Howard in the Navy: On the Flight Deck

Taking to the high seas in the US Navy means you also have to fly over them. The flight deck is about as dangerous of a place to be. 

Jets are landing and catapulting off the ship every few minutes.  Each day before flight operation, members of the flight deck crew do a FOD Walkdown, one foot in front of the other. Eyes looking straight down, picking up trash, metal, any object that can get stuck in a plane’s engine. Or ricocheted, injuring a member of the crew. The flight deck can operate 24 hours a day. So do these sailors. 

“If you see these TV shows, the deadliest job in the world. Guess what the deadliest job in the world is: flight deck of an aircraft carrier during flight ops,” said James Stedding, the command master chief on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Everyone wears head protection and life vests waiting for that next plane. 

“It’s a ballet with a lot of noise,” said Putnam Brown, the ship’s commanding officer. 

They can handle 100 flights a day. 

“The people here pretty much know their jobs,” said Brown. 

Those jobs are done 24 hours a day. 

“To always keep us ready in case one of these scenarios does happen,” said Kyle Darmanin, a native of Mooresville. 

In a drill, during General Quarters, the scenario is a jet coming in without landing gear. If it were to happen they would catch the plane in a net. That plane would inevitably crash to the flight deck and erupt in a ball of flames 

“It’s very fast paced, it’s very in your face and its very make or break you,” said Lauren Smith who has been in the Navy for 8 years. 

The drill is done once a week while the ship is underway. 

“We all go through the same firefighting training to be able to combat and fight for the ship and save the integrity of the ship,” said Smith. 

The motto of the USS Abraham Lincoln is “Shall not perish.” 

The ship was commissioned back in 1989. Three thousand live and work onboard each and every day. 
The flight deck’s biggest claim to fame is President George W. Bush, Number 43, declared “Mission Accomplished” for major combat operations in Iraq back in 2003.

These pieces highlight Howard's experience with our men and women in the United States Navy. They are written in the first person for that reason.