Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Acres of Memories

For the last several days, Joanne Rideout’s Ship Report segments have had to do with “life at sea”. 

The recollections have been very interesting (especially regarding the Marcus G. Langseth being attacked by pirates off Somalia).

They’ve also kicked the anthill that is nostalgia within me.

In the overall scheme of things, my life at sea has been pretty miniscule, an extremely small percentage of my existence.  And yet the memories loom large and far out of proportion to the time allotted to them.

Part of that probably has to do with the time of my life.  I was in my early 20s.  And part probably has to do with the scale of the job (or jobs) at hand.

This wave of nostalgia led me to Google Earth and the image shown here, snagged from an overview of the Bremerton shipyard in Washington’s Puget Sound.


Left to right, as best as I can tell (and counting only the carriers):  CV-62, the USS Independence; CV-63, the USS Kitty Hawk; CV-64, the USS Constellation; and CV-61, The USS Ranger.  (There is no doubt about the Kitty Hawk… her deck number is plainly visible in Google Earth view… the others are at least partially obscured, but I have an eye for these things)

I served aboard both the Kitty Hawk and Ranger, though for a considerably shorter time aboard the latter.  And, for a day or so, the Constellation steamed alongside the ‘Hawk while both ships were on the other end of the world in the Indian Ocean.  Somewhere in my slide archives I have a picture of the Connie in the middle of nowhere.  It was taken from the flight deck of the Kitty Hawk.

So, nostalgia abounds this evening, and even starts a feedback loop as I look more closely at the satellite image.  The two diminutive “boats” lashed between the Connie and Ranger appear to be Oliver Hazard Perry-class fast frigates… the same type of ship that I wrote about a couple of years ago in a different blog

Those aren’t boats… they’re real ships.  But they look so tiny when squeezed between the giant, retired queens that they almost disappear. 

There are four acres of real estate (minimum) atop each of the carriers.  And on the Kitty Hawk in particular, I still feel familiar with every square inch of it, even though I last saluted her standard in 1984. 

On that deck, I was fried, frozen, baked, bruised and battered and came away with a knee injury that haunts me to this day… and yet I still think of it as the most exciting job of my life.

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