When approaching the astoundingly huge floating metal structure, it's extremely hard to grasp the immense power and capabilities it holds. The bleak grey naval fighting ship, the USS Valley Forge (CG-50), is an amazing sight to be seen in the harbor of San Diego. At 2,513 tons of dead weight and a displacement of 9,909 tons, the Valley Forge is one of the largest cruisers in the world today. A ship of multiple purposes and endless uses make this ship irreplaceable to the Naval fleet. I've seen it used for war, protection, drug operations, and many other tasks, but to me, this was home. Working on this colossal vessel is an experience few Americans can relate to unless they've been in the US Navy.
Coming back to this Titanic-like vessel from the last seemingly short night of liberty before a long trip out to sea can be one of dread and anxiety.
It's been about a week since we've finished the long practice runs and tedious training of the new recruits for the many treacherous months to come. Few are looking forward to the grueling trip, but most everyone is prepared. It's 4:30 in the morning now, and it's time to begin the final checks to make sure we get safely underway.
As I enter the cold, dark operations room, I have to stand for a minute to let my eyes adjust to the change of light. I walk swiftly over to a radar station and start powering up. I then dart from one station to the next flicking on and checking each of the thirteen stations that I'm in charge of. When I finish up with the last station, I crawl in behind it to a cramped, shadowed space to turn on the valve that allows the ice...