The day of a cadet on board starts at 0745 with morning formation and then doesn’t end until 1600. Their day consist of hard work. In the Caribbean, it can get very hot. That means that you sweat and start to feel gross. Because the work day is long, cadets sometimes choose to just throw their boiler suit on the ground and hop into bed because they’re exhausted.
When you have 70 cadets in the hold, doing the exact same thing, the hold can become disgusting and unhygienic. To prevent this, nightly hold inspections and personal inspections. Every night at 1900, 1/C cadets that have division leader, adjutant, or high positions on the ship, inspect the holds. When they inspect a hold, they look at the overall cleanliness of the entire hold, the racks (beds), and the heads (bathrooms). Here’s something that you may find a little unusual. The person conducting the inspection also considers the smell. If the hold smells good, it’s a sign that the cadets who live there usually take care of it and make sure they take care of themselves. Holds that smell bad are bad signs that cadets aren’t cleaning what they should be. They might not be taking care of themselves by showering or doing laundry.
Cleaning the hold is like doing chores. Hold captains usually make a schedule showing what cadet is responsible for cleaning what. My hold has cleaning at 1815 every night and the schedule is posted by 0900 every morning. This makes sure that people know they have a responsibility that night. Once the hold inspections are complete, personal inspections start. 4/C and 3/C cadets make their way to the Helo deck in their classroom black uniform and wait. These inspections are to make sure that the grooming standards are being followed and that they are carrying a knife and a working flashlight.
Why carry a knife? There are a lot of lines laid out on the decks and if you get caught in a line, it can become very dangerous, very quickly. The knife is supposed to be sharp enough to allow you to cut your way out of the line.
Why carry a flashlight? If you were on a sinking ship you could assume that the lights
would go out and it would be pitch black. If you don’t have a source of light, you’re in trouble. A working flashlight is critical on any ship as is a knife. Inspections ensure that everyone is taking care of themselves and have those two necessary items. Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned that 1900 is a perfect time to get laundry done!
Since we don’t have the ability to pull the ship over to attend religious, we have an MMA favorite, Father Houston, onboard. Father Houston is the pastor at the Parish of Saint Rose, a Catholic church in Massachusetts. But when he is at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, he tells everyone that he is whatever they need him to be. That means that if a Jewish cadet wanted to talk to a rabbi, Father Houston would be a rabbi and so on. He joined our cruise in Colombia and has held Catholic mass every night in the Seatorium since then. Cadets take advantage of Father Houston being on board and often seek him out. Aside from religious reasons, he is also always available for counseling or even just a great conversation.
The joy of waking up and not having to worry about what to wear to school or work has to be one of the best feelings ever. You get extra time to sleep and your outfit is already planned out for you! While on the ship, engineers have one work outfit, and deckies have two. They both wear the boiler suits but engineers are only allowed to wear the long-sleeved boiler suits. One reason for this is due to the high temperatures of oils and hot pipes. It’s easy to burn yourself. The boiler suit acts as a barrier to these and can help protect your skin.
Deckies prefer the short-sleeved boiler suit because they are often outside in the hot sun while they work.
Boiler suits are worn with steel-toed boots and usually a hard hat. During freshman orientation, cadets are given their sea bag that has two long-sleeved boiler suits, own long-sleeved boiler suit, steel-toed boots, and a hard hat to match their class color.
Once they receive these items, there is no excuse for anyone on the ship to not have every piece of the boiler suit uniform. The second option that the deckies use is called their “at-seas”. This is a blue MMA polo worn with khaki shorts, a belt, and sneakers. They usually wear these when they are in class or training, just to be more comfortable. They are called the at-sea uniform because it can only be worn at sea! During the day, it’s pretty easy to tell someone’s major based on what they are wearing.
In order to keep some regiment while on sea term, classroom blacks are required for dinner. For TAMMA cadets, this is their khaki uniforms.
When cadets are not in a duty role, meaning training, standing watch, or doing maintenance, they are allowed to wear what is called Buc gear. This is basically any clothing that says MMA or has an affiliation with the school. After 1930 basically everyone is in Buc gear for the rest of the night. It’s a nice way to relax and just let go of the stress from the day.
I don’t mind uniforms because as I said, I would rather get an extra five minutes of sleep.