Ted Cahall on board USS Truman – Part 2

It has taken me a while to get back to my series of three posts regarding my visit to the USS Harry S. Truman in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina.  This is the second post of the series that will cover my activities while on board.  The first post covered my trip down to Norfolk, VA and my arrested landing onto the deck of the aircraft carrier.  I have also added a Webshots album of all the photos that the Navy photographers took of my group of visitors.

We started the day on the USS Truman with the arrested landing and then disembarked from the C-2A.  The photo below is part of an album taken by a Navy photographer as I exited the plane onto the deck of the USS Truman.  Click through to see this photo and others taken by the Navy from this trip.

Ted Cahall exits the C-2A on board USS Truman

Once on board, we went up to the bridge and met Rear Admiral Mark Fox, Captain Joe Clarkson, and a number of other officers as the performed their duties.  The photo below shows Rear Admiral Mark Fox greeting our group of visitors.

Rear Admiral Mark Fox greets the visitors

From there we began our journey of hundreds of ladders.  You cannot live on a aircraft carrier and not be in shape.  The ladders will make it happen.  Plain and simple.  We went and met the Captain of the US Marine wing VMFA-312 on the ship.  There are about 20 Marine Pilots on board and approximately 275 total marine staff.  Unfortunately I did not have a pen and paper, so I do not know the name of the head of the Marines on the USS Truman.  Here is his picture.

The head of the US Marines aboard USS Truman speaks to the guests

After being briefed by the US Marines, we were off to lunch.  We waited in the officer’s mess hall lounge until they were ready.  We ate in a cafeteria style food line.  The food was actually pretty good!  We shared some nice conversation with the staff before returning to our journey through the ship.

We stopped by the room where they maintain the anchor chains.  Each link weighs over 300 lbs.  They clean and paint the links from that room.  We then headed out to the “hangar” below the flight deck.  The hangar has a series of elevators that move planes up and down between it and the deck above.  After looking through the hangar, we went and looked at some of the elevator bays and out towards the ocean.  From there we proceeded to view the fire station and some of the repair labs.  We also viewed the rescue boats they send out in case a person goes overboard.  From there it was onto the Jet engine repair labs.  The photo below is one I took of two technicians working on a GE jet engine.  Click through to see a few more jet engine photos from this album.

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After the jet engine repair, we had the highlight of the entire trip.  We went back to the deck and watched jets take off.  The jets (and some turbo props) take off by being shot off the deck by a catapult.  It is really an amazing thing to see – and I was lucky enough to also be able to photograph it with my own camera.  Below is one of my better shots of a plane just off the end of the carrier beginning flight.  Click through the photo below to see my other photos of planes taking off from that album.

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After watching all of the planes take off, we were then taken to the back of the carrier to watch some of them land.  This part is really amazing.  I got to see what I had experienced earlier that same day as part of an “arrested landing”.  It was incredible.  When the pilot puts the plane down on the ship, he/she actually takes it to “full throttle”.  This is to make sure it has full thrust in case they miss the arrestor cable.  In that case they need to take back off so they can circle around and try to land again.  Once they know they have the cable, they back off the throttle.  We were standing a bit too far forward to get good shots of a plane grabbing the cable with its tailhook.  I do have one blurry one here.  The photo below is a photo I took of one of the planes coming in for landing on the deck.

The AWACS plane coming in for an arrested landing - closer...

Note the arrestor cable in the foreground.  That is the first cable of four such cables.  The pilot is supposed to shoot for the third cable.  This was one of the AWACS planes.  They are arriving at 150 mph and will drop down to 0 mph in a matter of three seconds.  I have an honorary “Truman Tailhooker” certificate signed by Captain Clarkson that states that I have completed an arrested landing and have an “elementary understanding” of the “remarkable challenges and accomplishments of Naval Aviation”.

We then headed off to dinner and had some break time in our rooms.  After dinner we went to the outside deck off of the bridge and smoked cigars.  After that it was lights out as we had all had way too many ladders!

Ted Cahall

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