US Navy Embark

US Navy Embark
Posted on 01/24/2020
Burgess on DeckBy: Ms. Megan Burgess

Imagine this! You are sitting still on a runway when all of a sudden you are launched from 0 mph to 150 mph in a mere three seconds! The lead-up is intense.

You anxiously sit, goggles tight, and harnesses taut. “Green shirts” are below, rapidly connecting a release bar to the jet in a complicated system of steam-pressurized pistons. Suddenly, you are given the nonverbal signal that the launch will commence in under 15 seconds.

Burgess inside planeYou breathe in deeply in an effort to calm your nerves. This is not your average domestic flight! The engines roar to a fever pitch, and in the blink of an eye you feel immense pressure followed by a brief moment of total weightlessness.

It is both terrifying and adrenaline-inducing as you are slingshot off of a tiny runway over the Pacific Ocean, and into the clouds. You have just experienced what the US Navy calls a catapult launch (or a “cat shot”), a special operation designed by engineers in the 1940s in order to allow heavy-payload jets to take off from short runways in the middle of an ocean.

My short stint on the USS Theodore Roosevelt will stay with me for a lifetime. This incredible opportunity was made possible by the US Navy League. The league’s primary purpose is to educate the public – and possible recruits – about the Navy. Its mission is to provide civilians a rare glimpse into the immense inner workings of the US Navy, most specifically the operations on an aircraft carrier, with the understanding that we share our experiences returning home.

As educators, our primary role is to teach, and the US Navy League provides an all-expense paid trip for chosen educators to learn most intimately what life is like as a midshipman, and to share those experiences with our students, and community.

In under 48 hours, my group and I experienced an arrested landing, witnessed day and night flight-deck operations, toured everything from the mess halls to the nuclear engineering areas, to the anchor room, to the Captain’s deck, and experienced a catapult launch.

Beyond the generalized heroics that occur on a daily basis, I was most mesmerized by the camaraderie felt amongst all 6,000 men and women aboard the ship. Whether we were having a meal with high-rank officers or the enlisted, the message was consistent: We know our job is vital to the success of this ship.

BurgessSeveral times a day, the hands-on-deck “FOD” call-to-action was echoed throughout the ship. This seemingly small task of scrutinizing the flight deck for foreign-object debris (FOD) – debris that can rip through engines and compromise their integrity and safety – demonstrated the necessity of teamwork in such an acute manner. Soldiers stand, arm-to-arm, walking the course of the flight deck picking up miniscule particles to ensure the success of the mission; the success of the US Navy, and ultimately our country.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is one of eleven aircraft carriers actively deployed across the globe. She is the fourth nuclear-powered aircraft carrier built for the US Navy. She made her maiden voyage in 1986 and has been serving our great country ever since. The USS Theodore Roosevelt is heralded as “Big Stick” in honor of Roosevelt’s international diplomacy policy, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

According to the US Navy, an aircraft carrier has a three-fold mission:

1. To provide a credible, sustainable, independent forward presence and conventional deterrence in peacetime.
2. To operate as the cornerstone of joint/allied maritime expeditionary forces in times of crisis.
3. To operate and support aircraft attacks on enemies, protect friendly forces and engage in sustained independent operations in war.

For more information CLICK HERE.

I am extremely grateful to the Navy League for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you are interested in a similar experience, please contact Stephen Kelly of the Navy League – Rocky Mountain Region.