Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Compare That To Twenty Years Ago

About twenty years ago this month, I was standing on the hangar deck of the USS Nimitz about 8:00 in the morning. At sunrise, we had passed between the north and south islands of Japan. I was standing there watching the islands slip away behind us in hangar bay 3. The rearmost aircraft elevator was down at hangar level... which gave the hangar deck a little bit more daylight than usual.

Then, there was a loud buzzing of propellers, and about 150 feet away from the side of the ship, and about 300 feet up, passed a Russian Bear going from fore to aft. It was banked a fair amount, probably so that the air crew could get a good look at us. They were so low, they probably were looking eye to eye with the folks in the bridge 15 decks above where I was standing.

So, it is with a small amount of mirth that I read CNN's breathless account of a Russian bomber "buzzing" the Nimitz at an altitude of 2,000 feet, with another bomber coming "within 50 miles" of my old ship. Puh-leeze. For those of us that served in the Navy before the cold war ended, that's child's play.

8 comments:

ChangFai said...

Jil
Did you come to Pattaya with the Nimitz....?..Songkran 1993 ?

Jil In Pattaya said...

Yes, my first visit to Pattaya was from the Nimitz... but it was approximately February of 1989... 19 years ago.

(The incident I related to in this post regarding the Bear was actually in September of 1988, so 19½ years ago to be more precise.)

Anonymous said...

so thats how you found Pattaya...I always wondered.

Anonymous said...

I find your story interesting from a navy piont of view. I as an Ex Air Force member accidentally flew near carrier wings afloat and assumed something totally different. We were given warnings that we would be shot down if we overflew the carrier and were escorted away from the carrier with a few fighters. It was a really big deal that we came within a certain distance of the ship. I would assume the rules of engagement for a carrier would suspect anything that approaches a nuclear vessel as a threat to national security and be allowed to shoot down any percieved threat. I would have never guessed they would be allowed to get that close and definitely not ever allowed to overfly directly. But you make it sound like it is a normal occurence. I would have never guessed that.

from Jakal

Jil In Pattaya said...

Jakal,

I assume that the ship was fully aware, and even had alert fighters ready to launch. However, being within sight of land (about 5 or 6 miles), with a lot of Japanese civilian air traffic around (I even saw a television news helicopter flying nearby, probably filming us), it probably limited the captain's and CAG's actions to the "deadly serious" type, which they chose not to follow.

Heh: Now that I think about it, a bomber flying at 2,000 feet directly over the flight deck, versus a bomber flying low and off to the side is probably a much more concerning proposition consdering that the only armament the aircraft has on board are things that pretty much fall straight downward.

Xioa DiDi said...

You beat me by 2 years, 1991 on the Texas was my first taste...

We "accidentally" wandered close to Vladivostok, with the headlights out, one night and had those silly Bears buzzin' around all the way to Hawaii for 2 weeks.

Tom said...

I first made it to Pattaya courtesy of the U.S. Navy in 1983. Liked Pattaya; less enthusiastic about the Navy. :)

internationalhardman said...

Hey buddy...

Just wanted to say hi mate... I'm currently servinging the British Royal Navy on Hunter Killer Submarines.

Long before I joined the service I went onboard the Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier in Dubai for a Christmas Carol concert.