Category Archives: Carriers

Part L  Another trip to the tanker, bad news

A quarter mile to go, almost there, five seconds, all the world he cared about a-tiptoe, holding its breath. The big tanker pulling abeam the fighter on approach.

The blue shirt working his way aft to the deck edge elevator, tripping across an night enshrouded tie-down chain, reeling suddenly to his right, arms grasping for purchase in the darkness, legs churning underneath him, fighting for his footing, stumbling across the foul line before falling to his knees, head bowed. Disgraced.

The arresting gear officer facing forward on the starboard side aft, his back to the approaching Hornet, seeing the blue shirt fall across the foul line and taking his thumb off the dead-man switch, like he’d been trained.

The deck status light turning from green to red. The sudden shout on the LSO platform, “FOUL DECK!”

The momentary pause, considering, rejecting, releasing: “Wave-off, wave-off. Foul deck.” Hitting the pickle switch’s guarded button, the red lights flashing on their backs. Regretfully. Nothing to be done – just the way things are.

An explosive, unitary curse on the bridge, in the tower, in the cockpit of the AT2’s jet undergoing maintenance. A chorus of disbelieving shouts and curses in CATCC, in the ready room, in maintenance control, across the ship.

Full power and catch the AOA, harsh language in his mask before taking a ragged breath and keying the mike, “311 airborne.”

“311 approach, roger. Take angels one-point-two, your tanker at right one o’clock and one mile, report plugged and receiving.”

“311.”

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Part XLIX A night approach, the world awaits

Oh, I’m ready to land, am I? the wingman thought grimly. I guess I’d better be. Anyway, ready or not, here I come.

“311 flight break-up now,” a new speaker, the smoothly cool voice of an air traffic control petty officer, “These will be vectors for a Mode II approach, turn left heading 175 for downwind, descend and maintain angels one-point-two.”

“311 roger, left to 175, angels one-point-two.”

“311, approach, final bearing 005, Gold Eagle altimeter two-niner-niner-five.”

“Copy two-niner-niner-five,” too quickly, it was all happening too quickly, the JG thought, scrambling to catch back up on his penetration and approach checklists, feeling the cockpit start to press in on him again.

His lead’s voice on the aux radio now, cheerily, “Lead’s detaching. See you on deck.” Everyone’s trying to buck me up, the wingman thought. Wish I could be as optimistic as he’s pretending to be.

“See you on deck, skipper,” the JG replied, trying to sound confident, mentally adding, “I hope.”

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Part XLVIII  Tanker rendezvous, and troubleshooting

Down in CATCC, the XO gathered himself before speaking into the UHF radio handset, “Good news, Skipper – we’re taking you guys first – you need to head down to angels six to take a couple hundred pounds off the tanker – if that doesn’t unstick 311’s drop tank, have him stop transfer on the left. The trapped gas there will put him back in asymmetric limits for the landing. Worst comes to worst, he can use that gas after he bolters on the way to Shaikh Isa.”

“304, roger,” replied the squadron CO before switching to his aux radio. “Good news, pard – they’re taking us first.”

“311, roger,” answered the wingman, suddenly realizing that in the gloomy tension of his cockpit, his right hand had been “squeezing the black juice” out of the control stick while he had been waiting for the invisible and unknowable forces that governed his fate to come to a decision – any decision – about the next half hour of his life. Or maybe, he reflected, about the rest of it. “Good news.”

“Let’s head for the tanker.”

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Part XLVI Decision Time

External tanks were rather alarmingly expensive – there were only so many spares in the carrier’s hangar bay – and hurling them into the sea regardless was considered very bad form. Keep that sort of thing up and pretty soon the FA-18Cs were out of the fight. Like most of his breed, the squadron CO was not a “path of least resistance” kind of guy.

“OK, I’m on step 4 now, checklist page E51: Bleed air knob ” Cycle through “Off” to “Norm.”

“Two.”

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Rhythms the Compendium

Welcome to the “Rhythms” home page, a blogvel of sorts in several parts. The author’s attempt was to reveal elements of life aboard an aircraft carrier on the line. He had no idea it would take so long, and leave so very much untold.

Carroll F. “Lex” LeFon  

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Knobology

By lex, on January 18th, 2012

Sometimes you really have to look to be sure you’re pressing the right button:

Passengers flying over the Atlantic reacted in horror when a recorded message told them on two occasions that their plane could be about to crash.

Many of those who were awake and heard the announcement began screaming. The plane was cruising at about 35,000ft at the time.

Cabin staff quickly reassured passengers that the message had been played by accident.

That must have been reassuring.

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Dry and getting dryer

By lex, on September 15th, 2006

Unlike the Brits, and other, more civilized services, ours is a “dry navy” while at sea – no drinking. Our tee-totaling Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels shut down the officer’s wine messes in 1914, and from that point on it’s been bottles over the side and “farewell to all that.” We even named a ship after him, if you can believe it.

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A Bridge Too Far?

By Lex, on August 13, 2010

Credit where it’s due, SecDef Gates does not forbear to go where angels fear to tread:

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Index – The Rest of Neptunus Lex

Two years ago when we decided to recreate what we could of  Lex’s website, one of my goals was to make “The Best” of his posts far more accessible than simply finding them via search engine (if one could remember search parameters!) or reading through 100s – or 1000s – of posts sequentially.  I am pleased to see this “Best of” index being used on a regular basis by readers all over the world.

The main index was getting so large I felt it was almost unmanageable. So here are some more “Best of”! And, there are over 1,700 posts not indexed in either Best of or Rest of….

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Salty

By Lex

Posted on October 13, 2006

 

It was a long flight out to the ship, three hours strapped down in a COD, facing backwards. It was worth it all though, because I’m back at sea again and loving it, frankly. It isn’t just the gentle lift and roll of a warship in the open ocean, nor is it the familiar sights and smells: the fighters in tension on the cat, screaming to be released; the all-pervading flight deck smell of grease and JP; the ringing of the ship’s bells as the watch is relieved; the always-different faces that somehow seem as familiar as those of your own family – people you’ve never met but instantly know; the way that the sky and sea frolic in the distance, the way both of them seem to tease you, always running on before, always just out of reach no matter how fast you chase after them. Those things are good and precious and there is deep, abiding magic in them, but there is more.

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