Saturday, April 19, 2014

Life on the Ship

It is always sort of a sad time when a ship pulls out and heads to sea. If you are not on the ‘Special Sea and Anchor’ detail or busy working within the ships hull, many sailors find a spot to wave goodbye to a wife, kids or girl friend.  During my time shipboard, ships underway did not have females aboard, so there were no gals waving by to her guy.

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“From the flight deck as we anchored in Malta”

Sherry and I would follow each other with our eyes as long as possible, then she would return to life ashore being the mother (and father) to our two boys. She handled the many little and big problems that arose around the home just like anyone else. And I would ‘turn to’, manning my station and doing daily chores.

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(A relaxed Sunday at sea, trying to get some sun when there were no flight operations, yeah I’m purty and got hair)

At sea on an Aircraft carrier there are two mess decks for enlisted personnel. During regular chow hours both mess decks are open. the rest of the time one chow line remains open 24 hours a day because the work goes on around the clock.

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(Athens Greece, taken from the Parthenon)

The aircraft carrier is truly a floating city. A ship’s store for normal every day needs i.e. stationary, cigarettes, candy, gum, souvenirs, shaving gear etc. There are even some machines for chips, crackers and sodas. Two barber shops, sick bay (hospital), TV station, Radio station, Gym, brig (jail), police force, fire fighters and much more. 

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(In every port the chaplain would arrange to have some voluntary work done for the local churches, hospitals and orphanages. This is a working party for an orphanage in Athens.)

USS INdependence CVA 62

About 1100 ft. long

Carried 70-90 aircraft

Carried about 5500 souls aboard

She could travel 8000 miles at 20 knots.

I was on that ship 2 years and on my last watch I found areas I had never seen before.


I made a 3 months North Atlantic cruise, part of a 9 month Med cruise, a 6 week cruise NATO Atlantic. Many 1-4 week cruises for what is called ‘Carrier-Quals’. We would go out so pilots could learn to  land and take off from the carrier deck, not a simple trick.


(Just after leaving Istanbul Turkey with my Ataturk Meerschaum pipe.)

My enlistment was nearing an end and we made a 6 week GITMO cruise. (THE FAMOUS PRISON IS A VERY SMALL PART OF GITMO) GITMO is the USN’s training station. Every ship goes to GITMO for training. The weather is perfect and all drills can be held and evaluated. In other words, it is a final test after major work has been done on the ship to prove she is battle and sea worthy.


(My berthing compartment was just under that angle deck.)

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(Here I am below in that compartment Bunks were only 3 high. I was middle rack. Notice the racks are about 6” thick, the top raises and all your gear, clothes & personal stuff is stored there)

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Second time at Athens this is also on the Acropolis.

It is a tough time for a crew. Drills are called by the Gitmo inspectors at all hours of the day and night. A fire drill at 2am, simulated plane crash during lunch. ‘Broken Arrow’ nuclear bomb accident, radiation leaking around midnight and so on. It is a solid 4 week test.

I learned something in GITMO; Duty at GITMO is considered sea duty. BUT you could bring your family down. The times I went ashore in GITMO, I saw happy families. Kids riding bicycles, husbands and wives shopping together, AND AN IDEA WAS BORN!


(This was in my working area. I had the duty so I could not go home that night after we arrived in port, so Sherry and the boys came aboard, I brought the boys the bongo’s you see there, Jack is taking the picture, that is Mark, growing, and especially MY GIRL)


Nite Shipslog


Sometimes one idea can make you smart, or at least appear so. I wrote Sherry and sent pictures of GITMO and told her my idea, I knew she would love it.  A tour in Cuba might mean I would never be aboard ship again, never look down from the deck of a ship and wave bye to her on the pier.




The Goat, 1969  Pontiac GTO


Mevely317 said...

WOW ... the enormity of that carrier is difficult to fathom. Of course, those Segway people-mover things hadn't been invited yet - little wonder sailors kept in shape!

I've no details - or, most likely wasn't paying attention (regret)...but my mother always smiled so big when there came mention of time she spent in Cuba while Daddy was stationed there.

That last, candid image Jackie took of the 3 of you is GREAT. I mean, who can look at that and not smile?

Rose said...

I love all your stories. You certainly have seen the "world".

What's that saying "Join the Navy and see the world".

You always amaze me.

Hugs to my favorite couple!


Life at sea is hard on the family, wife , children and spouse. Don't know how you did it.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I can tell you loved being a sailor. You also love your family and having your sea days turn into a duty station you could bring your family to was a great idea!

shirl72 said...

Interesting read you have had a
versatile life and excelled at all
of them. You look like a movie
star in the picture with your pipe in hand..looks like you are ready
for Hollywood.

betty said...

Never saw that picture with the mustache, Jack! Makes you look distinguished with the pipe too! I bet the saddest sight is watching the ship leave; conversely the happiest sight is watching the ship come back to port! I always cry when they feature home comings on the news and I'm glad they feature each and every one that comes home here on our local news.

So that's how you guys ended up in Gitmo; I was wondering about how that came to be!

Happy Easter Jack and Sherry!


Jackie said...

I am so thankful for your service.
Words can't express my gratitude.....

Paula said...

I'm with Shirl, very nice picture with the pipe. Those beds don't look too comfortable but I guess if you're tired enough they would do, huh?

Louis la Vache said...

That was one luxurious sleeping quarters you had on the "Indy", Jack!

Speaking of "Goats", «Louis» saw a perfectly-restored '66 Goat today. Sweet!