Carrier: A Guided Tour of an Aircraft Carrier, p.1Tom Clancy
Table of Contents
Naval Aviation 101
Hand on the Helm: An Interview with Admiral Jay Johnson
Wings of Gold : A Naval Aviator’s Life
Building the Boats
Tools of the Trade: Birds and Bombs
Carrier Battle Group: Putting It All Together
Final Examination: JTFEX 97-3
Aircraft Carriers in the Real World
NOVELS BY TOM CLANCY
The Hunt for Red October
Red Storm Rising
The Cardinal of the Kremlin
Clear and Present Danger
The Sum of All Fears
Debt of Honor
The Bear and the Dragon
The Teeth of the Tiger
SSN: Strategies of Submarine Warfare
Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship
Armored Cav: A Guided Tour of an Armored Cavalry Regiment
Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing
Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit
Airborne: A Guided Tour of an Airborne Task Force
Carrier: A Guided Tour of an Aircraft Carrier
Special Forces: A Guided Tour of U.S. Army Special Forces
Into the Storm: A Study in Command
(written with General Fred Franks, Jr., Ret., and Tony Koltz)
Every Man a Tiger
(written with General Charles Homer, Ret., and Tony Koltz)
Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces
(written with General Carl Stiner, Ret., and Tony Koltz)
(written with General Tony Zinni, Ret., and Tony Koltz)
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Berkley trade paperback edition / February 1999
eISBN : 978-1-101-00225-4
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It’s hard when you lose friends. Especially those who were close or important to what you have been doing. This last year was especially tough, because we lost four people special to our efforts. To these men we dedicate this book:
Dr. Jeffery Ethell, Ph.D. An aviation historian, pilot, commentator, and friend with unparalleled credentials, who died in June 1997 while flying a vintage P-38 Lightning in Oregon.
Mr. Russell Eggnor. Director of the Navy Still Photo Branch at the Pentagon, he lost a fight to cancer in June 1997. Though Russ did not write the words in our books, the office and organization that he built supplied images and stories for every volume in this series.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Van Winkle, USMC. The Executive Officer of VMFA-251, he was a constant source of wisdom and truth in the “Dirty Shirt” mess aboard USS George Washington (CVN-73). “Rip” Van Winkle died as a result of a midair collision in the Persian Gulf while flying an F/A-18 Hornet on February 6th, 1998.
Lieutenant General David J. McCloud. Head of the Alaskan Air Command and U.S. Forces in Alaska, Dave McCloud was an old and trusted friend of ours. When he and another flier died on July 26th, 1998, in the crash of a small aerobatic aircraft, his friends and the nation lost a treasure, which will not easily be replaced. We will miss you, “Marshall.”
As we finish up the sixth book in this series, it is once again time to give credit where it is due. I’ll start with my longtime friend, partner, and researcher, John D. Gresham. Once again, John met the people, took the pictures, spent nights aboard ship, and did all the things that make sure readers feel like they are there. We also have again benefited from the wisdom, experience, and efforts of series editor Professor Martin H. Green-berg, Larry Segriff, and all the staff at Tekno Books. Laura DeNinno is here again with her wonderful drawings, which have added so much to this book. As well, Tony Koltz and many others all need to be recognized for their outstanding editorial support that was so critical and timely.
