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Stacey Johnson onboard HMS Bulwark

Hi – my name is Stacey Johnson and I work onboard HMS Bulwark.  My main job is as a Logistician (Catering Services) – most people outside of the Royal Navy would call me a Steward.  My job is not just about being a Steward though – I have lots of other jobs like Fireparty, Replenishment at Sea (RAS) duty, First Aid Party, SA 80 Weapon Handler and helping with Amphibious Operations. 

My aim is to tell you a little bit about my week whilst the ship is on Taurus 09. 

22/2/09 (at sea)
Today I start my diary – the Commander (Logistics) (the big Boss) told me so.  Here goes….

I was the Duty Steward. I started work at 0750 to take over the other watch.  Breakfast seems to take so much longer these days as we have nearly twice the number of officers that we normally have.  Bulwark has 35 normally but at the moment we have about 80.  This is because we have the Battle Staff who are running the whole deployment onboard.  Because Bulwark is designed to support amphibious operations the staff are made up of Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, United States Navy, Canadian Navy and Dutch Marines.  So it makes for an interesting mix!  Mind you since I joined the ship nearly a year ago we have had Russians, French, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian Marines and even Australian and New Zealand sailors onboard so we are getting used to hosting non-RN people.  Once breakfast was finished we started on our morning jobs. My morning job is cleaning and maintaining the wardroom. In the wardroom I have to make sure all the tables are polished, everywhere is vacuumed and everything is properly secured in case the ship roles around in rough sea.  Mind you it takes a really rough sea to move Bulwark around.  I also have to lay up the tables for lunch. I had my stand easy (break) at 1000 and went for some fresh air.  We are now near the Straits of Gibraltar and the weather is really warming up – much better than the drizzle we had to put up with when we left Plymouth.  I went on my lunch break at 1100 and was back in the Wardroom for 1150 to help serve lunch. Once we had cleared away from lunch at around 1345 we got a few hours off until dinner because it was a Saturday routine – this means all the sailors and marines not on watch can have the afternoon off. So I went to my mess and watched a DVD with the girls – it was good to relax for a few hours as it seems we have been on the go since we sailed. I cleaned for rounds at 1800 then went to get my own dinner at 1830  Once I had finished my dinner I went up to the wardroom to start on the officer’s dinner. We finished dinner at about 2130.  I went down to my mess and had a chat with one of my friends for a bit before I went to bed.

23/2/09 (at Sea)

I got up today at 0530 so I would be ready in time for breakfast.  Mind you at this point I was glad because I knew I was off watch today. Breakfast started at 0700. The other watch came up to relieve us from breakfast so that we could go on ours. I went down to breakfast and had poached egg on toast, it was quite nice actually. Usually I don’t really like poached egg on toast because the bread goes soggy, but it was nice. When I finished my breakfast I went to my mess and cleaned for morning rounds, then I had to report the showers before going back to the wardroom at 0905.  When I get there I just get straight into my morning jobs. During 1100 to 1200 our watch prepares lunch for the other watch. We make sure all the salad and rolls are cut up and put out on the cooler, we make sure the bar is open with lemons and ice on it and we also bring up things that might be needed during lunch like bread, milk and fruit. Once 1200 comes the other watch takes over then our off watch begins. I like it when we get our off watches because it means we have a chance to get fit by going to the gym or even running round the upper deck. So I went and had my lunch.  I am trying to eat healthy at the moment – most sailors do at the beginning of a deployment. I had jacket potato with tuna and salad. It was quite nice. I prefer to have something light for lunch so that I don’t fill myself up too much for the gym. Once I had my lunch I let it settle for about half an hour then I got ready and went to the gym. I did some cycling, running and light weights in the gym.  Its hard work at the moment getting back into it.  Once I came back from the gym I got showered and changed in my night rig.  After dinner I gave my mum a ring on one of the phones that we have onboard. It was weird talking to her. It feel like I have been away for her for ages. She told me that she has sent me a parcel so I’m quite excited, I know it will only be little stupid stuff but it will be nice. After I talked to mum I decided to get an early night and went to bed – just as well because the clocks have been put forward an hour tonight as we pass Gibraltar.

24/2/09 (at Sea)

Its Tuesday today.  Mind you it doesn’t really feel like it. I was duty steward today so I was a bit rushed off my feet. We are given a list of all the things a duty steward should do for the day.  So I spent most  of the day just trying to get through it all. I made croutons at around 0915 for the soup at lunch. Then I prepared stand easy by getting masses of biscuits ready and putting the tea and coffee out. Then I cleared it all away. Here’s a question for you – why does it always seems like every cup of tea officers have they insist on using a different cup each time?  Well that’s what it seems like to me anyway.  Then all of a sudden, without any notice, a fire exercise was piped over the main broadcast.  My job when this happens is to close up as a member of the ship’s First Aid Party.  The compartment on fire was the main galley.  We had some exercise casualties who I helped to treat.  We have to practice this sort of thing regularly – its not as if we can ring for the fire brigade or the ambulance when we are in the middle of the ocean!  Because of that every member of the crew, from the Captain (the really, really big boss)  all the way down to little old me have to be qualified firefighters and first aiders.  And we are good at it too!  Once the exercise was over we got back to normal; that meant serving lunch.  After lunch everyone apart from me  cleaned glasses for the official reception scheduled for Friday in Malta – we are expecting about 450 people to visit us so there are a lot of glasses to be cleaned. I had to stay in the wardroom and make sure everything was ready for dinner and all the tables were laid up. After we had finished dinner I went to the Naval Airmen’s mess to say happy birthday to one of the guys. They were all having a non-booze party and singing on the wii -  it was quite funny to watch but a bit hard on the ears!  My ears were still ringing when I went to bed at about 2230.

25/2/09 (at Sea)

Today I woke up for breakfast as usual. Usual jobs until 1200 and then I was off watch – quite lucky really because the ship was doing a RAS and it was a big one.  We took nearly 100 pallets of stores, food and ammunition from RFA Fort Austin. During my off watch I went to the gym (where I watched the stores coming down from the Flight Deck) and then watched a DVD. I watched some of ‘Season 1 Heroes’. It was a good story really.  I am trying out a new idea this trip.  I am watching boxed DVD series to keep me occupied at night. In the middle of this our mess had a shot at the quiz night.  We came last – we were rubbish - but it was a funny night!   I went and got one of the hot dogs that were on sale.  I only bought one because my Chief (the boss) and Petty Officer (the mini Boss) were making and selling them.  I knew if I didn’t buy one they would remember.

26/2/09 (at sea)

Last day of my diary. I was on duty today but I wasn’t duty steward. We had to finish preparing for the reception so we moved all the alcohol and drinks down to the venue.  In the afternoon we had to move all the glasses to the same place (the vehicle deck), I wasn’t very amused! Tomorrow will be a busy day because of the getting alongside.  The Commodore (the really, really, really big boss) will have a lunch party and Bulwark will host the reception; mind you they are normally good fun for us too. My friend Steph is in the ceremonial guard – the guard conduct the ceremonial sunset which brings the reception to an end.  Steph has said that she’s going to sample the delights of Valetta after the reception has finished.  I don’t think I will make it out, I’ll save myself for shopping on Saturday!  Once I had finished my dinner tonight I gave my sister a phone call.  It was really good to hear from here because I don’t get to speak to her that much. She was really excited about the ship going to Singapore later in the year – we will be able to get together because she lives there. After I talked to her I decided to log on to the computer and write up the last day of my diary.  Tomorrow we get to Valetta……but that’s another story!