I keep talking about these elevators, and if you’ve not seen a carrier up close let me explain…..they raise and lower aircraft between the flight deck and the hanger bay….you can fit two fighters on one, can lift more than 300,000 pounds and make the vertical journey in about eight seconds…..not exactly like getting on the Otis at your office building. For those that had never seen a carrier up close they were the first introduction to the massive size of everything on the ship. You walk across the elevator and you note some things…..pad-eyes are embedded into the deck surface. These serve as tie-downs for aircraft and equipment. Also you get to first experience of non-skid. All horizontal surfaces where wheeled equipment or aircraft transit is covered in a metal non-skid surface to provide traction and grip. Keep in mind the surfaces may be wet with water, hydraulic oil, or fuel spills and having a slippery surface would be bad form. The non-skid also wears out boot soles pretty darn fast and would not at all be fun to fall on….so everyone watches foot placement pretty carefully.
Eric had warned me to be aware of pad-eyes and tie-downs to aircraft….the planes are chained to the pad-eyes and the chains are a wonderful way to reacquaint you with the effects of inertia and gravity if you trip over one. Lucky for me that I am used to walking around the plant at the mine and am always on the lookout for hoses and other trip hazards in walkways.
As you enter the hanger bay off the elevator you are struck by the shear size of the hanger deck. There are three main hanger bays, each perhaps 70 yards long, 40-50 yards wide. There are moveable blast doors that separate the bays from one another that are usually open position forming a large open area to store aircraft and perform maintenance. In case of an emergency though, the doors close very quickly isolating the area from the rest of the ship. You soon realize that damage control and being able to isolate various areas on the ship is one of the most import aspects of survivability on a carrier and that carries over to the walkways and passages…..there are a million hatches everywhere and you learn very quickly that if you come to a hatch that is dogged, you carefully un-dog the hatch, CAREFULLY open the hatch, pass through and then re-dog the hatch… This assures that you maintain compartment/passageway integrity in case of flooding or fire. There are also many hatches that serve as barriers between air-conditioned areas and those that are not air-conditioned. Keeping those hatches secure maintains climate control.
Tom is having some issue posting about his cruise...that was a portion of my blog series from '09 as a test....if you're interested you can read the series starting at http://www.navydads.com/profiles/blogs/quick-tiger-blog