Page 57: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (June 2021)

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The Final Word

Book Review:

Steaming to Djibouti

By Captain Sean P. Tortora he following excerpts are from tion running down my face. I could see spoken, witty, maybe even in an aloof the new travelogue by Cap- the ship making its approach to the pier sort of way; he would be wearing a neat- tain Sean P. Tortora, titled, as I stood there silently waiting, thor- ly pressed uniform with eagles on his

T“Steaming to Djibouti…My oughly soaked to my skin in sweat… collar, clean shaven, with salt-and-pep-

First Hitch on an Underway Replenish- …The ship was the USNS SHIN- per colored hair. He would be medium ment Ship.” Join a motivated young NECOCK T-AOK 1, which was built as height and medium build and, ? nally, merchant marine of? cer on his ? rst jour- an experimental class, loosely based on would be of the utmost intelligence…. ney onboard a venerable navy auxiliary the design of the U.S. Navy’s MISPIL- With that the door opened, and there sit- steamship. Accompany him through LION AO- 105 class of underway re- ting in a ? lthy room, at a desk covered the convoluted reporting for duty pro- plenishment ships built after World War in papers that were in no real order and cess through his truly surreal ? rst tour II. At 40,000 tons the SHINNECOCK bedraggled, sat a huge Cro-Magnon-like onboard. Meet the oddball characters was 725 feet in length overall, with a man. He had the head of a bulldog, with in the crew and follow their outland- beam of 96 feet, and a deep draft of 37 the jowls and frown lines to match, the ish daily routine. Listen in to the truly feet. Her 35,000-horsepower steam tur- little hair he possessed was gray and in a jaw-dropping crew interactions. Follow bine powered twin screws with a single comb over, and he had the body of Jab- along through the myriad of hilarious rudder for a design speed of 25 knots. ba the Hutt from those Star Wars ? lms. adventures and astonishing experienc- The ship was painted U.S. Navy haze He wore a way too small dingy, food- es that can only be described as unbe- gray and had a big number “1” on each stained, yellowed under-shirt with rips lievable. Along the way, you will ? nd side of the bow next to the anchors… under his huge armpits. His immense fat yourself alternating between shock and …As I stood outside the Captain’s of- rolls billowed out from under his t-shirt. chuckles as you can’t wait to see what ? ce door with the Chief Mate while he But the worst was yet to see, for when happens next! knocked, I felt a sense of nervousness he stood up, as I entered the of? ce, he combined with a bit of excitement and was not wearing pants; rather, he had on “…Standing on a pier, alone, waiting adventure. Here I was getting ready to a pair of underwear, briefs at that, the for a ship... How did I arrive here…? I meet my ? rst Captain on my ? rst ship old “tightie-whities.” You would think came into this world Francis Kowalski as Third Of? cer… As I prepared to walk this objectionable mess would have had

Natale… into the Captain’s of? ce, I contemplated the decency to, at the very least, wear …I stood statue straight in the middle that I always had an idealistic character- boxers, being so inclined to go so in- of pier with my suitcase at my right side, ization of my ? rst Captain. He would be formally. Nope, not this cretin; he was my briefcase hanging in my left hand, a maritime academy graduate, maybe sticking with the bikini bottoms for men. wearing my chino slacks, blue blazer, even a Ft. Schuyler alum, middle-aged They were God-awful, stained yellow, tie, and Vuarnet brand cat-eye sunglass- with a weathered look, but very digni- with blowouts around the legs and rear, es, all the while drenched with perspira- ? ed and masculine. He would be well- including strategically placed holes. 57

MR #6 (50-58).indd 57 6/4/2021 12:03:47 PM

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