A Fishing Trip, A Battleship and Cybersecurity


I grew up in a very small landlocked town in North Central Oregon.  My father was someone who never missed the opportunity to share a life lesson with his children. These lessons often took place around the campfire of our deer hunting camp, in the family garden or on the banks of one of the many rivers that he loved to fish.

I used the term “landlocked” to describe where I grew up because Hood River, Oregon does not bring to mind visions of large ships docked at the tiny marina. However, in 1962, Hood River became the temporary home of the USS Banning, a naval escort vessel.  The USS Banning was unlike anything that this 7- year-old had ever seen in his entire life. A massive 184’ long freighter weighing 138 tons.

I remember that on a warm August evening in 1963 I found myself alongside of my dad standing on the dock next to this monstrous vessel. Apparently, this is the spot where he wanted to fish for perch and bluegill.   It seemed odd to me that my dad was standing on the dock, arms extended, silently pushing on the hull of the USS Banning as if he was trying to push it out of the way.

After what seemed like an eternity (most likely only 5 or 10 minutes), I noticed that the massive 138-ton ship was beginning to move. Soon, it had moved enough for us to slip our fishing lines between the ship and the dock so that we were able to fish.

I asked my father why we just did not find another place to fish. What he told me has stuck with me to this day.  He said, “Son I have two things to tell you.  Sometimes there are huge things in our way that keep us from doing the things that we want to do.  If we stay steady and keep pushing we get momentum and these big things start to move.”  Then he said, “you know that if you would have helped me push we could have started fishing sooner.”

This reminds me of a motto that states, “cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.”

Cybersecurity is big and it is heavy. At times, it almost seems insurmountable and impossible to keep up with the bad actors.

We can watch as others do the heavy lifting, leaving it to the IT professionals to secure our data, or we can be mindful participants in the process and do the little things that we are aware of to help improve our overall cybersecurity posture.

Will you help us push forward?

Epilogue –

The USS Banning returned to Navy custody in 1969.

It was acquired in 1972 by Growler, Inc. of Juneau, Alaska and renamed “Growler.”

On October 1, 1973, the 184-foot freighter “Growler” capsized in rough seas during a savage winter storm in the Bering Strait 11 miles north of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.  The converted Navy patrol vessel and landing craft was hauling construction equipment between Nome, Kotzebue and Bethel.

All three crewmembers were lost including Captain James Halliger of Seward, Alaska; Engineer Harry Germeau of Port Townsend, Washington; and Ralph Geiger of Sequim, Washington. An empty life raft washed ashore at Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Dennis Tomlin

Author: Dennis Tomlin, Multnomah County

Dennis Tomlin is the information security officer for Multnomah County, where he is responsible for leading the county’s cybersecurity efforts.