A Day On The USS Harry S. Truman Aircraft Carrier

Post by Mark

flightdeck2

Last week I got an email from the US Embassy asking me if I would be interested in a very exclusive one-day trip onboard a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman. The occasion? In celebration of Kuwait’s 25th Liberation Anniversary. I replied super excited right away saying yes and then spent the whole weekend snowboarding nervously hoping I wouldn’t fall and end up breaking anything so I wouldn’t miss out on this once in a life time opportunity.

c2-1

Yesterday morning I woke up at 6:30AM and got all my stuff ready so I could be at the embassy before 8:15AM which was our departure time. I originally was planning on taking my big proper camera with a few lenses but last minute decided not to. Last year I decided I was going to spend less time worrying about capturing perfect shots and instead truly take in and enjoy whatever I was experiencing without having to share it with the world. So I decided to pack my small Sony RX1 (which is a legit camera anyway), my Kindle, a battery pack for my phone, motion sickness pills and a small bottle of water.

ussharry2

Once everyone had arrived to the embassy we took off to the military airbase located next to Sheikh Saad Terminal. After a quick safety briefing we headed onto the runway and got ready to board the Navy C-2 Aircraft that was waiting for us on the tarmac. We put on our lifejackets, helmets, ear protectors and goggles and then started boarding the super tiny plane. We were around 10 people in total including the US Ambassador, some members from the ministry of defence and ministry of interior, as well as a few civilians which included myself. We took off from the airbase and headed towards the aircraft carrier which was located somewhere in the Gulf between Kuwait and Qatar. It took us around 35 minutes to get to it and before we landed we were told to brace ourselves because the plane would hook onto the runway we would go from 240km/h to 0 in just two seconds. Thankfully the motion sickness pills worked and the landing wasn’t too dramatic.

flightdeck3

Once onboard the aircraft carrier thats when everything became surreal. I grew up watching Top Gun and Hot Shots and wanting to be an air force pilot. I even wore my vintage Porsche Design watch for this trip, the same watch Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun. So walking on the flight deck being saluted by the sailors as we headed into the ship felt like I was on the set of a movie.

We were greeted inside by the commander and commanding officer of the carrier along with other members of the Navy. After a bit of mingling we were geared up again and taken back to the flight deck where we would watch fighter jets take off and land from up close. What a ridiculous experience that was, I was all over the place, I wanted to snapchat, shoot video, take photos and enjoy the moment all at the same time. I was on a flight deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier watching fighter jets take off right in front of me and I wanted that moment to stay with me forever. I don’t think I’ve even taken it all in yet and its been more than 24 hours already.

After watching planes take off and land and then walk around the flight deck a bit we were taken on a tour of the bridge, command center and the hanger bay. The carrier is obviously ginormous with over 5000 people onboard and everyone always referring to it as a floating city which it really is. I usually get sea sick on boats but because the carrier is so huge it doesn’t sway in the water at all, it’s pretty much like being on island. We were pretty much allowed to walk around all the spaces we were in pretty freely without any restrictions. I was told I could take as many photos as I wanted of anything I wanted without having to worry about anything. They were extremely professional so if there were screens with any classified information on them they would just swap them with non classified information before we walked in.

During the tour I tried my best to listen to all the interesting information that was being shared to us but honestly I spent most of the time just aimlessly walking around in awe or just starring out of the window watching fighter jets take off and land or watching the rainbow warriors (aka Skittles) work on the flight deck. It was all so mesmerizing.

bridge

For the final leg of the tour we were taken to the hanger bay which is basically their underground parking and garage for the jets. I was actually really looking forward to this part of the tour since I had never seen the hanger bay neither in pictures nor on TV.

