One of the wonderful things about an embark is that the Navy lets their visitors see everything (well, almost everything–no blogger has breached the Navy’s nuclear propulsion spaces…yet). The other week, aboard the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68), this blogger–along with at great bunch from a NATO country interested in carrier operations–got a first-hand glimpse at what a carrier does to get ready for a deployment.
In this case, we were aboard for a “scripted” exercise portion of the pre-deployment workup….and, rather than just get the usual “VIP” show, watching the carrier spend time engaging in air operations, we saw the Nimitz practice littoral operations–something Carrier aficionados don’t usually discuss much. Nimitz, along with the rest of the Nimitz Strike Group, battened down the hatches, entered a simulated maritime choke-point, and transformed themselves into enormous Littoral Combat Ships.
The passage started early, so while water-tight integrity was set throughout the Nimitz, the fleet lined up, ready for the dash. Everything was going fine…
Until, of course, the local “Red Team” showed up to “escort” the carrier…and that went well too, right up to the point some impatient, poorly-trained “irregular” decided to charge the Nimitz:
Melee ensued! Helicopters and other groovy crew-served implements went into action to fend off the Red swarm (my sincere apologies to one crew-member manning a [really neat anti-small ship device] who found me below-decks later, saying, “if you’d stuck around, you’d have gotten to see me fight ‘em off.” Again, sorry, I got too interested on the goings-on to Port..):
But the issue, of course, was never in doubt. Eventually, Team Red, chastened and (we suspect) missing several of their number, left the field….as fast as their little red boats could carry them:
But then again, the good guys always win the pre-scripted exercises…And, strangely enough, the drills always seem to come to a happy conclusion just in time for lunch, too!
Seriously though, all artificiality aside, these blogger embarks are a great way for the Navy to engage in creative outreach. And the Nimitz? It’s simply living up to it’s “First-In-Class” reputation. But more on that later….
(UPDATE: No blogger except THIS GUY has ever gotten into a Navy reactor space and lived to blog about it (and post pictures!!!). An amazing embark aboard the USS Toledo (SSN-769). Go see)