A couple things, the bunk has a 2” mat and is quite comfortable. Sleeping with 30 guys in a small area you get used to snoring and the normal noises. Our division’s sleeping compartment was just below the angle deck, where the planes were catapulted off. During flight ops each launch sounded like a truck driving into a tin building at a hundred MPH. But you can get used to it.
(This is something you might never have seen if you had not stopped here today. These were TOP SECRET photos in the Cold War. That is a Russian ‘BEAR’ (Their biggest bomber at the time) on it’s way to CUBA, That is our Independence F-4 flying beside him to let him know ‘we know’.)
(An even closer shot, I have an even closer shot somewhere, with the Russian Pilot holding a Playboy magazine for the F'-4 Pilot to see.
I was privy to these personal shots BY PILOTS, because the pilots were in our shop before and after every flight. Our shop provided them with the data they needed to find and follow these guys)
All sailors not only have a job to do, but are assigned a ‘watch’ on a regular basis. So every 4th night as a junior person, I was assigned a 4hr watch in my time off. My watch was called “a lower deck patrol”. You wander in an out of working spaces and sleeping compartments searching for the possibility of a fire. THE FEAR of a ship is a disastrous fire. With so much ammunitions and aircraft aboard FIRE WATCH is a MUST. The Ship itself NEVER sleeps.
I encountered one fire while on watch and it was very scary. Fortunately we were in drydock with no munitions nor planes aboard. The smoke was heavy and It took a few minutes to remember my training, ‘CRAWL’ the smoke rises, and it does. The fire teams aboard are very good, and in an hour it was out.
You may not know, but the US Navy understands that it’s very mission is BAD for families. They realize that the separations are the cause for the high divorce rate in the Navy, however due to the nature of the beast it cannot be helped. So they do what they can, one thing they do is arrange a ‘Dependents Day Cruise’. Where a sailor no matter what his rank, can bring family aboard over the age of 16, for a day’s cruise, so the family can see what Hubby or daddy does at sea.
Most people think Sailors live a loose moral life (A girl in every port etc). But as a married sailor I was very surprised at the very few promiscuous married sailors they were. My boss and good friend never left the ship except for Shore Patrol duty. When we returned from one cruise his wife was gone. Someone else was living in what he thought, was his apartment. He was devastated.
So on the dependents cruise my Sherry was aboard. My working area was ‘Sanitized’ (All classified data was locked away for a day). She got to meet the crew. We walked over the ship. My mates who did not have dependents aboard enjoyed meeting and talking with Sherry. On the flight deck Ski and Jones tried to sway, exaggerating the ship’s movements as they visited, trying to suggest she was going to get sea sick on this little ship. She truly enjoyed meeting my shipmates that she did not already know.
She ate with me on the mess decks and wondered why I complained about the food, it was gourmet stuff she said! (I really never complained seriously about the food, we had great chow.)
(I did not learn the A/C designations, but we had these aboard. I believe this is an A-4)
She saw an amazing air show by our flyers, and at the end of the day she was impressed at how easily that big ship moved and worked.
(Sherry got to see the F-4’s refueling in flight.)
Soon, I would be leaving the Independence. I would have to move my family back to Belmont until housing was available in GITMO.
PS: I do love the sea i.e. :The smell of salt air and the hustle and bustle of shipboard life. When I finally did face the Skipper again, I told him I would stay aboard forever, if my wife could be here. He smiled and said, “That will never happen.”
Even wise men can be wrong!