Carrier required the support of many senior sea service personnel in a number of sensitive positions. In this regard, we have again been blessed with all the support that we needed and more. At the top were Admiral Jay Johnson and our old friend General Chuck Krulak. Both of these officers gave us their valuable time and support, and we cannot repay their trust and friendship. Their boss, Secretary of the Navy John Dalton, gave us critical support as well. Elsewhere around the Washington Beltway, we had the help of other influential leaders. Folks like Rear Admirals Dennis McGuinn and Carlos Johnson, and Captain Chuck Nash made it possible to get the information that we needed. This year, our home-away-from-home was the ships of the George Washington battle group, and they took us to some really exciting places. Led by Rear Admiral Mike Mullen, this unit is key to helping keep us safe in a dangerous world. Running the GW was an extraordinary crew led by Captains “Yank” Rutheford and Mark Groothausen, as well as Commander Chuck Smith. These men took us under their wings, and kept us warm and fed. Thanks also to Captains Jim Deppe of USS Normandy and Jim Phillips of USS Vella Gulf for sharing insights and time and lettin
Another group that is always vital to our efforts consists of the members of the various military public and media offices (PAOs) that handled our numerous requests for visits, interviews, and information. Tops on our list were Rear Admirals Kendall Pease and Tom Jurkowsky in CHINFO at the Pentagon. Also at CHINFO were our project officers, Lieutenants Merritt Allen and Wendy Snyder, who did so much to keep things going. Over in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations was Captain Jim Kudla, who coordinated our interview requests. Down with the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia, Commander Joe Gradisher, Lieutenant Commander Roxy Merritt, and Mike Maus ably assisted us. Then there were the folks of the GW’s PAO shop, led by the outstanding Lieutenant Joe Navritril. Along with Joe, an excellent young crew of media-relations specialists took us on some memorable adventures. Finally, we want to thank the special folks at the Navy Still Photo Branch, who have serviced our needs for so many years. They include Lieutenant Chris Madden and an incomparable staff of photographic experts. We thank them for their efforts as friends and professionals.
Again, thanks are due to our various industrial partners, without whom all the information on the various ships, aircraft, weapons, and systems would never have come to light. Down at Newport News Shipbuilding, we were allowed a look that few outsiders have ever had. Thanks are owed to Jerri Fuller Dickseski, Bill Hatfield, Mike Peters, Mike Shawcross, the folks from the U.S. Navy SUSHIPS office, and literally thousands of others. At the aircraft manufacturers, there were Barbara Anderson and Lon Nordeen of Boeing, Joe Stout, Karen Hagar, and Jeff Rhodes of Lockheed Martin, and finally, our old friend Bill Tuttle of Boeing Sikorsky. We also made and renewed many friendships at the various missile, armament, and system manufacturers, including: Tony Geishanuser and Vicki Fendalson at Raytheon Strike Systems, Larry Ernst at General Atomics, Craig Van Bieber at Lockheed, and the eternal Ed Rodemsky of Trimble Navigation. We also received an incredible amount of help from Dave “Hey Joe” Parsons and the fine folks at Whitney, Bradley, & Brown, Inc.
We owe thanks for all of our friends in New York, especially Robert Gottlieb, Debra Goldstein, and Matt Bialer at William Morris, as well as Robert Youdelman and Tom Mallon, who took care of the legal details. Over at Berkley Books, our highest thanks go to our series editor, Tom Colgan, as well as David Shanks, Kim Waltemyer, and the staff of Berkley Books. To old friends like Matt Caffrey, Jim Stevenson, A. D. Baker, Norman Polmar, and Bob Dorr, thanks again for your contributions and wisdom. Thanks also to the late Jeff Ethell and Russ Eggnor, who gave so much of themselves to us and the world. And to all the folks who took us for rides, tours, shoots, and exercises, thanks again for teaching the ignorant how things really work. As for our friends, families, and loved ones, we again thank you.
“Where are the carriers?” This has been the likely first question asked by every President of the United States since World War II when faced with a developing international crisis that involves U.S. interests. It was probably also asked by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (the Commander in Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet) after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor initiating World War II. This same question was always a top concern of the Soviet leadership throughout the Cold War. It drove an inordinate amount of their military expenditures, as well as many of their operational planning decisions.
More recently, in March of 1996, two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups (CVBGs) were dispatched to the Taiwan Straits after the People’s Republic of China launched a program of ballistic missile exercises close to Taiwan. The presence of the two aircraft carrier groups so close to the mainland of China defused the crisis, and prevented a Chinese escalation or miscalculation of our resolve.
The following year saw the latest in a series of crises with Iraq over Saddam Hussein’s refusal to meet United Nations inspection criteria over his weapons of mass destruction. This was responded to by sending two more CVBGs to the Persian Gulf, this time to prepare for possible strikes on Iraqi targets had that been necessary.
