News: Blessing the Fleet: Chaplain conducts maritime tradition for JTF-GTMO new PSU
Story by Sgt. Cassandra Monroe
NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Chaplain conducts maritime blessing tradition for Port Security Unit 301, a unit from Massachusetts Military Reservation, Cape Cod Mass., who are currently deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay.
The sea can be the source of tranquility for the residents of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Depending on the location, the waters can be blue and serene with small waves tumbling ashore or may be violent and greyish with crashing waves. Just like the ocean, the weather is as unpredictable as the water’s current and can change in an instant. When the sudden storms and rushing rainfalls do come, residents can seek cover in their dwellings, away from the treacherous weather.
But for the Coast Guardsmen of Port Security Unit 301, Maritime Security Detachment, there is no seeking cover, there is only continuing their mission, which takes them outside their comfort zones and inside the eye of the storm.
“Every time the boats go out, the people are put in peril,” said Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Karl Brobst, commander of PSU 301 and a West Creek, N.J., native. “The sea is the most unforgiving environment we have.”
For this reason, members of the unit participated in a maritime tradition called the Blessing of the Fleet, Sept. 6.
The tradition spans back the days of the ancient Greeks, who would offer a blessing of the fleet as a form of protection for the vessels preparing for sea. The idea behind the protection was not only against the enemies that the vessels would encounter, but for surviving the sea itself and its unpredictable weather. It wasn’t uncommon for most of the ancient fleets to be lost due to storms instead of enemy combatants.
“At sea, humans were totally defenseless and that’s the one area they feared the most,” said Navy Cmdr. Terry Eddinger, chaplain for Joint Task Force Guantanamo and a Winston-Salem, N.C., native. “It’s the one place they can’t control. Part of the blessing was for asking for God, who they thought could control the sea, to do something, since they could not.”
With hurricane season approaching and rainfall becoming more frequent, both Eddinger and Lt. Baron Miller, Naval Station Chaplain, offered their prayers to the Coast Guardsmen, blessing those who navigate the boats, the crews and passengers who embark upon the vessels. They also blessed those who patrol during their shifts and wished them safety through their deployment.
Although the weather can prove to be cooperative on most occasions, the members of PSU 301 operate in less than desirable circumstances when dealing with the ocean’s temperament.
This is also the first blessing of the fleet ceremony recently held for a Coast Guard unit stationed here. For Brobst, who feels this is a tradition that all maritime units should experience, the ceremony helped solidify unit bonding despite a variety of faiths.
“The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony crosses all faiths, it doesn’t particularly focus on one faith, it covers all the faiths,” said Brobst “Everyone here has their own beliefs and own faiths, but you can unite them all under one common goal, one common bond.”
This work, Blessing the Fleet: Chaplain conducts maritime tradition for JTF-GTMO new PSU, by SGT Cassandra Monroe, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.