Piloting class keeps forces safe
USPS teaches basics to naval reservists
In mid-February 2007, I received a call from Jim Martinelli, a Saddle Brook, N.J., police lieutenant and chief petty officer with U.S. Naval Reserve Inshore Boat Unit 25.
Martinelli requested piloting training for the members of his unit. They would soon be deployed to the Persian Gulf and wanted to avoid straying into hostile Iranian waters.
Delighted and honored by the request, I immediately enlisted the help of fellow Northern New Jersey Sail & Power Squadron members Ronnie S. Phillips, David J. Meshulam, Christopher Kelly and Louise Kelly.
We quickly obtained Chart Smart manuals from the Barnegat Bay Power Squadron and designed a piloting program that included plotting, determining location and, most importantly, calculating quick and dirty dead reckoning positions while under way.
We met with unit members several times and drilled them on the 60D = ST method of plotting DR positions on paper chart course lines. They hadn’t received much instruction and would be required to plot DR positions every 10 minutes while on duty.
The unit shipped out in July 2007. That December I received an e-mail from the Middle East. The e-mail said I should “be happy to know that we haven’t run any boats aground, and we are navigating very well as a result of your tutelage.”
When the unit returned safely in September 2008, Martinelli presented our team with a U.S. ensign that had flown on one of the unit’s patrol boats. He also requested official USPS recognition of our efforts. In response, Chief Commander Creighton C. Maynard presented letters of commendation to the squadron volunteers at the 2009 USPS Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. Deeply honored by the recognition, we will remember the experience as one of life’s special moments.
As a postscript, Martinelli has once again contacted USPS to request training for another reserve group at its Annapolis headquarters. The Educational Department will handle this training.