Clearly, the flexibility, mobility, and independence of these versatile and forward-deployed assets will keep them center stage as our nation leads the world in the transition to a free-market system of democracies.
The rapid development and growth of airpower as the primary enabling capability for military operations represents one of the true military revolutions of the 20th century. At the close of this century, with manned space exploration and earth-orbiting satellites commonplace, it is hard to conceive that just ninety-five years ago, the Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. That historic first effort traveled less distance than the wingspan of a modern jumbo jet. However, things began to rapidly progress with the coming of the First World War. With the start of the Great War visionaries around the world realized the potential significance of aviation capabilities on military operations. By 1914, then-Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels had announced “that the point has been reached where aircraft must form a large part of our naval forces for offensive and defensive operations.” It was an insightful thought.
The ensuing twenty-five years before our entry into World War II saw the United States developing the assets and vision to take airpower to sea in a way unmatched by any other nation. As a maritime nation dependent on the sea lines of communications for its economic and national security interests, the United States would need the edge provided by Naval aviation to win the greatest over-water military campaigns ever conducted. The history of the Second World War in the Pacific documents the great debt of gratitude our nation owes to the early pioneers of naval aviation. These were legendary men like Glenn Curtis, Eugene Ely, Theodore Ellyson, John Towers, John Rogers, Washington Chambers, Henry Mustin, and many more too numerous to mention.
However, it was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, with the war cry of “Tora ... Tora ... Tora!” and our own lax state of readiness, that Japan brought home to the world the impact of carrier aviation.1 The fact that none of our three Pacific-based aircraft carriers were in port that fateful morning may have been the single most significant factor in our eventual victory during the Great Pacific War. At the time of our entry into World War II, the U.S. Navy had just seven big-deck aircraft carriers in commission: Saratoga, Lexington, Ranger, Yorktown, Enterprise, Wasp, and Hornet. These “seven sisters” would take the war to our enemies from Casablanca and Malta to Midway and Guadalcanal.
Clearly, Admiral Yamamoto knew that Japan had awakened a “sleeping giant,” and he believed a prolonged war would go in favor of the United States. He knew the potential productivity of American industry and its people, something that he had witnessed personally while on naval attaché duty in Washington. Thus it was that Japan, needing a quick decisive victory over the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, set in motion the great sea battle off Midway Island in mid-1942.2 Yamamoto mustered an overwhelming naval armada, designed to take Midway and hand the U.S. Navy and their carrier groups a crushing defeat. However, when the Battle of Midway was over, the tide had turned in the Pacific, though not in the favor of Japan. Thanks to the raw courage and aggressive tactics of the U.S. carrier pilots as well as superb intelligence, four Japanese carriers and a cruiser were sunk. In the process, Japan’s ability to project naval air power throughout the vast Pacific was crippled forever.
The U.S. carrier groups and their courageous aviators had, on paper, no right to win. But win they did. The cost was not insignificant; fifteen of fifteen aircraft and twenty-nine of thirty aircrew in Torpedo Squadron 8 alone were lost. Along with scores of American aircraft and their crews, the USN lost the Yorktown and a destroyer.3 However, finding a way to win in the face of adversity is a naval aviation tradition.
Today, U.S. carrier aviation is inextricably tied to the concept of United States forward presence and power projection; the
The independence, sustainability, and staying power of naval units often makes them the forces of choice for our National Command Authorities. This includes protecting the sea-lanes for a global free-market economy, reinforcing and supporting American embassies, and executing non-combatant evacuations of American citizens overseas. These and many other missions are ideally suited to our forward-deployed naval forces. This has been continuously demonstrated in places like the Taiwan Straits, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Albania, the Central African Republic, Liberia, Zaire, and Sierra Leone. America is an island nation, dependent upon the seas for our economic prosperity and security. There was good reason why our founding fathers determined the need for the nation to maintain naval forces and raise an army. We should occasionally remind ourselves of this reality, since it is the geopolitics, not the geography of the world, that has changed over time.
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