During the holidays my oldest son Garrett and his fiancee Rachael came home on leave from the USS George Washington CVN-73 nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Rachael is an electrician's mate for the Navy's nuclear power program and Garrett is a machinist mate for the nuclear power program aboard the same ship.
On the entire ship, there are approximately 500 females compared to 5,000 males. Only 30 females are trained in the nuclear power part of the boat and only 10 in Rachael's job as an electrician's mate. For Garrett there are about 55 machinist mates running the entire ship 24/7.
I was eager to ask them about life on board one of the Navy's newest carriers.
Rachael said there are two galleys on board, one in the aft or back of the ship and one forward. The chiefs and officers have their own galleys.
They have a main chow line that serves two meats, two vegetables, two other side dishes like macaroni and cheese or rice and a dessert. There is a satellite bar for quick tacos or salads with a large assortment of vegetables to put on salads with two choices of soup.
Then they have the sub sandwich line where you can choose from a variety of meats, cheeses, veggies and condiments. The last line is called the speed line where you can get chicken nuggets, hamburgers, chicken wings or hot dogs with all of the accompaniments.
Since this is the fastest line in preparation, the line is the longest and is usually too long for them to wait in. Rachael says she loves the chicken Parmesan and Garrett said he loved the sub sandwiches the most. That seems funny because he never liked subs as a teenager.
Garrett says you are encouraged to limit yourself to a 5-minute shower because the ship only generates 400,000 gallons of fresh water a day after it's distilled. Rachael says there are incredibly long lines to accomplish almost any personal task such as sending packages to family, accessing the computers to check personal e-mails or even to buy a soda which are reasonably priced at 50 cents. You can also buy a candy bar for only 25 cents. The ship offers multidenominational religious services for all sailors every single day.
When I asked what surprised them the most when they first boarded the ship, they both agreed the sheer size of the ship blew their minds. It was so much larger than what they expected. Also, they both said, with such a large number of people on board they never see any one person twice in one day. It truly is a floating city.
The sleeping quarters are called six packs that are about the size of a cot. They stack three high with about 6 inches of storage under the cot for their belongings. They also have a stand-up locker to hang their uniforms that is about 2 1/2 feet tall and maybe 10 inches wide. That's not very much room to fit clothes for a man who is 6 feet 5 inches and wears a size 13 shoe.
There are about a dozen pay phones on the ship and usually the lines are really long to use them. They command suggests you limit your phone calls to 10 or 15 minutes to be courteous to your fellow sailor. You can only use the phone cards that you purchase from the boat and they run about a dollar a minute. Wow, forget about sending them the Costco phone cards that are about three cents a minute for a birthday present.
On board they have access to a doctor, dentist, eye doctor, barber, a 7/11 type store, library, game shop and a full-service post office.
One of the coolest things they like to do is to watch are the planes taking off and land. They even get to jog around the flight deck when no planes using it.
Life on board an aircraft carrier sounds very exciting. Wouldn't you like to join the US Navy and get a chance to see the world?
Sorry, last week I forgot to put the phone number in and they are not in the directory yet. You can reach them at 267-0483.
-- Lisa Welch is a Johnson Lane resident and can be reached at 267-9350.