Surviving The Flight Deck Of A Carrier Part 2
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First Day, First Year On Board
As my true-to-life story unfolds you’ll know exactly what I mean, Living on an Island, I had received orders to the USS America her Hull number CV 66, Man is she Big hears just a bit of perspective, for the mind’s eye there are only 2 items to show if you would like to purchase one is a boatsman knife with a marlinspike if you like to work with rope this would be the tool. you can also like the media the other handy tool is good if you’re not really a boatsman mate my favorite the Buck 110 once again you can hover over each media and get the link
It took me all of about 3 or 4 minutes just to make it to the first elevator where the gangplank that you went up to report on board and it went from the pier to the elevator edge which was about 2 stories tall. the boat was in the yards for a major workup, in the hanger deck there were 2 snack areas with 10 or 12 different vending machines, which I felt in my heart would probably disappear once we were ready to leave the yards.
==>Check It Out My Faverit<==
The petty officer if the day got me an escort to personnel man it took a bit just to get there after I had checked in they gave me directions to the transit area till I got orders to my duty section onboard which after being lost for 3 days I was glad that My work station was on top and it was easy to find just keep going up till you run out of stairs and you’ll walk out on the Flight Deck right now you can check it out you might need some of these.
This is where my work area is 3 football fields long and 1 1/2 football field’s wide now this is some area to have to work on, but alas lost for three days the only places I could find was the gally, transit birth which if you’re going to get ripped off it will be there because it’s one great big open area with about 300 bunks It was in the deck department’s birthing area, altho it wasn’t that bad I met a friend there, Rick Watrobski you got it SKI is what we called him, he was a boatsman mate he took care of the ship, drove the liberty launches to get us all to shore when we visited foreign country’s. My rate was ABH Aviation Boatsman mate Handler which means hears part of our need some eye protection
I Take Care Of The Handling Of Aircraft On My Island;
That’s right I said take care of aircraft on my boat, it’s said that my “Rate” JOB we put control into kayos, you see when the ship is out and has its full complement of crew and aircraft it gets just a bit chaotic 90 Aircraft and 5000 personnel, makes this boat a floating island with the population of 5,000, 4 restaurants, a tobacco store, a convenience store, a high rise structure, and an airport as busy as DFW on a busy day with only one runway that can still launch more aircraft 3 times faster than DFW and where they don’t turn the aircraft off to fuel and liquid oxygen is right out where all the jet engines are turning, it travels from one country to another, now this is the Island I’m talking about.
==>A Must See Check It Out<==
It’s just a bit early for this just wanted to give you some perspective on my Job on my Island getaway, on the flight deck all the inhabitants are called skittles we all wore our own collars my main color for my rate was a yellow shirt in which you had to graduate to or earn you start with a blue shirt, on this day I found out where I work.
My New Birth, and work center;
It’s on the bow. right in between cat #1 and Cat #2, my flight PO was First-class petty officer AJ this is what I knew him by when I met the flight deck PO he assigned me my sleeping quarters, Aft 03 level sorry don’t remember the section number you see on a navy ship the compartments are sectioned off like, the 03 levels, section 127 it looks like this 03-127.
So I went down and told Skie Where my birth was and he should come up and see me little did I know it wasn’t going to be that way at all you’ll see, as my article takes you to the fun of my job until then my job was cleaning the flight deck chipping nonskid off and repk]laceing it with new, all of this went on for about 3 months, we were in the yards.
Then I Started Taking Note;
They were removing all the hoses, you had to duck through the hatches because of the airlines, electrical lines, and a multitude of other things strung through the top of the hatches for working on the ship. you actually had to duck to get through the hatches. but after about 2 or 3 days all the hatches were clear, the vending machine in the hanger deck was being taken out, SHIP’S duties a going on upstairs we were doing our last minute close clean up before we started receiving the ship complement of aircraft.
Then the day comes along you take a small break and walk over to the pier side which was the starboard side now let me explain While Looking forward on the ship the starboard side is the right side and the port side is the left-hand side, I watched them take the gangplank down. the mooring lines drop they are a steel cable inserted into a rope that’s about 3″ in diameter.
==>Another Handy Tool<==
The Tugboats tie on and start breaking the lose from the pier, the tugs turn the shi[p around where it’s heading out away from the pier, she lets loose with her ships whistle a great big deep growl borghghghgh it says then the ships props take over and, you can actually feel you’re self-moving on this 84,914 tons of attack and kill Machin, WOW all you’re doughts of this massive hunk of steel was even going to move at all well let me tell you about this about that.
