Sunday, July 7, 2013

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, "My" Carrier

LT Alejandro Hernandez Shooting an F/A-18C Hornet of the Wildcats (VFA-131) Off the Ike
Back when the Nuke was in Ike's Reactor Department, the Missus Herself and I had the distinct pleasure of spending a day onboard Ike for a Friends and Family Day Cruise. Even the thought of having to arise at some beastly hour well before sun-up in order for to present ourselves at the pier did not dampen my enthusiasm.

I can't remember what time we arose to head out to the pier, I'm thinking four-ish or so. At any rate it was pretty early. In fact it was so early that traffic on I-264 to I-64  to I-564 was virtually non-existent. For those of you who have lived and worked in the Norfolk area, you know that's a rare event!

So we arrived at the pier, in the dark but on the up-side there was plenty of parking. (Note that at this point I have to fess up and take the blame for wanting to get up so early, as a matter of fact, we got to the pier about 90 minutes before they were planning on boarding us!)

At the time the Ike was tied up at this pier (the one with the USS George Washington below.) And we were parked just out of the frame over to the left. Finally we met up with the Nuke (who had spent the night onboard) and we made our way onto the ship. Straight to the Nuke's state room. Where I proceeded to turn on the TV and make myself at home.

Eventually (when they removed the brow) we headed up to the hangar deck where most of the festivities would occur. There I found an actual ice coffee dispenser (which I would be hitting throughout the day) and a place to smoke. (For in those days I was a smoker. I am now a former smoker. I won't say non-smoker, Skip would understand.)

Eventually we got underway. I was like a little kid, going from one hangar bay door to another to watch outside. One of the Ike's helos was airborne, keeping an eye on things. There may have been a Coastie or two steaming alongside as well. I don't remember. All I remember is being onboard a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, heading out to sea. Stuff like that really gets me going!

Now those familiar with the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area no doubt know of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. You know, this -

Now I've driven over this a number of times (17 miles long, two underwater tunnels, it's really cool!) I've also seen it from the air a number of times, flying into Norfolk. But this was the first time I would see it from the water. Like this - (again it's the USS George Washington standing in for the Ike)

Once out at sea we got to go up to the flight deck and watch a nice little mini-air show put on by one of the Ike's helos and two of the air wing's fighters: an F/A-18E and a F/A-18F. Both of which did multiple supersonic passes at flight deck level. They were also dropping practice bombs and firing their 20mm cannon at some smoke floats which the helo had put down.

The Missus Herself felt the helo crew was far too slow in doing this. At the time the WSO was dating a helo pilot, named Jonathan. So it was most amusing to hear her muttering (to herself she thought) "Come on  Jonathan, drop the smoke. Drop it! Drop it now. Jeez what's taking so long?"

I really enjoyed the gun runs. Here's an example -

It was a long day but it was an awesome day. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat! It's why I always think of the Ike as "my" carrier. (Don't tell the Nuke, she thinks it's "her" carrier!)

The following video was taken on the Ike while she was deployed to the Middle East in 2o12. One of the coolest parts of the video (IMHO) comes at about 2:06 into the video. You can see the USS 
Hué City (CG-66) come into the picture astern of Ike, her colors flying. An awesome sight!

I'm here to tell you, the crew of the Ike and her embarked air wing have spent a lot of time at sea over the past couple of years. Keep those sailors and Marines in your prayers!


  1. I've been on a carrier exactly one time
    It was in port
    I got lost immediately after leaving the quarterdeck
    I was with a crew member
    He was lost
    I don't care if I ever visit a carrier again
    About the only real attraction was the mess deck was open 24/7

    1. It is amazingly easy to get lost on a carrier. There were a couple of times when, in theory, I knew where I was. But had no idea how to get to where I wanted to go.

      A carrier in port is not that exciting. At sea though is a whole different thing.

  2. Ah... Navy, Navy, Navy. Squid, Squid, Squid. WHEN is this gonna end?

    All kidding aside, you were blessed to spend a day at sea on Ike. SN2 alerted me there was a possibility of a Tiger Cruise when he was comin' home from "over there" a couple o' times but they always got scrubbed, for one reason or another. I'd have gone... in a heartbeat.

    1. I try to give the Air Force and the Navy equal time here. Though the Navy does get a lot of play. Probably because of the recency of those stories and the excitement which is in them.

      My days on the flight line were long ago. And there are no, repeat no exciting computer programming stories. Though there is a tale from Offutt I need to tell some day. Involves an F-111 pulling a U-Turn on a one way bombing route. And almost having a mid-air with the BUFF a couple of miles behind him on the route.

      I almost went on an Enterprise Tiger Cruise when Big Time came back on his penultimate cruise on the Big E. But I deferred. Worked out really well, Big Time's Dad and kid brother went (kid brother in my stead) and they had an awesome time. But there will be more Tiger Cruise's. At least I hope so!

  3. I missed the one "dependents cruise" on my ship because of a two-week stint in Balboa Hospital.
    There were two stories related to me that are not repeatable in family friendly blogs.

    1. Um, yes. We'll leave it at that. I won't press you for details. No need. (Though I shall remain, ever curious!)