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.
“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.
(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.
(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.
(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.)
(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)
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)
If I stay in the Navy, THIS IS WHERE I WANT TO BE STATIONED!
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.
WHAT COULD BE BAD ABOUT THAT, NOTHING!
The Goat, 1969 Pontiac GTO