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Life on an Aircraft Carrier

Updated on January 3, 2012

If you:

  1. Are thinking of joining the Navy, watch this documentary: you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it is really like;
  2. Have served in the Navy, watch this documentary: you’ll enjoy seeing shipboard life again;
  3. Have a loved one who has served, is serving, or considering serving in the Navy, watch this documentary: it will help you gain an much deeper understanding of those years in his or her life;
  4. Are thinking of joining any other branch of the military, have served in any other branch, or have a loved one with an interest in any other branch, watch this documentary: the experience of other branches will no doubt be different, but this Navy documentary will nonetheless help you understand what it is like to do a hitch in the service;
  5. Are a citizen or resident of the United States and therefore will meet, work with, or live near military and former military people.

Gee, the groups listed above cover every breathing person in America, don’t they? Watch this documentary!

You can watch it for free over the internet on the Public Broadcasting Station WETA’s website, or you can buy the DVD from them, or you can find it for viewing on several other internet sites. FYI, the PBS station has all of the sailors’ swear words bleeped out, if that concerns you.

I greatly enjoyed this show. It is very well done, from content to camera work to soundtrack. It tells the story of the U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier Nimitz on a deployment to the Middle East, and it does so from the perspective of officers and enlisted crew. There are quick interviews of all kinds of crew, but there are also running stories of a handful of crew, from episode to episode, so you can see how different aspects of life on board a carrier affect individual lives. You follow some of these crew for a year of their lives, so you really do get an idea of what carrier life is like.

By the way, if you have a teenager in the house, this show is an interesting, indirect way to show him or her what it means to take responsibility for their lives. Some of the crew profiled make good decisions and build their lives up; some make bad decisions and – because it’s the military – they pay the consequences pretty much immediately. Watch it together or separately; either way, there’s plenty of fodder there for breaching the subject of life management. Unlike a sermon the kids will ignore, you can use the stories to let the subject flow naturally into a conversation.

There are 10 episodes, a few of which are:

  • Episode 2: Controlled Chaos
  • Episode 5: Show of Force
  • Episode 7: Rites of Passage
  • Episode 9: “Get Home-itis”

Each episode is about an hour long BUT on the PBS site, each episode is broken up into 10 to 15 minute segments. This makes it really handy to watch a little at a time, which is what I did, when I ate dinner alone.

I did one 4-year hitch, right out of high school. I did not serve on a carrier, and I think I should say that the Nimitz is a newer and cleaner ship than mine was and seems to have better overall morale, pride, and discipline than my ship did. To describe my experience, I have often borrowed Dicken’s words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This documentary portrayed that fairly. I highly recommend watching this, because it is certainly not a waste of time: it is both entertaining and informative. Watch this documentary!

By the way, if you're a veteran of any branch, or if you have loved a veteran of any branch, you might like my hub about the fraternity of ALL who have served. Check out The Instructor and The Grizzled Men


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    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      This made me smile. My dad did 20 years on a carrier. Well, three carriers, really. The Radford, the Stennis and the T.R. Roosevelt. I always enjoyed listening to his stories about life on board...and even better, adventures on shore leave!


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