Year One Aboard USS San Diego: A Personal Reflection
Guest Post By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Joseph M. Buliavac, USS San Diego Public Affairs
Like many people, I tend to reflect on my life at the end of the year. This time around I focused almost solely on my time aboard my new ship.
In August 2014 I received orders to amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) to fill an independent duty billet.
I’d be the only photojournalist and public affairs specialist aboard the ship, and while this wasn’t necessarily new to me – I had done it temporarily in 2011 aboard USS Comstock (LSD 45) and at the Submarine Learning Center Detachment for the last two years – that didn’t mean I wasn’t nervous.
Finally, on Jan. 6, 2015 after three days of travelling, a group of my new shipmates and I touched down on the flight deck of San Diego in a pair of MV-22 Ospreys.
The next day I started learning my way around the ship, meeting the people in my division and my department, and getting settled into my new desk aboard my new ship. Within weeks I was comfortably doing my job, regularly taking pictures and writing articles.
I found the crew exemplified a “team first” attitude and quickly accepted me as well as the other Sailors I’d arrived with. Before long our hard work was being noticed, appreciated, and recognized.
On Feb. 25, 2015 we returned from the ship’s maiden deployment to our homeport of San Diego, but the work wasn’t finished yet. We had to complete an ammunition offload at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach in April and later transit to BAE Systems’ San Diego Shipyard for an extended maintenance period in May. Both required long days and a continued “team first” attitude.
Before we left for Seal Beach, the ship was recognized with its second consecutive Battle Effectiveness (Battle “E”) Award for work done in 2014. San Diego and her crew would continue to be recognized and rewarded for their hard work throughout 2015. During the shipyard maintenance period I took pictures of multiple award ceremonies recognizing individuals for their accomplishments and perseverance, as well as promotion and advancement ceremonies.
As my first year aboard this ship comes to a close I can truly say that I’m happy I took these orders. While no job is perfect, I’ve been impressed with this crew almost everyday I’ve been on board. I’ve seen shipmates take care of each other, sacrifice for each other, and lend each other a hand on a regular basis. I would be lying if I said everyday on San Diego has been an adventure or a good day. It hasn’t. But I’ve had a lot more good days than bad days. I’m proud to be part of team San Diego.