|Photo: MCS 3c Sawyer Haskins, USN|
A week ago today, this photo was taken of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and the FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) operating together in the Mediterranean Sea.
My son-in-law (the one who was 100% disabled in Afghanistan) served on the Ike. I gave him a photo of the Ike for Christmas two years ago and it’s hanging on his wall.
The Eisenhower is beginning a Middle East cruise and is scheduled to return to Norfolk, VA at the end of summer. The de Gaulle will return to Toulon, France next month.
The Charles de Gaulle is the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ever built outside of the USA. As with the US, they powered it using nuclear power plants originally designed to be used by submarines. The French are big believers in nuclear power. 80% of the electric grid in France is powered by nuclear energy. They get the fuel from Africa, which explains, in part, their commitment to that blighted continent.
Russia tried to build a nuclear aircraft carrier twice. Neither attempt worked. Power projection from Russian ports is more effectively done by submarines. They all ice up except Vladivostok and in that case, it’s hemmed in by Japan. Geography was not kind to the Russians. The place is 9 time zones long. Their dream of their own nuclear aircraft carrier was more of a vanity project.
Their nuke icebreakers seem to do well. Different shipyards, I guess.
When the two ships for Sea Launch were being fitted out in Russia, there were constant materials "shortages", things "damaged in shipping", and things "lost" that significantly ran up the cost. One of the guys I worked with had been there since the beginning, and he showed me manifests indicating the Boeing had shipped FOUR TIMES the amount of wire and cable needed to outfit the ships. Nobody knew where it went, it just "disappeared".
The Russian ice breakers have a specific, vital mission. So they work because they must.
As to theft, I'm surprised it was only four times. I'm aware of the Russian mafia 'lifting' rails from railroad siding and selling the hardened steel to Taiwan. Which works until the railroad decides to send rolling stock up the siding.
What I know of carriers I learned from a man who worked with me. He had been a deck officer, as he called it, on the Enterprise. Worked on the bridge when they were underway. Not sure what side tacked his career, but suspect it was alcohol. He was diligent and reliable although an asshole. Not as big an asshole as me, so we got along.
We used to have a NASA van come out with equipment to verify the equipment on our end was suitable for use with their TDRSS satellite. Like most NASA vans, it was covered with decals from all the various missions and programs it had supported.
The next morning it looked like it had been repainted, as every…single…decal and sticker had been peeled off during the night.
We also had to lock up all our office supplies because if a box of copy paper or pens was left out, it disappeared as soon as you turned your back on it.
Most sticky-fingered bunch of individuals I've ever met…..
God watch over them.
And all of us as well.
I had a long conversation about aircraft carriers while hanging with navy types on Oahu. And I'm very much of two minds.
(1) I am pro-aircraft carrier because most of our conflicts are low intensity conflicts where the enemy lacks the capacity to destroy our aircraft carriers. And the presence of those aircraft on a few acres of American territory on the high seas can tilt the balance.
(2) In a big navy war, we'd lose aircraft carriers to submarines, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, etc. We lost them in WW2, and we have put a lot of our navy eggs in that basket.
(3) The future of aircraft carriers is twenty-four or so smaller and less grand ships that can carry strike packages and can also defend themselves to some degree.
(4) There are really only subs and targets. Who am I kidding?
Couldn't Russia base carriers out of their Black Sea fleet and exit out the Bosporus? Would that be a potential stranglehold for them if a carrier got sunk in the Strait? I am not a Navy man by any means, I think all boats are boats and I have been sorely reminded by squabs of my ignorance on several occasions having a beer or two with sailors boys.
The Bosporus is a choke point for an aircraft carrier. NATO (Turkey and Greece) control their exit. Now I realize that Turkey isn't the greatest of allies these days but the commitment and expense necessary to build an aircraft carrier battle group and home port them in the Black Sea would be a bad move in anyone's book.
I had a friend who was the HP rep in Moscow. He had theft stories from the bonded Hewlett-Packard warehouse that were also interesting. Apparently the Russian Army used a tank to batter down one wall of the warehouse, and then the complete inventory was stolen. The Russian Govt. later claimed that the tank had been stolen, but video of the event suggested that it was the army.
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