While on a weekend getaway from Washington, DC, Dave Ramish took his girlfriend Ilana Freedman sailing for some outdoor fun off Yorktown. They hit the jackpot by observing a rare Saturday departure of a Navy warship from the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.
We set out with anticipation after a chilly, drizzly morning into clearing skies and warmer temperatures. The young couple were about to unwittingly fulfill the Chamber Alliance freedoms to have fun and be curious. They also got some quiet time up on the bow, with romantic privacy.
Along the way, we heard a report from the US Coast Guard office of Hampton Roads of a Right Whale siting, somewhere in the middle of Chesapeake Bay. I found that incredulous and radioed to ask where. The response was vague. These things weight 70 tons. I figured it was a hoax.
Dave had last sailed ten years ago when he spent a week cruising the Chesapeake Bay. He was worried he forgot a lot, but he did admirably on the helm all day long.
We sailed under the Coleman Bridge on a southwest wind and zipped past the USS Mahan, which had been in dock at Naval Weapons for a week. We turned and transited back under the bridge, only to hear a loud horn alarm.
That was word from the top of the bridge that it was about to open. The next visual showed traffic stopped in both directions. For some reason, the Mahan took a long time to weigh anchor and leave the pier. That left traffic backed up considerably on both sides of Route 17. As the ship steamed toward the Coleman, I radioed to inform my position.
“Navy Warship 72, this is the sailing vessel Deadline on Channel 13, alerting you to my position off your port bow. You can’t see me because the bridge pylon is blocking your view, but I’m holding station on the north side of the river for your passage to the south.” The ship radioed back that it was proceeding through.
To my surprise, the Mahan steered straight down river instead of to the Yorktown side where the channel lies. That put it within 200 yards of us as it drove by. On the other side, a Moran tug chugged by. The effect was a double wake that rocked us for a minute. It was the ultimate Yorktown river charter.
The Mahan is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, named for a seapower naval theorist Alfred Thayer-Mahan. That sounds obscure, but in fact it’s the fourth Navy ship named for him. The Mahan is a frequent visitor to Yorktown, where it replenishes munitions presumably fired in the Middle East into Syria or other hot spots.
The ship is 21 years old and is attached to Destroyer Squadron 22 to protect a Navy aircraft carrier at sea. A squadron is a mighty fortress.
Future social worker
Ilana Freedman is working on her master’s in social work at Washington University in St. Louis. “I’m deciding whether to work in foster care and homeless children or adult sentencing for federal offenders.” She has worked summers and part-time in both fields.
“I’m currently working with a model program for Track 2 federal offenders. We have four people we’re working with. They have assignments and meetings to complete. As they complete the work, their meetings are phased down from once a week to every other week to once a month, and without serving any prison time.
“Examples of Track 2 offenses include fraud, conspiracy, and possession of meth with intention to sell. But not sexually based or serial crimes.” I thought meth was a state crime. “Not if you cross state lines to sell it. Then it’s federal.”
Golden ticket of opportunity
The model program sounded pretty good for the offenders. “Yes, it’s considered a gold ticket of opportunity.”
She said, “Stress is a big factor in childhood development, especially if you’ve been through a trauma of violence, separation or any number of factors. You can’t learn well or adapt well while living under sustained stress. These are kids whose stress numbers are 7 and 8 on a scale of 10, compared to 1 or 2 for the rest of us.”
Dave Ramish is no slouch himself. “My brother and I are working on an artificial intelligence project that takes the written diagnostic notes of physicians and codes them into a database for more accurate conclusions and treatment.”
The mind boggles at today’s youth.
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