I have mentioned here before I was in the USMC, USAF and the USN. (Hey, everyone must be somewhere, right?) The USS Independence was built in 1959. The Big E (USS Enterprise) was built in 1961. It was the longest ship in the world at 1,123’ long. During that time I was serving in the USAF.
(A view of the fantail, the aircraft above circling to land)
(The Big E sails into the sunset, retired after 50+yrs)
I was later to walk the decks of the USS Independence for a couple years. This was a tough ship, it was 1,070 feet long. When we were deployed she housed and fed its giant crew. I never thought of the ships demise, it could live forever.
(I went aboard a 27 year old seaman, left 2nd class Petty Officer, that pipe is meerschaum from Istanbul)
Later, as a chief, I was an inspector flown out to ships from Key West to inspect the Intelligence centers aboard. One of these ships was the Big E. Hey, this dude would float forever, it was nuclear powered. I only spent two weeks aboard her, but there was no doubt, this ship would live forever.
(In the safety net getting some sun at sea on the Indy)
(The picture in the net was taken where the x is. I lived just under the ‘o’, very noisy when a plane was catapulted)
In 1998 they put the Indy in mothballs. Now, after 51 yrs of service the Big E has passed on. She will be mothballed.
I find it earth shaking that a sailor, has outlived ships.
The Aircraft carrier is a floating city. It’s mess decks open 24hrs a day feeding a crew of over 5,000. Up to 70 aircraft were aboard. There are a couple stores aboard as well as a couple barber shops where the Ships Servceman can cut your hair in three minutes. He is allowed 5 minutes. They are pretty good.
(Pulling into Messina, Sicily on the Indy, good friend Jones, PhotoIntelligence)
There is a hospital, dental offices, chapel, machine shop, desalinization plant, a print shop for the ships newspaper, a library and a gym. And yes there is still a brig. Skippers still sentence sailors to bread and water, just like the days of sails. However he is limited to 3 days. We all laugh at the sentence. On the Indy,the guys got all the fresh baked bread and butter they can eat.
There is a closed circuit TV. A couple channels stay trained on the flight deck. One Camera so you can see the sea ahead and one aft. During flight ops, you can watch the flight deck activity. Another channel for the ships local news, info by the Capt. and a lot of time information about the next port where you will anchor.
Anyway, I thought I would never outlive a ship!
I know we do not have a choice, but which is the most important, quality or length of life?
Remembering home for a couple years
A Ford man’s love!