The Next 6 Months;
Now we weren’t where we parked all the time we were in the yards we usually parked at 12 Norfolk Virginia, but I wasn’t going to get to see to right away not for 2 weeks we were out playing we were empty of aircraft but our ships personnel complement had grown exponentially, from about 2,000 to everyone except piolets and we all know when we’ll get the guys the piolets, well sadly not for a day or 2 but we did have a few of our squadrons, start flying in just a couple at a time but they wouldn’t even land all touch and goes for the next couple days.
For the next few months, we’ll be going out on these 2 and 3 week hops it sea trials every navy ship goes through them after their yard visits, to test the performances of what the yards did, during this time the ship will be taken through its limits, high speed runs and high speed turns, oh man have you ever been on 84,914 tons going 35 knots and making a hard turn to the port, you feel like you’re going to fall off, I found out at night at bedtime or lights out and they are kicking it the ship will shake you to sleep, and you sleep well.
Then then the fun starts;
After 3 or 4 days the fun starts, everyone is out doing ship’s duty, all the older shipmates have been explaining to all us newbies how dangerous this flight deck is, how you should watch the most dangerous thing like prop wash, jet intakes, jet exhaust, then the 1MC the flight deck intercom sounds off, like all the other day’s, ALL FLIGHT DECK HANDS PUT ON YOU”RE FLIGHTDECK GEAR AND AND PREPARE FOR THE RECOVERY OF AIRCRAFT, AND THE BEGINING OF FLIGHT OPS, the last part was different “and the beginning of flight ops.”
Because the aircraft started taking the cable and we actually had to start doing our trained for jobs, which mine was at first blue shirt take care of the parking and movement of aircraft on the flight deck chalking and un-chalking, tieing down with chains and un-tying them for movement again, and that went on for like 14 hours plains would come some of them went down to the hanger deck but most of the 90 aircraft ether parked or got launched off it was running about every 1 1/2 hours we would
chang with the other crew, yes we worked in 1 1/2 hour intervals that’s the length of time it took us to launch 10 aircraft, the first run we launched the 10 then in about an hour after all the respotting of aircraft.
The Way The Things Run;
As the days, weeks, and months go by You kind of notice the way it works, In the morning you go down to chow damn long lines, after all, they have 5,000 personnel to get fed in just 2 or 3 hours, and believe me these guys know how to make an omelet, The food onboard a Navy ship is much better than the base and smaller the ship the better the grub, after all, where can a cook run lol but we had to run just about we had to, the chow hall’s that’s right we had 4 of them or chow lines I should say was 3 levels below the hanger deck so you have a bit of a journey betweenthe mess decks is what we called the chow hall, let me tell you you can lose weight eating peanut butter and jelly and climbing 10 flights of stairs 3 times a day where you run into that long line I was talking about it ran from the serving line out the hatch up 2 flights of ladders and halfway down the hanger deck which is only about 50 yards shorter than the flight deck.
Anyway, after you eat you find ways for personal activities on the way to the flight deck where you muster at your work station, our work station was the starboard side right at the base of the bow 03 level the passage right under the flight deck, this where the 4 of us Blueshirts mustered and put our flight deck gear on that is an inflatable flotation device in your color Blue with reflective strips, it has a co2 cartridge to inflate just in case you get blown off the ship by the jet blast, remember SURVIVING THE FLIGHT DECK is my post and there are some surviving in the most dangerous chaotic environment on earth.
Launching Of Aircraft;
You and you’re partner go up carrying our headgear you don’t need it until the aircraft start getting started, there is a main respot everything staked on the bow has to be moved to the aft of the flight deck all the catapults have to be clear for launching aircraft with our Steam driven catapults and then the 1MC, ALL FLIGHT DECK HANDS PUT ON YOU”RE FLIGHTDECK GEAR AND PREPARE FOR THE BEGINING OF FLIGHT OPS.
==>A Must See Check It Out<==
Then the first aircraft is directed up to the catapult hooked up the JBD is risen this is a plate that is lifted up to perfect anything behind it because when we would launch aircraft, the piolet throttles up to some time’s to afterburner but at the very least flight RPMs, the aircraft is being held back by this littler steel part that looks like a barbell for lifting weights except in the center it gets very small.