You really get an idea of how freakin’ huge this ship is when you’re in the hanger bay, not only is it large enough to park plans on the flight deck, but it’s so large that it can park planes and helicopters below deck as well. Crazy shit.

hangerbay

Once our tour was over we were given some souvenirs to keep and then geared up again to fly back to Kuwait. The takeoff was horrifying, crazy fucking shit and holly fuck all at the same time. Because the aircraft carrier runway is so short, all planes use a catapult system to help them hit 0 to 270km/h in just 2 seconds. To give you an idea of how crazy fucking fast that is, the rollercoaster at Ferrari World which I thought was ridiculously fast hits 240km/h in 4.9 seconds. So I’m not even sure how to describe to you the feeling of being blasted off the carrier at a beyond insane speed while sitting on seats that face the back of the plane. I was wearing earplugs as well as an over the ear hearing protector but once the catapult launches it just sounds like a rocket taking off. For the couple of seconds in which you are accelerating at full speed you’re basically in complete shock at how anything could be so violently fast. And then you hit euphoria. There is a moment when you reach the end of the runway and fly off the edge, everything suddenly goes quiet and you feel like you’re floating in your seat. I swear this must be exactly how astronauts feel when they leave earths atmosphere and reach space. What a ride, it’s killed rollercoasters for me for the rest of my life.

skittles

You know, I blog for fun and for I blog a living, and because I’ve been doing it daily and for such a long time, I don’t really appreciate the blog sometimes. It’s just something I do. Then something big like this happens and it reminds me that what I do is somewhat meaningful and it reenergizes me all over again. Over the past 11 years I’ve experienced some ridiculous shit that I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of experiencing if it wasn’t for this blog. I got to spend a day on an aircraft carrier, thats just unreal. Friday is my blogs 11 year anniversary so this was an amazing way to celebrate. Definitely a big thank you to everyone at the US Embassy for hooking me up.


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52 comments, add your own...


  1. Ron says:

    Absolutely AMAZING…this article is such a treat to us readers! How I wish I could experience the landing and take off from the carrier… :)

  2. Bonthapuri says:

    Congrats Mark! Unique experience..

  3. Kuwait says:

    Well done Mark, you deserve it! Interesting reading it so it must’ve been amazing experiencing it.

    Should’ve taken a video of the dazed passengers during take-off :)

  4. Mimi says:

    Oh wow, thanks for taking us along. Must have been such an incredible experience! :-) I’m so jealous of that take off! haha

  5. Victoria says:

    How awesome! My dad was on the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in 1991 so I have always been fascinated with the carriers. Your description of take off had me in tears! So happy you got to go and shared with us!

  6. teenum says:

    Don’t you ever stop blogging.

  7. jm says:

    great post you made us live the experiance….nice

  8. Matt says:

    It is a great foreign policy tool. It is 103,000 tons of “Fuck You” that can be driven right to most doorsteps.

  9. Neo says:

    There’s Mark Zuckerberg and then there’s Mark Makhoul…

    Awesome Post….

    You just took this blog to a whole other level…

    Happy 11th Anniversary

  10. Buzz says:

    How was the food? Do they have a bar in there? A movie theater? Sports arena? Shopping? Give us the mundane details about what its like to live there for months.

    • Jeff says:

      Buzz,

      I’m retired US Navy and did many years on 4 different aircraft carriers. There is no bar (I wish), no movie theater (although the ship has its own television network with multiple channels that get movies about the same time that HBO/Showtime get them). There are basketball courts on the hangar deck, the goals are retractable. There are also multiple gyms onboard. The ship has at least 2 ships stores where you can buy anything from snacks to electronics.
      I hope this answered your question

      • Nicolas says:

        How cool is that! Please write article about your experience on aircraft carriers and link it here if you can and if you have time for that. Maybe Mark will publish it as well.

      • Buzz says:

        Jeff,

        Thank you for sharing. I’m really interested in the mundane stuff. What’s a typical day like for someone who’s confined to a floating city for months. For example, what if you want to send money to your family, are there banks on board? What if you feel hungry in the middle of the night, is there a convenience store you can go to? What about the Internet, do you have free wifi? I understand that military life is completely different from civilian, but in the end we are all humans with needs. How does a Navy man carry on for months on end? Speaking of man, are there women on board?

  11. sala6a says:

    0-240 in 2 seconds then flying !! SHHHH**T

  12. Maz says:

    We can safely say that this is the post of the decade ! What a freakin cool experience !

