Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Laundry

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 0
I'll be the first to admit that Carol probably sees things in the dirty laundry that she'd rather not see. This particular pair of underwear had her extra confused:



Before you start worrying that I have an imbalanced sphincter problem, let me explain this picture. No, my butt does not have an aiming problem. While I was at the KFS Conference in Hawaii, I forgot to bring my shoe shining cloth. I ended up using this clean pair of underwear to shine my brown shoes. Can't be looking like a slob at an important conference. So that's the shoe polish stain you see on the right side.

Well, I thought nothing of it and threw the pair of underwear in the laundry when I got home. As a general rule, the Cruz household usually avoids the topic of skidmarks in normal conversation. I guess the sight of this pair of underwear was just too vexing for Carol so she brought it to my attention. After my explanation, we had a pretty good laugh.

Don't know why I shared this with you other than the fact that my last two posts were all business, work related and devoid of humor. I'm back! Until next time -- C2

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Korean Flag Shipping Program

Saturday, September 26, 2009 5
The Korean Flag Shipping Program (KFS) is a government level program between the US and Republic of Korea (ROK) where, during a contingency, up to 59 Korean-flagged commercial vessels agree to bring fuel, supplies and ammunition to the Korean peninsula. The KFS vessels are in addition to all of the military vessels that are on tap to bring cargo during a contingency.

MSCO Korea's part in the KFS program is to conduct the annual on-hire ship surveys and communication checks with the KFS vessels. These surveys and comm checks help to ensure the ships are ready to do their mission when called upon. MSCO Korea also coordinates with the many different stakeholders to make this program happen. These stakeholders include US Pacific Command, US Transportation Command, Military Sealift Command, Sealift Logistics Command Far East, US Forces Korea, ROK Navy, ROK Ministry of National Defense and ROK Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.


Every year, MSCO Korea participates in the KFS Working Group Conference. We discuss issues such as ship requirements, KFS standard operating procedures, KFS activation procedures, KFS use during exercises and overall readiness.


"I caught a fish this big." Me giving a brief during the KFS Conference.


The KFS Conference was held in Pohang, Korea in 2008.



We visited the hometown of ROK President Lee Myung Bak near Pohang.


Enjoying a traditional Korean meal during the conference.



The 2009 KFS Conference was held in Hawaii. This picture is from a traditional Hawaiian luau that our group attended. That's Dr. Yu on the left, one of the KFS experts on the USFK staff. The relationship building between the US and ROK members during the conference is very important to the success of this program. I'm thinking that anything that begins with "lu" and ends in "au" is a good thing.



Mr. Chon is the senior Marine Transportation Specialist on my staff. He is key to making things happen with KFS.


The KFS team conducted an on-hire survey on the KFS ship behind us. We inspect the engineering spaces, communication equipment, bridge, safety equipment, etc. Just as important, during these surveys, we reaffirm the importance of the KFS program with the ship's Master and the many ROK officials that come down for the surveys.

Coincidentally, we've got another round of KFS communication checks and surveys this coming week. We've been able to make significant improvements to the KFS program during the last year. We always have to be ready. Until next time -- C2

Friday, September 25, 2009

OPDS

Friday, September 25, 2009 0
In the next couple of posts, I'd like to share some of the work projects that my command, Military Sealift Command Korea is involved with. We always have a lot on our plate. Our day to day mission is supporting the many Military Sealift Command ships that come to the Korean Theater of Operations (KTO). We're also heavily involved with operational plans, Joint Chief of Staff exercises, Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), Anti-terrorism/Force Protection, Navy Reserve support, mobile communication systems community relations and other programs and initiatives.

I'm getting ahead of myself though. Let me tell you about the OPDS - Offshore Petroleum Discharge System. It's basically a ship that can pump massive amounts of fuel or potable water through long flexible pipe from the sea to the shore where port facilities are inadequate or non-existent. Jets, tanks, humvees, etc all need fuel and this is one of the ways to get it to them, even without the use of a port.


This is the old legacy OPDS - the SS Chesapeake. It can deliver fuel to the beach from 4 miles away. No it's not sinking. That's just how the equipment is configured to do its mission.


Legacy OPDS


This is the new OPDS, or OPDS Future. The name of the ship is MV Vice Admiral Wheeler. It's a much improved system that delivers fuel from 8 miles away. This is a critical asset for the KTO. Large tankers or fuel barges hook up to the Wheeler. The Wheeler then pumps that fuel to the shore.


Here is the Wheeler at my workplace, Pier 8 in Busan. You can see the reels of yellow flexible pipe. Over to the left is the USNS Pomeroy, another MSC vessel that we support.

Earlier this month, MSCO Korea supported a very important OPDS training evolution at Pohang, Korea. During this training, the OPDS deployed all 8 miles of its pipe for the first time since initial acceptance trials. This was a huge accomplishment.


This wheeled amphibious vehicle is used to get the pipe to the beach. You can see the Wheeler way off in the background.




The buoys keep a section of the pipe afloat.


Imagine this important capability in a Katrina-type humanitarian assistance / disaster relief scenario. The OPDS would be capable of delivering life saving potable water from miles away. In my opinion, we need more of these vessels.


