Birthing Aboard an Aircraft Carrier

Alternate Title: Berthing Aboard an Aircraft Carrier

Relatively speaking, an aircraft carrier is a roomy naval vessel. There are no hot racks (where a bed, a rack, is rotated on shifts, usually found in the submarine community.) And each Sailor gets a certain amount of personal space, depending on rank.

During my recent seagoing jaunt, me and my team first ended up in the Chief’s overflow berthing. We had a retired Master Chief with us and we did not argue with the assignment. It was just us in there, so I did not feel out of place, being an Officer in the Enlisted berthing and all.

Here is a picture of nearly an exact match to our space. These “pirates” look far more jovial than how we appeared. From a community relations event on the old USS Kitty Hawk (affectionately called the Shhhh-itty Hawk):

Students from Ikego Elementary School, Japan, experience first-hand what it is like to live in ship’s berthing during a tour aboard the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

After two weeks, I had the opportunity to switch berthing. I spent all of an hour thinking it over.

I clunked my gear over to Officer Country and my new two-man stateroom. I had a little more space to stretch out and as I packed my clothes in my wall-locker, I wondered when I would meet my roommate. He still did not know he was losing his cozy one-man room. So smart was he, that he did not even put his name on the door.

I returned to the stateroom from working around 2100. I showered and hit the rack, thinking that perhaps the room was unoccupied. After all, there was some shoes and books, but maybe that officer did not make the cruise?

2200 flicked by and the stateroom door opened. I lay still as a mummy. The light glared on. Should I say hi? I had better.

I parted the blue curtain and greeted my new roommate. Howdy!

Aiieeee! he yelled, almost fouling the weather deck.

Sorry, man. Sorry. I did not want to scare you.

We chatted, him more cautious than me. In the old tradition of the Navy, I determined that I was the senior lieutenant, but I graciously allowed him to keep the bottom rack. Not only did I shave a year off his life, but I also pulled rank. Pretty obnoxious, eh?

I had my reasons on wanting to keep the top rack. First and foremost, it was right below the flight deck. And the sensation of having jets launch above your head is initially frightening and then exciting and then just boring. In that order. The whole room shook in a certain sequence, over and over with each launch. I filmed a movie of it, but my cell phone could not handle the loud noise. Go watch this YouTube video of an F-18 catapult. And then imagine lying right underneath it.

Our stateroom had one of four major smells: jet fuel (no surprise), hamburgers (we were near the wardroom), glue (no idea), or air freshener.

Every fifteen minutes, we were spritzed with one of those automatic air sprays. Country meadows, I think, was the flavor. And if I closed my eyes, I could hear the Von Trapps frolicking down a country hillside and chatting in their Germanic lilt. I if I listened really carefully, I could hear Julie Andrews singing. Wait, that was a jet trap and the sound of the number three wire dragging back across the deck after being grabbed by the tailhook. Not Von Trapp. My mistake.

Note: The Shore Patrol, after reading this post, requested that I turn in my man card. Who in their right mind compares a jet trap to a Von Trapp?

USS Denver’s shore patrol of Sailors and Marines, in Acapulco, Mexico, ca 1913.

26 thoughts on “Birthing Aboard an Aircraft Carrier”

  1. Wow…that was quite a video…impressive….how could you stand being right underneath it??k

  2. Lou: It was. I am getting over it. Small price to pay.
    Kris: At first, it was very intense. And then quickly, I forgot about it. Odd, huh?

  3. Are those Kid Squids or Squids’ Kids?

    Never really understood why the #3 wire was optimal. The deck has 4 wires. Why design the things so the next to last is best?

  4. First of all, is the pirate on starboard forward a round-eye? Foreign exchange I guess.

    Secondly, you are an LT…why didn’t you get on the com-line and call the bridge and tell them to cut that shit out ‘cause you are trying to sleep?

    Finally, the SP’s, notice how low their crows are on their sleeves? Boots!

  5. You can actually sleep through that AND the compartment warming up to about 140 degrees when you’re tired enough… :-)

  6. Good story, but one minor comment. “Birthing” is have a baby, “Berthing” is where you sleep on a ship.
    You might have had better berth in Officer’s Country, but I’ll bet my crow the food was better in the Chief’s Mess.
    GMTC (ret)

    1. Uh oh, I wad trying to be funny. You will notice that I wrote “berthing” properly below the actual title. And I will bet you are right about the chow!

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  9. Being a labor nurse, I thought there was going to be an interesting “birth” story – still, the “berth” story was interesting. Not so much though as a screaming woman giving birth in a “berth” just below a flight deck during jet takeoffs……

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