Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Flight Deck Ops

(May 19, 2003) -- An EA-6B Prowler assigned to the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Attack Squadron 135 (VAQ-135) prepares to launch from one of four steam powered catapults during flight operations on the flight deck aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Yesenia Rosas.
Cuppla readers pointed out yesterday that flying from the deck of a carrier is just one part of the picture when it comes to naval aviation. They're right, there's a lot more going on than just cat shots and traps.



And what do all those shirt colors mean? Though this video was made for kids, it's very good.



Without the marshallers, maintainers, ordies, shooters, fuelers, and the like, the aircraft never leave the deck.

There's also the men and women who maintain and drive the airfield itself, the aircraft carrier which is the home to all of those aircraft and the folks in the air wing, they're called ship's company. Not to annoy The Nuke or anything, but those folks own "the boat," which is what the air wing calls that big gray beast that displaces 106,300 tons, is 1,092 feet long at the flight deck (1,040 feet at the waterline), and is 252 feet wide at the flight deck (134 feet at the waterline).

Without the ship, the air wing isn't going anywhere...




36 comments:

  1. Mr. Copenhaver, one of my engineering professors was Navy air, circa 1940's. And my first calculus professor at Texas Technical was Navy Air as well. I never found out what they flew. But both passed their carquals. Had the framed certificate in their offices. I have a lot of respect for those that can make that cut.

    And the ones that can dance on a steel deck and not wind up in the compressor blades, or between the wheels, or under the JBD, or...... What amazing ballet.

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    1. Yup, the flight deck of a carrier is one of the most dangerous places on Earth to work.

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  2. The Abraham Lincoln was deployed 290 days in 2002-2003 and again " more than" 290 days in 2019 into 2020, the longest post Cold War deployment with this recent one extended four times. That meant the crew of the Lincoln along with all the other ship's crews and their families ashore went through the wringer, God Bless them all. Good vids Sarge.

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    1. I remember the days when the deployments were six months, give or take. Now they seem to run none months or more, the fewer carriers we have, the longer they're at sea.

      God Bless them all indeed!

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  3. Very, very dangerous work. And I will add to what STxAR said and mention the risk of being blown over the side and falling the 90 feet or so into the water while the ship is moving north of 25 knots.
    They deserve every penny of their flight deck pay.
    I didn't see the COD launch, (my only Cat shot) so I dug up some video to see what it looked like from the passenger's viewpoint.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7oO-MJ9ynE

    The youngster narrating the second video didn't mention that the real reason for the multiple color shirts is to let the ship's company know just why the chow lines are so long.

    The kaleidoscopic ballet of the flight deck couldn't happen if the ship's company failed to do their jobs, and we wouldn't have those jobs without the flight deck.

    Good post and thanks for the hat tip to ship's company.

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    1. Ship's company is important. I know this because The Nuke told me. Seriously though, they work their butts off.

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  4. I was gratified to see a COD featured in one of the videos. Nobody wants to fly the COD. They don't have the glitz of the other aircraft on the flight deck. But as with all elements of an Aircraft Carrier, they are important. I've heard that they are discontinuing production of the CODs, and that mystifies me. I can't recall the source. Possibly it was just chatter from somebody I met. Ok, thus ends the tribute to the lowliest of aircraft on the flight deck.

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    1. The Grumman C-2A Greyhound is a workhorse, from what I understand she's being replaced with an Osprey variant, the CMV-22B.

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    2. Yeah, Ospreys... because “more expensive” and “less capable” seem like good program goals, hey? (As I understand it, the C2s are becoming too old, and don’t have enough operational availability...)

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    3. There was a bid to build fat versions of the Lockheed S3 Viking as next-gen CODs. That would have been cool.

      The Osprey does have the ability to fly off of smaller decks, so it is 'more versatile.' But back in the day, there used to be several aircraft all doing roughly the same thing.

      Now we have 'general purpose' aircraft that have short ranges. Long distance COD service is a real thing, not everywhere is reachable in an Osprey or next gen tilt-a-whirl.

      Dangit. The Fleet Air Arm, heck all of Naval Aviation was nickel and dimed to death over the last 28 years. And it shows.

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    4. a bear - That seems to be the way of things these days...

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    5. Beans - Range of the C-2A is 1,300 nmi with 10,000 pounds of cargo, that of the CMV-22B is 1,150 nmi with 6000 pounds of cargo. So yeah, we lost some range there. And some cargo. I saw this and yes, it pissed me off -

      The Common Support Aircraft was once considered as a replacement for the C-2, but failed to materialize. The USN was exploring a replacement for the C-2 in September 2009. Three options were suggested as replacements for the aging C-2s; a new batch of updated C-2s, a transport version of the Lockheed S-3 Viking, and the tilt-rotor Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

      The C-2 competed with the V-22 Osprey for use as the future carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft. Northrop Grumman proposed modernizing the C-2 by installing the same wings, glass cockpit, and engines as the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. Installing the Rolls Royce T56-427A engines would cut fuel consumption by 13–15 percent with the same 8-bladed propeller, enabling take offs with a 10,000-pound payload in 125 °F degree heat and a range in excess of 1,400 nmi; similar performance by the C-2A requires engine temperatures at 70 °F, trading fuel for payload. Adopting the E-2D's cockpit would deliver a 10 percent savings on lifetime logistical support. One of the Greyhound's most important features is its internal volume of 860 cubic feet of cargo space. Northrop Grumman stated that their approach could cost far less than the V-22 including $120 million from C-2 and E-2D commonality.

