I received an invitation to spend a day on the USS Carl Vinson, CVN 70. What an event, I flew out to the carrier with l5 other people on a C-2 Greyhound. Which is a Carrier On Demand aircraft or a COD. It is a short body plane with twin engines and looks like a hotdog with wings and a tail.
We were “trapped” going aboard the carrier, that is we caught an arresting wire, just like the F-18 fighter aircraft you have seen landing in videos. This is a link, if you want to see what happens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytRPvQtkdxE
Upon arriving we were led to a briefing room and given a brief about our time aboard ship. We were given “cranials” that had ear protection since the flight deck is very noisy. After a lunch at the officer’s mess, we went out on the flight deck to watch operations, that is see F-18s landing. There was an AC landing every 45 seconds. They were about 25 feet from us, we were standing on the “foul line” where it is a safe space and doesn’t interfere with landings.
After watching for a bit we were given a tour of the hanger deck and around the forward part of the island, the tall structure on the starboard, right side of the ship.
Our tour then took us to the bridge to see the captain’s post and where the navigation of the ship takes place. We had a 270-degree view of the ship and operations. All the sailors and officers were very friendly and available for any questions.
Next, we toured the interior of the ship along with the dental area and medical area. We met the Dental Officer whose parents were picked up in the South China Sea as boat people. He was very dedicated to the Navy. His story had some of us teared up.
After dinner, again in the officer’s mess, we went up to “Vultures Row” where we could watch night ops. Night Ops are a bit slower than day ops, in that they cycle every minute, vs 45 seconds. There are sparks on the deck when the arresting hook grabs a wire, or in a miss, sparks go the full length of the angle deck for a bolter, which is when you miss a wire completely.
I opted to go down to the jet engine shop at 1:00 AM to see them test an F-18 engine. The engine costs $1 Million dollars a copy, so they want to keep them in top shape. We watched a platform with an engine as the engine was started, then the power was brought up to the afterburner. Even with hearing protection, you could feel the vibration of the afterburner through your body. Wow what a sensation. The young guys in the shop were very motivated and loved what they did.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the Chiefs mess. The Chiefs are the primary managers in the Navy, and they were very interesting to talk with. We then went up to the Admirals Bridge, yes he has his own bridge, to watch the beginning of operations. The admiral was not aboard, so we had free run of his space.
We then went back to the flight deck, see the picture of me standing with my back to the wind. We watched several catapult shots with F-18s taking off and again landing. This was practice and qualification time so it was a continuous process.
Later the COD arrived with a new group and we were again loaded up and had our own CAT shot off the ship for NAS North Island. What a great time, it really gives one an appreciation for what the Navy does. You can watch operations on this YouTube link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-V0dKwyu6E