Navy officer in Gulf communicates with family via the Web

BAHRAIN—Advanced information technology not only gives sailors on the USS Belleau Wood a high-tech advantage in one of the world's hot spots, it also offers a low-cost medium to keep in touch with family in the United States.

Chief Petty Officer David Cather, the Belleau Wood's weapons systems group supervisor, uses satellite terminals on the ship—a Navy amphibious ship docked here this week during its four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf—to maintain a personal World Wide Web page on GeoCities.

Cather said he started the Web page when he was first transferred to the Belleau Wood, which calls Sasebo, Japan, its home port, to keep in touch with his parents. The Web site keeps him from making costly long-distance phone calls, he said.

Now, far from a phone booth during this extended deployment in the Gulf, Cather said he continues to update his Web page, www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/6427, via e-mail so that he can "continue to tell my parents what I'm doing out here.... That's important to Moms and Dads."

Cather said visitors to his Web page will find a lot more than just plain text descriptions of his travel, as he has tapped a variety of Web tools and technologies to beef up that page with music and graphics.

"We are approaching the one-year mark for living in Japan!" Cather has posted on his page. "Things are so different than we first thought! It actually gets like regular boring life here, too! But we bought a satellite and now have access to English stations on TV, including 'Nickelodeon,' which has caused our electric bill to skyrocket! (The kids watch it constantly!)"

Cather said he developed the skills to launch his own Web page by surfing the Internet and taking lessons from what he saw. "I used the browser to learn how other people did it,'' Cather said.

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