Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Aircraft Carrier

Atlantic Ocean (June 20, 2004) – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits along the East Coast while participating in Summer Pulse 2004. Truman is one of seven aircraft carriers involved in Summer Pulse 2004. Summer Pulse 2004 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy’s first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Ryan O'Connor (RELEASED)
I have been to sea on an aircraft carrier twice. Each time for just a day. Once on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower with The Nuke (I also had Christmas dinner on the Ike one year) and once on the USS Ronald Reagan with The WSO. My buddy Glenn (aka ORPO1) was along for that ride as well.

Rode USS Dwight D. Eisenhower out of Norfolk, rode USS Ronald Reagan out of Sandy Eggo. As The Nuke was part of ship's company on the Ike I got to see that side of things, as The WSO was in USS Ronald Reagan's air wing, I saw that side as well. Well, a brief glimpse, nothing more. Try doing their jobs for six to eight months at sea. Whole different thing. (I should note that Glenn was an airedale when he was in the Navy, so I got a unique take on the enlisted side of things in the air wing from him.)

So I have a thing for carriers and the men and women who crew them and fly off the flight deck to go in harm's way. While I'm still under the weather (aka "feel like crap") and while I do love cats, no funny kitten videos today (though I did like your suggestion Tuna), no sir, no ma'am. I give you another documentary, this one on the aircraft carrier. Good stuff.

A wee bit long but interesting and educational.

And I'm all about interesting and educational.

No, really.






22 comments:

  1. You really can't get any more interesting and educational. Hope you feel better soon. To that end I won't tell you about the time we were in heavy seas and this green-faced sailor...

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  2. Film of the Forrestal and film of a B-36, that is a good documentary.
    I spent two years on Forrestal as a pit snipe, three more years on Forrestal as a civilian when she was in the Philly Shipyard and a couple of years each on Indy, Sara, Connie, and Kennedy as a Philly civilian yardbird.
    Someone asked recently what cruises I had been on, I told them I started my cruising by spending two years on a cruise ship with five thousand close friends, and the cruise ship had airplanes landing and taking off on the roof, quite to my surprise the person smiled and asked what carrier I served on.
    Thanks for the post!


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    1. Thanks John, I like the documentaries from that site.

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  3. Aircraft Carriers have Cats (catapults) so close enough! I love these boats too, but I'm all for the big white ones these days (the next 7 to be specific). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2ugQ190hkc

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    1. Hahaha, yes Cats. Waist Cats, bow Cats, so it was a cat video!

      And really Tuna, the long version?

      ;)

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    2. Ha! I didn't even watch it, just snagged the link!

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  4. I've been on aircraft carriers, but only when they were docked, not at sea. Would love to have that experience.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. The best part is watching flight ops while on the flight deck.

      As a spectator, not sure I'd want to work on "the roof."

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  5. Only carrier I ever set foot on was the USS Hornet, berthed in Oakland. Like a time machine, the look back at the level of technology on the bridge and in sick bay, gives one a new sense of appreciation for the men who sailed her.
    It made me smile when I saw the "Body by Fisher" nameplates riveted to the AA gun platforms. Detroit steel!

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    1. Cool! (Another museum ship to add to the list as well.)

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    2. I haven't gone back in a while. If you're ever out this way, give me a shout and I'll meet you there!

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  6. Good movie, thanks.

    Paul

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  7. Carriers- spend some time viewing the PS series "Carrier" or the BBC "Sailor" series. Great insights into the ships and men (and women) who make them work.

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    1. I met the Air Boss in the PBS series, he was my daughter's commander in NFO school.

      I've got to make time to watch that BBC series.

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  8. I'm going to voice what may be an unpopular opinion: I think building supercarriers is not the way to go. Compared to land bases they're obscenely inefficient, extremely vulnerable, and "too many eggs in the basket" both financially and in terms of morale.

    Land bases are a much cheaper way to base aircraft than any carrier battle group ($4.5B to $13B for the carrier alone, depending on how you price it out, plus at least as much--maybe double--for the escorts). Land bases can be hardened so that you will only take out one plane or key building with a bomb (Tab-Vees, hardened maintenance facilities). You can't sink a land base: you can hole the taxiways and runways, but that's a relatively quick fix compared to months in dry dock for a damaged carrier--assuming the carrier makes it back to a friendly port. Land bases are also much more flexible in terms of the aircraft they can deploy: you can always use land bases for carrier aircraft. Using land-based planes on a carrier is much more problematic, the Doolittle Raid to the contrary.

    Aside from the enormous financial cost, there's also the cost to morale if a carrier is lost. The Japanese were able to hide the loss of four carriers at Midway due to their total control of the press, but if we lost one or two supercarriers that's also a loss of 5000 sailors apiece: 100 per U.S. state. We could never hide that from the public. Can you imagine what a blow that would be?

    I suggest it would be better to build smaller carriers with about 1/3 the displacement (50% heavier than the first Yorktown, 100% heavier than the first Wasp) and crew size of a supercarrier. I'm not a naval designer, so this is a pure guess on my part, but I think such a ship could carry up to 50 modern aircraft and would cost a lot less, maybe under a billion dollars. In terms of "showing the flag," a smaller carrier would be just as effective as what we have now. In terms of combat mission, a 40- or 50-plane air group would be adequate to carry out strikes in the initial stages of most wars. After the first days of the war, more carrier- and land-based aircraft (plus cruise missiles) could beef up the attack.

    The biggest argument for carriers is their mobility, which allows you to apply airpower where you might not be able to. This is true. On the other hand, if we reduced the super-carrier force to five (one Atlantic, two Pacific, one Indian, one in drydock at any one time) and added seven to ten smaller carriers (let's say one North Atlantic, one South Atlantic, one Mediterranean, two Pacific, one Indian, one or two in drydock) we could have at least as much effective airpower around the globe.

    The big-carrier lobby will never go for this, of course, but the battleship admirals would never have gone for a strategy that centered on submarines and aircraft carriers before the Pearl Harbor attack. I think it's something to be considered.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)