Category Archives: Carriers


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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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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An apology for aircraft carriers

By Lex , on July 25, 2006


Just like the cicadas, every 17 years or so, someone smoking a pipe and wearing a tweed jacket will come out with the bold proposition that maybe it’s time for the US Navy to buy smaller, or fewer, or no aircraft carriers. This year, it was former Carter-era CIA director Stansfield Turner, joined now by US Rep Roscoe Bartlett, R-MD.

Admiral Turner wrote an article in the July issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings, entitled: “Do We Need Carriers?”

Turner argues that other, cheaper ships, equipped with large stocks of computer and satellite-guided missiles, could deliver as much combat power as a carrier without risk to pilots and other airmen.

“All weapons systems have their day and we move on,” Turner said in an interview. He worries that “military people have a tendency to stay with what’s tried, true and proven” without fully studying alternatives, he added.

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Golf Outing

By lex, on November 14th, 2011

Few things are as uninteresting to the non-golfer – or to the avid golfer, for that matter – than the details of someone else’s day on the links. I will spare you, therefore, the story of my thunderous drives, precision wedges and deft putting strokes, the ones that took me to the relatively pedestrian score of 84 (with two penalty strokes on 17 for an out-of-b0unds tee shot that veered wildly left and I’m practically certain that a flaw in the wind took it).

Not even going to mention it.

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Whisper: Still Life

By Whisper, on March 6th, 2011


Aviation photography has been a hobby of mine for over 15 years now. I truly got the bug in 2003 when the photo lab on Enterprise loaned me a Nikon D100 to take for a spin over Afghanistan and later Iraq. Earlier this year, on the occasion of a short form flight physical, my family was kind enough to throw some cash on the fire and upgrade my old Canon 10D to a 60D.  I hope to make you the beneficiary of this gift as well.

I decided to take my new toy up to the flight deck during a rain storm off the Florida coast last month. Hiding in the thirty knot rain shadow behind the nose of an E-2C Hawkeye parked along the foul line, I watched the day Case III recovery. There are a hundred different things to point out in the photo above, at least one of which I did not notice when composing it.

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Tailhooker’s Prayer

By lex, on September 22nd, 2010

(Ed – An oldie but goodie)

In the Beginning, God created the heavens, and the Aircraft Carrier, and the seas upon which to float it; and yet there was complete Darkness upon the face of the earth. And, as we traveled there came to us, as a voice out of the darkness, an angel of the Lord, saying, “On centerline, on Glideslope, three quarters of a mile, call the ball.” I reflected upon these words, for I was still yet engulfed in complete darkness. With deep feeling and doubt overwhelming my countenance, I glanceth towards my companion at my right hand and saith, “What seeth thou, trusted friend?” And there was a great silence.

Gazing in a searching manner and seeing naught, I raised my voice saying, “Clara…”

And the Lord spoke to me, and He said, “You’re low…power.” As the Lord saith, so shall it be, and I added power; and lo, the ball riseth up onto the bottom of the mirror. But it was a tainted red glow, and surely indicateth Satan’s own influence. And the Lord spoke to me again saying, “Power..Power…Power!!!! …fly the ball.” And lo, the ball had risen up and off the top of the lens, and the great darkness was upon me.

And the voice of the Angel came to me again, saying, “When comfortable, twelve hundred feet, turn downwind.” Whereupon I wandered in the darkness, without direction, for surely the ship’s radar was beset by demons, and there was great confusion cast upon CATCC, and there was a great silence in which there was no comfort to be found. Even my TACAN needle spinneth…and lo, there was chaos; my trusted companion weepeth quietly unto himself and from close behind I heard weeping and gnashing of teeth of our flock. There was a great turmoil within my cockpit for a multitude of serpents had crept therein.

And though we wandered, as if by Providence I found myself within that Holy Corridor, and at twelve hundred feet, among my brethren seeking refuge; and the voice of the Angel of the Lord came to me again, asking of me my needles, and I raised my voice saying, “Up and centered,” and the voice answered, “Roger, fly your needles…”

I reflected upon these words, and I raised my voice in prayer, for though my gyro indicateth it not so, surely my aircraft hath been turned upside down. Verily, as Beelzebub surely wrestled with me, a voice, that of my trusted companion, saith to me calmly, “Friend…fly thy needles, and find comfort in the Lord.” And lo, with deep trembling in my heart, I did, and He guideth me to centered glideslope and centerline, though I know not how it came to be.

And out of the great darkness, the Lord spoke to me again saying, “Roger ball” for now I had faith. And though the ball began to rise at the in close position, my right hand was full of the Spirit, and it squeeketh off power and as in a great miracle my plane stoppeth upon the flight deck, for it hath caught the four wire which the Lord in his infinite wisdom hath placed thirty feet further down the flight deck than the three wire.

And thus bathed in a golden radiance from above, our pilgrimage was at an end, and my spirit was truly reborn. And as I basked in the rapture, the Lord spaketh to me one final time, and He saith, “Lights on deck…”


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Hornet Gear

By lex, on October 9th, 2009

Occn’l Reader Peter finds a lovely photo of the Super Sh!t Hot, World Famous Golden Dragon CAG jet departing off Cat 3 (click on the pic for higher).


One of the first aircraft systems lectures I gave as a junior officer was on the FA-18 landing gear. The trailing axle lever arm assembly that you see fully extended on the port main landing gear and partly extended on the starboard is actually quite an elegant (albeit complicated) design that allows for compact stowage at low relative weight compared to older carrier designs.

Carrier landings impose tremendous stresses on aircraft landing gear, which is why tactical naval aircraft tend to have such robust landing assemblies compared to their USAF counterparts. The FA-18 axle lever arm allows for a rolling transfer of landing and take-off loads, and requires a somewhat articulated series of trailing and planing links to ensure that the gear extend and lock down properly.

The axle lever arm and planing link (in particular) were initially “under-engineered”, however. The first is milled from a solid block of titanium, and is on its third generation, having demonstrated an unfortunate tendency prior to redesign to shear after a few hundred arrested landings, while a planing link failure (which prevents the main landing tire from aligning with the aircraft’s longitudinal axis) resulted in one of the first Hornet fatalities.

Thanks for the pic, Pete!


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