Here are some of the folks that made this evolution a success. There was heavy coordination between the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy to keep fishing boats and other marine traffic clear of the OPDS. We also worked with the ROK Marines to keep the beach secure. Our Navy Reservists set up the Mobile Sealift Operations Center (MSOC) communications van to stay appraised of the training evolution. The Navy Reservists from Expeditionary Port Unit 102 and NR Sealift Logistics Command Far East did a fantastic job supporting this important mission.


One more picture. This is my Operations Officer, Mr. Xavier Monroy. He was the key person in making this training evolution happen. Just one example of why he was named the 2009 US Forces Korea (USFK) Civilian Employee of the Year. Don't know what I'd do without him.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into some of the things that happen at work. It's challenging but very rewarding work. On any given day, I'm coordinating with ROK military, ROK government agencies, ship's crew, Navy Reservists from all over the country and of course our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine counterparts here in Korea.

Hmm, I'm wondering if you could pump Captain Morgan's rum through the OPDS pipe in a beach bonfire party scenario? Just kidding. I meant pina colada. Until next time -- C2

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baseball Games in Korea

Saturday, September 19, 2009 1
I've been to two Lotte Giants baseball games in the last month. These games are an absolute blast! There's so much energy and enthusiasm at these games. The Koreans are really into supporting their team. They've got many chants and cheers and special things they say for some of the players. Tickets are inexpensive and you can bring whatever food you want into the stadium. It really makes for a fun family or group outing.

I remember a particular San Diego Padres game at the old Jack Murphy stadium way back when. It's as if we had the Def Comedy Jam sitting behind us - just a bunch of constant profanity and yapping. I offered the guy behind me five bucks if he could be quiet for five minutes. He couldn't do it. That was during my hot-head days. I'm surprised a fight didn't break out because of that encounter. Not to say that all games in the US are like that. Just saying. At the time, Carol and I didn't have kids yet. Anyway, I'm very appreciative of the family friendly atmosphere you get here at the Lotte Giants ballgames, and the same type of atmosphere for most of Korea for that matter.


That's Ms. Kang on the left, our Admin Assistant at work. She's just a lot of fun to be around. Jake has learned to do the traditional Korean picture pose. V for victory!


They have cute little Korean girls as "ballboys" for the team.


Even the umpires are slim in Korea.


The entire crowd makes their own pom-poms from newspapers.


Jake got a foul ball at the game! Actually, it was given to him by the man sitting in front of him. When someone gets a foul ball, the crowd chants "Give it to a kid! Give it to a kid!" In Korean of course. No, Jake's teeth aren't that bad. He was chomping on a chocolate moon pie, hence the stains in his teeth.


Yup, cheerleaders at the ballgame. They really get the crowd going. I know there are different opinions on cheerleaders. Traditionalists say they don't belong at ballgames. Heck, I say have cheerleaders at hockey games, PTA meetings, Six Party talks, you name it. Just don't have them at a military homecoming where spouses are greeting their husbands after a long deployment. I've seen claws come out when this happens. I digress.


I've been to two ballgames and have seen a very public marriage proposal at each game. They also do this cool thing called the "kiss camera." You can see the stadium camera pan around the crowd on the big screen TV. Whoever the camera stops on, those people have to kiss - even if they are total strangers. Makes for a lot of laughs.


They sell just about everything at the ballgame except for peanuts and popcorn. They even have these portable beer kegs on vendors' backs. Gotta get me one of those.


So near the end of the game, about the 7th inning or so, they hand out these orange plastic backs to everyone. People tie them to their heads, kinda like a rally cap. It's absolutely hilarious! Quite the sight. The bags serve a dual purpose. At the end of the game, people stuff the bags with all of their trash and then deposit the trash in designated piles. Ingenious! Wonder if that would work in the US?



That's Mr. Yun, one of our Marine Transportation Assistants sporting a creative (and kinda scary) way to use your bag.


We will definitely hit more baseball games next season. Until next time -- C2

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lotte Giants Ballgame - Sneak Peek

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 0
We finally made it out to a Lotte Giants baseball game at the local stadium. It was an absolute blast. Since it's late over here, I'll give you a quick teaser:

Yup. That's the woman I married.

Needless to say, more to follow...Until next time - C2

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Matching Outfits

Sunday, September 6, 2009 1
There's a cultural phenomenon here in Korea that may interest only me. Couples wear matching outfits, especially newlyweds on their honeymoons. Seriously. Here's proof:










You can even get matching shoes.




I took these pictures just the other day. Not only do they match, but they're wearing pink with flowers. Take his Man Card away right now and replace it with a Fresca. This picture may be the quintessential shot of true love.


At least he gains some cool points by toting around the floatie.


Admit it. It's pretty darn cute isn't it? We'd be that much closer to world peace if everyone was okay with this stuff. I took this shot as this couple was posing for another picture. You can tell they're posing because of the "V" sign she's making with her fingers. In the US, we use the "V" sign as "peace". In Korea, the "V" is for "victory". I think this guy's victory is that he married a hot girl even though he's wearing those shorts.

This would've been the perfect blog post for Valentine's Day. Once again, my timing is off. Keep your eye out on the next blog post where Carol and I will be sporting our matching outfits. Until next time -- C2
 
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