ATLANTIC OCEAN (CBSDFW.COM) – The United States Navy gave CBS 11 News an opportunity to do something few people will ever experience; fly to an aircraft carrier at sea and land on the deck.
The journey started in Norfolk, Virginia on a C2 cargo plane and ended aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. The two-hour flight started our 24 hours on the ship to meet local sailors from North Texas, and see how they serve.
The $4.5 billion warship stands more than 20 stories above the water line. It’s 97,000 tons and filled with more than 5,400 men and women, with an average age of just 23-years-old.
“Quite frankly, it makes me chuckle a little bit when I read the literature on millennials,” said ship Captain Nick Dienna. “I can’t emphasize that enough… they’re spectacular young men and women.”
Boatswain’s Mate Russell Crim grew up near Fort Worth and acts as a mentor to young sailors.
“On a boat this size, you can get lost pretty quick,” said Crim. He’s been in the Navy for 15 years. On the Truman he does everything from steer the ship to act as the “voice of the ship”.
Crim explained, “That means that every time you get on the mic, there are 5 thousand people listening to the words you put out.”
He announces drills, times check, emergencies and everything in between to everyone on the boat… and in places you may not expect to find on an aircraft carrier.
The ship has multiple gyms. Some workout areas have open-air, ocean views. There’s a movie room. The big screen was playing “Superbad” during our stay. The Truman even has a Starbucks. Yeah, a Starbucks. And a computer lab, connected to the internet.
“My generation, when we first came into the Navy we didn’t have that,” said Julia Gray. “It kind of drives me a little crazy, security wise.”
Gray is a Texan. She has family in North Texas. Her team on the ship monitors the web traffic of more than 5,000 sailors with access to Facebook.
“Yes, it is. It’s a little mind boggling,” said Gray.
But it’s the new normal for sailors who spend weeks or longer at sea.