At this time we’re squatted on our knees the last safety personnel runs out and gets down while the shooter signals the piolet when the aircraft is at its launch RPM’s the piolet will salute the shooter officer the shooter will give the sign and the whole aircraft kinda squats a bit then all hell breaks loose they shoot the steam it breaks the little barbell looking hold back and in about 100 yards the aircraft reaches flight speed and there they go right over everyone’s head Damn WOW I love my new job.
The first one of the day always has a double launch so when they start recovery there is the other half for the protection of the ship and any practice or hot runs, while we’re recovering the first aircraft they are parked in the bow, at this time we change teams me and my partner has 1 1/2 hours to screw off literally it’s your time to relax hell go catch a buzz whoops did I say that, well we’re 18 to 21 years old and most of us it’s our first job.
Then all of a sudden we went into 24 flight ops which meant we only had to work 12 hours instead of the 14 hours we’re all used to, I found quickly that being next door to the Arresting gear machine room, our birth wasn’t the luxurious birth at all, because when an aircraft takes the wire it has to stop said aircraft in a smaller area than we launched aircraft and for it to do this hydraulic fluid is forced throw hundreds of tiny holes in which creates one of the loudest shrills you’ll ever want to hear we had to sleep in our flight deck helmets there.
==>A Must See Check It Out<==
And on top at night, you have a whole different atmosphere, the only light’s we use to see is red tactical light’s the only other lights is the landing lights which areas the airports are, YOU CAN’T SEE OR HEAR PROPELLER DRIVEN AIRCRAFT, nighttime flight ops will separate the men from the boys if you live through it the dark wet stinky place isn’t the place to have your head during this because it by either drowning or chopped up by a prop it will get you if you’re not careful ships, aircraft, and the sea has no conscience or feelings you will lose your life and die if you’re not careful.
For the next few months, this is what we did every 2 or 3 weeks out and every 2 or 3 weeks in, like clockwork, then one day we got orders they were kinda special orders Presidential cruise to Rio De Janeiro, WOW every one was ecstatic first stop Jacksonville Florida, for 2 days stocking the food and other things like diesel fuel for the ship, yeah nowadays the carriers are Nuclear, but then, America was a good liberty ship nowadays carriers don’t make port “Nuclear.”
We got underway from Florida shores and headed south after a couple of days the 1MC which by the way is the Airbosses way of group communication to us the flight deck crew, the announcement was quite a surprise.
He said all flight deck members we are recovering all aircraft, they are to be tied down all helicopters to be landed and tied down for preparations of entering the Bermuda triangle and the crossing of the equator, and that’s a no shitter at all for the next 3 days no flight ops which isn’t heard of on a Navy Air Craft Carrier we fly aircraft 14 and 24 hours a day 7 day a week holidays and all.
On the third day, we all mustered on elevator one, in groups we were lifted up to the flight deck in old sloppy clothes and tee-shirt and the initiation was on, you see Navy Tradition when you cross the equator you go from poly-wogs to SHELLBACK’s, with a ship-wide initiation, even the Captin Of the ship had to get initiated, this means 1,000 shellbacks, initiatives 4,000 Poly-wogs all day long and at the end, they hoisted us up in cargo nets and sprayed us off after crawling through all the leftover breakfast from the whole cruise we stunk.
Filed us back on the elevator lowered us down and kind around every other elevator was kind with charcoal grills and very large stakes and the presenting of the certificate.
After the equator crossing;
It wasn’t a surprise, what was next, the Air Boss on the 1-MC all flight deck personnel get suited in the proper flight deck equipment and begin Washing the flight deck with a FOD WALK DOWN to prepare to launch aircraft for first launching the morning well it took the rest of the day to finish due to guys enjoying this steak more than others so we had about half the manpower we usually do.
The next day 0:530 there’s the air boss again and the day begins as normal no more fun on the flight deck unless you’re enjoying the chaotic danger of it all and we all did love our jobs no boredom at all, for the next 3 days, after three days of flight ops and doing circles in the middle of the south seas we landed at our first port a call, San Salvadore where this is always hanbie.
==>Check This Out<==
Where we anchored out in the bay about a mile I know it was a good 20-minute boat ride this pier where we had to climb this ladder all the way up, this looked like a 300-foot cliff with these women throwing firecrackers at us. but the Sailers fun began after we reached the top, don’t mind I said sailers fun this is when the content shouldn’t be seen by the younger readers LOL.
Up to there, the police wore steel pots with submachine guns right along with a lot of its inhabitants, like this dream girl of any prepper, now that’s HOT!!! LOL, we were only in San Salvador for about 36 hours, then we Weighed Anker.
