So one thing that caught my eye when Jules and I were up in San Francisco for Fleet Week was an aircraft carrier*. Yup, an aircraft carrier* that I could tour.
However, the line was blocks long so we decided to skip it on Saturday. Once we got back home, I looked up to see when the fleet was shipping out. They didn’t leave till monday, so I had another chance to step foot on the
aircraft carrier BDAS before it left. After waking up early and heading up to San Francisco, I got in line and went through security.
(Thanks to my friend Steve who is in the Navy, I’ve now learned this is a “Big Deck Amphibious Ship” not an true “aircraft carrier”.)
Standing before me was the USS Makin Island LHD-8. Smaller than a “typical” aircraft carrier (because it’s a BDAS), it doesn’t have a runaway of any sort. All of the aircrafts on the ship are owned by the Marines and all of them take off vertically. There were many types of aircrafts ranging from a V-22 Osprey, to a Harrier jet, to multiple helicopters such as Blackhawks and Pave Lows. These aircrafts are only part of what this
carrier BDAS holds.
Below deck is where the land vehicles are stored. Brought on and off the ship via hovercraft, (think the desert scene from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) these tanks, rocket launchers, and armored personnel carriers are part of the strike force that this
carrier BDAS brings.
The Navy (who owns and operates the carrier itself) opened up the flight deck and cargo hold for tours. Once our small tour group was called in, we got to explore the ship. I lost my tour group pretty soon after we boarded while I wandered around the cargo hold. Thanks to a great Marine (who will remain nameless) I got to crawl around/in an LAV-25A2 assault vehicle. I even got to sit in the gunners seat!
After I was done checking out the land vehicles, I headed up to the flight deck to check out the aircrafts. I’ve seen many of these aircrafts up close at the Andrews Air Force Base show, but this was the first time I saw them on a
carrier BDAS. I was shocked to see how compact a V-22 Osprey folds up to! It was also very cool to see San Francisco from a different angle.
Click to really enlarge!
To see more of the photos, check out the Flickr album here.
(I also want to thank the brave men and women who are serving in the Armed Forces and protecting this country. It’s quite an honor to sit in a vehicle and talk to a serviceman who have *both* been part of a overseas tour. I have an extreme respect for those who put them in harm’s way to keep us safe. Thank you all!)
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