Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Life on the Carrier: Big and Small

Vinson Embark, Day 2 Pics (18)We heard on more than one occasion that the USS Carl Vinson represents “4.5 acres of sovereign US” that can go pretty much anywhere in the world.

I think I heard someone also say that it’s “4.5 acres of ‘second thought,’” meaning if there’s a US carrier in the neighborhood, a foreign government or non-state actor will think twice before doing something.

The ship is immense, holding 5,000 people (or more) when the Air Wing is aboard and hundreds of aircraft.

From the outside, you see just how large it is, the flight deck being the obvious reason.Vinson Embark Shots (19)

And, when you are on the inside, you spend a huge amount of time doing two things. Walking…and climbing. There are combination stairs/ladders (just steep) and I have no idea how many decks (but a lot of them). You are moving in and out of the sections, lifting your legs over the so-called “knee knockers” which I believe are there for watertight/security reasons.

I didn’t work out on the ship, but frankly, I didn’t have to. We just spend so much time walking around, it was a workout in and of itself. Though, if I had, I would have gone to the best workout room I’ve ever seen…the one that was open air wall in front and looking out over the ocean.

It’s Also Really Small

At the same time, though, it is really small. Imagine being in one of these things with 5,000 other people for 6 months. Every day, you are eating in a large mess hall (unless you’re an officer-and yes, there are privileges). It’s not glamorous.

Vinson Photos (2)

Add to that, the berths for the enlisted men/women are 3 beds high and anywhere from 20 to 150 people in the same area.

And it’s not like you have a ton of space for your stuff. You get a locker and then your bed lifts up to reveal a few compartments where you keep all of your worldly possessions on the ship.

Vinson Embark Shots (20)

These guys do not have it easy.

Throw in one other angle…you’re put into a true melting pot (possibly literally if you are stationed in the Persian Gulf) of people from all walks of life and culture.

Things are bound to get heated. They do, of course, but the Navy has a way of dealing with it and, we’re told, most of the time, they get resolved.

Still, it gives you pause.

Not only are these sailors doing their jobs for 12-14-16 hours a day, but it’s not like they have that much space to call their own. Yet, they do it.

That’s the kind of thing that makes you really appreciate the idea of “doing your duty.”

To get a sense of what it’s like walking through the carrier, here’s one video for you.

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