Then came Reo;
I want you to picture something hear Ok? when you launch or recover something like a multiple tun aircraft with shorter than normal wings you have got to launch of off and back onto an AirCraft Carrier you have got to have at least 35-knot winds across the bow, so while a carrier is out it does large circles to accommodate the launch and recovery of Navy aircraft.
after the 2 weeks to get there the very first thing we saw was Shugger loath the statue of Jesus Christ on top of the mountain, and then the same as Sa Salvadore about a mile out we dropped anchor, they asked for volunteers for a special detail, in which I wasn’t chosen for so after we got off the ship, went playing I have never been to a place like Reo where you always need eye protection.
It was rather early when we got to fleet landing we heard the detail was dressing the boat out with Christmas lights and yes I got to spend the Christmas of 1976 in Rio De Janeiro, We got a cab to take us to the bord walk along coca cabana beach were me being a water astrological sign pieces I had to go for a Christmas swim.
Man the waves me being from north-central Texas didn’t see too many large serving waives, so here I go swimming out I turned around and found one went to swimming to catch it and did I It landed me on the beach, head first you see I grabbed the waive to far out on the front of it any way I dug a ditch in Copacabana beach with my chin bending my back backward.
New Laws and customs;
Well I lived but I had a pretty bad gash on my chin in which I carry a moment of Rio On my chin about a 3/4″ scar to show off and brag about, any way the gash was pretty bad so I walked by our neighbors, they seemed concerned but acted completely strange about the gash I didn’t think they could understand I needed a band-aid or some kinda help but they actually shunned us off after they saw the cut.
So we went up to where the hotels were going in and asked them for a band-aid well the fella at the counter told us no one will help me because in Rio if anyone helps you they will liable for me, so in any way it had stopped bleeding, so we went on about our business.
Man the ship Looked cool they had strung lights from the mast out to the bow and back towards the Fantail so the sun was heavy and we did need to go back to the ship but, We were sailers so what do sailors do in port they find an interesting bar, so we did it looked like just another strip club, we went in and ordered a beer.
Were WE Suprised;
In Rio, all the dancers among other things like the ladies of the night may not be what you think all I can say if you go to Rio and meet up with a lady of the night you better check the harder ware I believe transvestites or one of the rises there so we found out and did we run out laughing.
It was already getting late when we went into the so-called bar so we decided to head back to the boat our home our place of safety and comfort of our floating Island, although the next evening we were out and I met this lady of the night Whoops sorry, in Rio this has a whole new meaning the population of Rio I bitterly poor away from the resort beach part just about 6 blocks inland you have POVERTY!!!! you wouldn’t believe it but we were out looking for party materials. you in the cannabis category.
Inhabitants Of Rio;
So went to looking for some smoke remember I was in when it was not that bad, anyway we looked and looked all around the slums of Rio we finally went back to the resort area we were walking along and this kid about 15 17 years old got our attention and said he could hook us up in so many broken words.
So he took off he was gone about 30 minutes he brought the newspaper rolled up like a great big hand-rolled cigarette, he charged us $10.00 dollars, there were about 2 ounces there, and wow it was so good it wouldn’t even stay lit.
During our stay we found a pervert ship mate no one had much to do with this fella, in fact, we lose him in around 8 or 9 months from that time you’ll see later anyway I called him a pervert because I and my buddy were walking along and we spotted him going into one of those rent by the hour Hotels with a date, she was like sweet looking the only thing was she was about 4′ tall and about 12 or maybe 13 years old and no one would have much to do with him after that.
Time To Leave;
2 Days after Christmas all was back on board ready to go like Ok I’m lying we were back on board though let me say Rio was one hell of a fun place to set anchor, and we were underway on a heading of due north, before you know it we were back in the Northern Hymasfear, doing our usual circular directions, before landing at pier 12 Norfolk Virginia, for 2 luxurious weeks back in the good old USA.
I hope you have enjoyed surviving my first year on the Conventional Air Craft Carrier USS America CVA 66 I wanted to be honest and true to life what it was like checking in living, working, and surviving on an Aircraft Carrier, Surviving the yards surviving the shakedown cruises in and out of port, what it was like in port at Norfolk Virginia, what it was like going through the Bermuda Triangle, Crossing from a Polywog to a Shellback by crossing the equator and the trials and tribulations of being in a foreign country as a United States Navy Sailor, along with what 5,000n men would do to a small country like San Salvador basically surviving my first deployment.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think, don’t miss Surviving my 2nd year on the USS America CVA 66.