      In February 2015, the Navy's FY 2016 budget confirmed the V-22's selection for the COD mission, replacing the C-2A. The Navy is to order 44 of the Osprey, designated CMV-22B, with deliveries to start in 2020. The C-2 was originally planned to be retired in 2027, but this was accelerated to 2024.


      I had to wonder which admiral was looking at a post-Navy career with Bell Boeing?

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    6. as to COD, if something large and heavy needed to get aboard long ways out, there is always the C-130. it can do it. has done it. see no difference trapping a hercules on a deck than an assault landing/takeoff on a tight plateau. actually built for it. finally, if a C-130 can do it, a number of other smaller dedicated cargo assets like a C-160 etc. can too, with probably less risk to the ship due to size/energy.
      as to range, osprey can drop onto almost any capable platform to refuel enroute to the final deck. I may like osprey less than I like the F-35( because of complexity if nothing else) but like LCS, that call has been made. serving as a stepping stone for an osprey to make a longer mission may be a use for the LCS, like one turd buffing a shine on another.

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    7. like one turd buffing a shine on another - I like it, the LCS Mission Statement.

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    8. So, the rumors of navalized, new build, C-5s LAPESing pallets of cargo onto the flight deck are untrue?

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    9. Just think, with arrestor hooks on the LAPES pallets, you could even deliver a replacement Tilley, if you wanted to!

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    10. StB #1: A navalized C-5? Man, you have a WILD imagination.

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    11. StB #2: What could possibly go wrong?

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  5. Once worked with a man who was a deck officer (as he described himself) on the Enterprise (CVN-65). His assignment was on the bridge. He had some interesting observations about the ship and the way the Navy used her.

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  6. All good. I used to tell Nasal Radiators that they were the final delivery device for my cargo when I was XO on an AE. Interesting discussions thereafter. Usually fueled with Beer.

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  7. Carrier ops is hard. And it's not just the colored people on deck. Just under the deck is a whole different ballet of movement and repair. Go one layer deeper and you get the general flow of any warship.

    Merge all three layers? Umpossible. Hard to pick up with no institutional background.

    I wonder if Great Britain still has that past knowledge to use on their new ships?

    Japan, Italy, South Korea, Singapore all seem to be getting along. Red Commie (fink) China is just learning. The Russians of either flavor never really got it.

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    1. Just under the flight deck is the hangar deck, lots of stuff going on there. You need to go above the flight deck and below the hangar deck to see "the rest of the story" where ship's company is concerned. But yeah, it's hard. Hard to pick up and do properly, it ain't just about having the right ships and aircraft as the Chinese, Russians, and Indians will discover if they ever have to do it for real.

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  8. Someone, a Cold War era admiral I think, said something along the lines of: "If we really want to defeat the Russians, we should give them one of our carriers and let them try to operate it." I think I might agree.

    I chose to spend most of my time working catapults up on the flight deck, only spending enough time below decks to get qualified at the next station so I could move up the ladder. I never got to see much of the ship where the non-airdales live and work but I know none of them had it easy either. We all (catapults and arresting gear guys) liked to brag that we had the most dangerous and toughest job on the ship, but without everyone doing their own individual jobs, nothing would get done and the ship would be nothing more than a big target for someone.

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    1. The admiral made a good point.

      There are a lot of hard working folks on the carriers. Thanks for your service CJ, glad to have you here.

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  9. My Disassociated Sea Tour (AKA SWO appreciation tour) onboard Vinson was a real eye opener for me. When I was a first tour JO, when it came to the ship all I thought about was the catapult shot and the food in the dirty shirt. As a senior LT, then an O-4 on board, I saw how vital every member of the team was to help those clueless JO's get off the ship.

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    1. Heh, SWO Appreciation Tour, I like that. Sounds like it worked.

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  10. All you guys up on the roof are welcome to take some steam for the cats, extra knots over the bow, some water for your showers, and power to keep the lights on. But, unless the snipes down in the dirty, dark holes on the non-nuke carriers did their job, you sort of lacked the stuff needed to go flying.
    If you liked flying, thank a snipe.
    Especially if your ship's water tasted like DFM.
    John Blackshoe

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    1. Without the snipes, nothing works on a ship.

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    2. DFM in the water. Lots of good memories feature DFM in the water.

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    3. We're all getting cancer someday from that DFM.

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    4. For the uninitiated, DFM is Diesel Fuel, Marine.

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  11. I was ship's company on CV 67 and airwing on CV 59. I still have several of my green jerseys (I was an AX, a rating which no longer exists); they're good to have on cold days! I also have a couple of red jerseys, from when I went TAD to the JFK's fire department.
    --Tennessee Budd

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    1. Pretty cool. My youngest spent a long weekend aboard JFK when she was in the Med.

      (I still need to get your book back to you Tennessee, I haven't forgotten, just been a lot on my plate...)

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