Fleet Week and the USS Kearsarge – Part 2

It was Fleet Week. In yesterday’s post, I talked about the outside and the inside of the USS Kearsarge, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, or a LHD. It took me a while to find exactly what “LHD” stands for. I found it in a GAO report that states: “Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships are the Navy’s new class of amphibious assault ships to support a Marine landing force. These ships can accommodate three landing craft, AV-8B Harrier aircraft, and the full range of Navy and Marine Corps helicopters. Commissioned in 1989, the U.S.S. Wasp (LHD 1) is the lead ship of this new class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships. Between 1992 and 1998, the Navy added five more LHD ships to its fleet. LHD class ships can accommodate 104 officers; 1,004 enlisted sailors; and 1,894 Marine Corps troops.”

Anyway, I finally got to the flight deck. It is mildly impressive. Or massively impressive. Depending on if you can be impressed by something more than three football lengths long and holding really cool aircraft. But no Harriers. Unfair! I wanted to see me a Harrier. Anyway, I was ready to be impressed and was impressed. It’s just big.

In the above, not the small circles on the deck. More tie downs. These guys are serious about wanting to secure stuff when necessary.

There were several types of helicopters on display. Below is the CH-46 Sea Knight.

And then there was the MV-22B Osprey. It was at the front part of the flight deck. They allowed a walk-thru and I managed to get a picture of the cockpit. You weren’t allowed to sit up there, but it was cleared for viewing.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft. Eventually, it may replace many/most/all of the helicopters. It has a lot more range and a lot more speed than the copters. I, for one, am still a bit concerned about them. I think the Osprey was cancelled at one point due to concerns over the complexity of the engineering and testing failures. They seem to have worked them out, but you never know.

Here’s the view from next to the Osprey. I really like the view of the conning tower from here.

There wasn’t free reign to wander around. Lots of secured areas. I imagine all the coolest stuff is behind here…but then the Osprey itself is awfully cool. There were a number of secured areas below and no ability to see the crew quarters and the like.

But the coolest I saw was the MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter. This one is used in sea rescue. I talked with one of the guys doing the public relations stuff. He was a Navy rescue jumper. Yeah, one of the guys who jumped into the ocean to rescue people. We talked for a while. He was still in training (it’s about a 1.5 year course) and had done a lot of interesting stuff. The biggest seas he’s jumped into? About five or six foot swells. If it’s only your head above water, them’s mountainous waves. He expressed a lot of interest in getting into the artic training. That’s apparently the creme-de-la-creme of the job. Unreal stuff.

Just in case you don’t know, you’re warned…

After I left the ship, I was going through to the exit and saw something that interested me. The bomb disposal display. I talked with another of the crew. They had just gotten back from Iraq and had done a lot of work finding and disposing of bombs. Nicely done, guys.

I don’t know their names, their classifications, or anything about them. The below ships weren’t set for tourist like me. I presume they are cruisers.

As I was walking away, there was an overflight. No, they didn’t land on the carrier.

-H

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