Adventures At Sea (Part 7)
December 3, 2013
Continued from November 25, 2013
It didn’t seem like I had been asleep any time when reveille came over the loud speakers at 0600. It wasn’t a trumpet wakeup call; it was a man’s voice saying “Reveille, reveille, reveille. Roll out of your racks and muster.” He said this like three times in a row. I vaguely recall hearing flight ops start about 5:00 a.m., but I went straight back to sleep. How sad is that, or how good depending on how you look at it, that I can sleep through flight operations sleeping one level below the flight deck of an aircraft carrier? My dismount from the top bunk was nowhere near as graceful as I’d climbed up there the night before. I’m thankful that my roommate was already out of her bunk and out of the room when I literally tumbled out of mine. Thankfully though, I didn’t hurt anything, in the room, or on me! That was actually my only “accident” while on this trip! Yes, to those who know me well, I was being very careful! I got ready quickly and got my things together. We were told all we had to do was to pack our bags and leave them in the room and guest services would take care of them for us (they did – we didn’t have to carry a single bag, on or off the ship!). Out in the hallway in DV Row there were many pictures hanging between the rooms of President Bush at different points of his service to the United States. In fact, in places throughout the ship there were numerous pictures of the President and the entire family.
At 6:45 sharp, our escort arrived to lead us to breakfast. We were able to eat breakfast in the Officer’s Mess. I had scrambled eggs, biscuit and gravy, a waffle, and bacon. It was all delicious! Oh, and a large cup of coffee to shake the cobwebs off left over from sleep. We had a chance to really talk to our escorts while we ate. The gentleman was part of the media department and the young lady was the Division Officer (DIVO) of supply. They were superb hosts and individuals! When we left the Mess, we went to Starbucks – yes – they have a Starbucks on board. They have all the drinks but minus the pastries.
After the coffee fix, we went to the ship’s store where we could buy shirts or souvenir mugs. It was like being in your average convenient store. Then we went to talk with the Food Services Officer. He is responsible for feeding all persons on the ship at least three times daily. They serve 18,000 meals daily in all of the different messes. The messes are open from 5-7:30 a.m. for breakfast, 10:30-1:30 for lunch, 3:30-7:30 for supper, and 10-1 a.m. for those working later shifts. There is very little down time for the kitchens. In one of the kitchens that we got to tour, there were these huge pots that could hold 500 servings of something like green beans or macaroni and cheese. He took us through to the bakery where they were making cake and rolls. The dough mixer they were using made dough for 500 rolls at a time. They had some Cowboy Cookies there for us too. We left the bakery and went to one of the storage rooms for all the canned foods and wow – it was like going into a Sam’s Club. I even found cans of the “Creamed Sliced Beef” a.k.a. SOS when we were down there. It was absolutely unbelievable to me that they fixed so many meals a day and that things were so well organized. They know where everything is and exactly how much it’s going to take to fix the next meal. AMAZING! The FSO also told us that they get shipments when they are underway from supply ships that run alongside of them. They use cables to slide pallets of supplies from the supply ship into the carrier and then they move things to the storage rooms.
We left the Kitchen and storage areas and went next to the forecastle (pronounced folksull). This is what I refer to as the Anchor room. Its where the anchors and chains run out of the ship when they need to be lowered. The links are absolutely mammoth! One link weighs more than 400 pounds and the chain pretty much runs all the way down to the bottom deck of the ship. The part of the chain that is visible while we are in there is black. Black is the colored links that hook to the anchor itself. The links change color as they go up. If I remember correctly, the links run in 90 foot sections and each section is a different color. I think it went black, white, yellow, and finally red that indicates the end of the chain. Considering what all this room held, it was very, very clean. It looked like you could eat off of the floor.
Next on the to-do list was to meet with the Maintenance Officer (MO). He let us talk to several of his Division officers about the different jobs that they do. We toured areas in the hangar bay where they did routine maintenance on the tractors and sweepers that they use on the flight deck. They took us through one of the electronics repair shops where they could repair certain electronics for the aircraft. They also took us through the workshop where they can repair the jet engines and test them there on board. I learned that many of the mechanics get their ASE certifications while they are in the Navy, which will help them later on in civilian life. I told them about the students at the Career and Tech Center where I teach that also get some ASE certifications before they graduate high school.
(View from inside the hangar bay)
(View from inside the hangar bay)
We went to lunch next. We went back to the Officer’s Mess again. The MO and our escorts ate with us along with several other ship and airwing personnel that we were privileged to talk to. I was and I remain so impressed by these young folks. We had another good meal! I had salad, baked potato, and baked salmon. All delicious!! I didn’t pig out this time around. I was afraid with the upcoming launch off the carrier that I might accidentally launch my lunch, so I kept it light. By this time it is around noon or just after on Friday. I cannot believe where 24 hours have gone! I have seen so much and learned so much it’s a total sensory overload but still absolutely incredible!
Check back next week for the conclusion to this adventure.