Rifle Qualifications

10 05 2010

Even in the middle of the ocean, Sailors need to maintain their ability to accurately fire various weapons.

Here a Sailor qualifies to shoot an M-16 rifle. At sea, the Bridge crew tries to maintain the ship on a course to minimize wind and rocking motions, and the Gunners Mates and Fire Controlmen set up and run a makeshift gun range in order to maintain the proficiency of over 250 crew members.

Firing the Shot Line

10 05 2010

Two Sailors fire a “Shot Line” from an M-14 to a refueling ship at sea. The shot line is the first step during an UNREP (Underway Replenishment) that enables the Sailors to heave a fuel hose from one ship to another.

The firing of these Shot Lines is something of an art, as the Gunners Mate must fire a slow-moving rubber projectile into the wind, to the other ship that is rocking in the waves, at a specific target, all the while trying not to hit somebody, break a window, or miss completely.

I’ve done it. It’s harder than it sounds. These guys are good.