  13. Firas says:

    Cool stuff! Love it

  14. RT says:

    👃👃👃

  15. ariston says:

    Congrats Mark! no doubt, this post is one of the best… :)
    Happy 11th year anniversary 248am.. :P

  16. Mathai says:

    That is so awesome! I would’ve been humming ‘Danger Zone’ all day long on that carrier :D

  17. Munsif says:

    What a capturing interpretation of the trip.. Awesome stuff!

  18. Ahmad jafar says:

    Mashallah well deserved homie. Beautiful blog post and happy 11th anniversary.

    Never.
    Stop.
    Blogging.
    Please.
    Never.
    Leave.

    Love you.

  19. Eugene says:

    Thanks for that super narrative! That takeoff experience is unbelievable! Happy 11th anniversary Mark, I’m new to your blog and happy I found it!

  20. aceboy44 says:

    You forgot to mention the jobs of the crew there! Like yellow dressing crew are like ground dispatchers that directs aircrafts to take-off. Green t-shirt crew repair jets. Purple t-shirt refuel the jets, and the red t-shirt re-arm the planes weapons.

    There was a documentary on youtube that explained precisely what’s onboard the US carrier. I also saw a GYM in the documentary :)

  21. James says:

    Mark,
    This is great. The pics are great. Congrats on the experience. The writeup isn’t the best you’ve written. It sounds like a 15 year old wrote it and rightly so – all the excitement was well mixed in. Here’s to more experiences that come your way. Keep at it.

  22. Inkuwait says:

    Congrats on the anniversary and mabrook for the trip!

  23. memememe says:

    Visit an Air craft carrier?!
    nay that’s nothing

    we want to know if
    you were able to snag some tickets from the ambass. for weekly happy-hour?

    • Expat lover says:

      I dont know what to say…the Oceans are heavily under explored unlike the space we go to above. Ships like these help make the world a more stable place to live in as well as serve the agenda of the United States which till now has been to destroy oppressive regimes and recreate democracies which has not been proven yet even in Iraqs case. With all this going on in the world Marks trip aboard this carrier is a real honor to witness for us readers but also a reminder that the world outside Kuwait is at a different pace one which we see only in movies….Not so cool to be left out of such a great mission to protect the world!

  24. Kuttan says:

    Awesome piece Mark. Was so fascinating to read and congrats on your blogging milestone !

  25. meh says:

    Did you feel like “AMEEERRIIIICAAAA … FUCK YEAH!”

  26. aiw says:

    Wow Mark, your post made us feel a part of your experience. Happy Anniversary to the blog!!

  27. Scarface says:

    hate your life. but respect Mark Makhoul *salute

  28. Nidal says:

    I’m really happy for you Mark! Congratulations and keep up the great work.

  29. Sossy says:

    Wow! Sounds freaking amazing. I’m happy a dream of your came true and thank you for sharing it with us in a way that made us feel your excitement, fear and everything in between. I look forward to reading your blog every morning so please keep it up! :)

  30. Tom says:

    A very good detail of what you went through to share with others. Spent 9 months on a carrier between work-ups and a deployment. It was actually one of the best experiences I ever had, and happy you got to also, even for only a day. Something many do not know, is working on a flight deck was considered within the Top 5 most dangerous jobs, now they just lump it in with military.

  31. DeViL says:

    I am visiting tomorrow, and catch up with what you missed.

  32. Ahmed says:

    nice language.

  33. Umami says:

    Mr. Jason Statham look alike going places!

  34. Abdulai Shani says:

    The supersonic takeoff of those marvelous jets will be memories forever. Congrats Mr. mark…… You are the Man. MVP.

  35. Eiman says:

    Dear friend, Glad you had fun actually I had fun reading your feedback
    To be honest you deserve it
    I adore your blog been reading everything you write for the last 8 years since
    I left Kuwait and went abroad
    I used to follow your posts silently but all of a sudden
    Decided to thank you for all your efforts for the past 11 years
    And also wish you a Happy 11 Anniversary
    Keep going you are best

  36. XYZ says:

    Good Stuff ! Lucky you !

  37. Anish says:

    Mark
    I adore your blog and this is my first comment. One of the best article I have read. The take off description gave me goosebumps and adrenaline rise. I could feel what you felt and I kept reading it on and on. Congratulations!!!


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