I had this unique opportunity yesterday to tour the USS George Bush while in port, prior to continuing with their pre-deployment war games off our coast.
How? Being active in the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce has led me to be on the Beaches Chamber Board of Directors, and this invitation was directed towards the Board - and one I'm glad I did not pass up!
I have never been aboard an aircraft carrier, and they are SO HUGE! Floating cities is a good analogy; this one is probably bigger in terms of population than the small Northern NJ town I grew up in!
The entire experience was awesome, however, the "elevator" experience was probably the most awesome: it's a portion of the flight deck that acts as an open air elevator, capable of carrying 200,000 pounds, and moving with alarming speed (really!). There are four on board, and they can move aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck.
Here are some facts I learned:
- Approximately 6000 people serve on board, almost all of them under the age of 24.
- They can land another plane every 45-60 seconds.
- The tower "stack" was not built on top of the flight deck; it was built in a separate location and then welded to the flight deck.
- Nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall.
You can read more about the ship here on their official website: http://www.public.navy.mil/airfor/cvn77/Pages/USS%20GEORGE%20H.W.%20BUSH%20%28CVN%2077%29.aspx
Great plane shot on the flight deck. You can barely see the War Party on the fuel tank...
Bomb Mouse On Tail - part of the way the individual units are defined.
This is the "show" plane; you can tell because the tail insignia is in full color and not muted.
Repair Mouse - not clarified, just my interpretation.
This is the tower portion, built somewhere else, and then welded to the flight deck. The top row of windows is essentially the air traffic control portion.
The flight deck was impossibly long and I can only imagine what it is like to actually LAND planes on it...especially at night!
That WHOLE section is an elevator, designed to carry aircraft from the hangar level to the flight deck level. Maybe it doesn't move AS fast when it is carrying significant weight, but I can tell you: we civilians were totally surprised when it moved. Both times!