Less than 1% of the population in the world will understand what it’s like to live aboard a military vessel. Whether that is an aircraft carrier, a battleship, or maybe an amphibious assault ship, life on the “boat” (as it is affectionately known to the sailors) is quite a unique experience. I’ve personally lived a cumulative time of about two years aboard one of these, and things never seem to get any different. Aboard the ship, you’ll have a near monotonous lifestyle filled with stress, anger, disappointment, and a lot of strange events that just become a regular part of your day. You’ll learn to live with people who you’ll come to hate and others that you’ll tolerate. But, just exactly how is life aboard the naval ships? It’s honestly rather difficult to explain…
Life on the ship begins with reveille, where the announcement is made for everyone to wake up and start their day. While it is common knowledge that shifts are twelve hours they end up being more like sixteen or eighteen hours on a normal work day. To grab breakfast, you’ll normally be waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour in line as space is extremely limited (this will happen for almost every meal). Training is performed throughout the day, and you’ll often find that your time vanishes as meetings, lectures, spot-checks (in which your knowledge of maintenance is tested), and qualification exams are scheduled in the green sheet or plan of the day. Most sailors plan their day accordingly, but the workload never ends, in spite of putting forward a hard day worth of effort. It’s not all work and no play though, as the Navy has college professors who come onboard throughout deployment to teach on a variety of subjects such as college classes and basic language courses. Not every single day is the same though as twice a week or more sailors get to practice their contingency skills with a general quarters drill. GQ is the mode set by the Navy to go into alert mode, the drills simulate attacks, evacuation procedures and other unexpected circumstances that sailors could potentially deal with in the event of an emergency. These are long and annoying, but serve a greater purpose in ensuring the overall safety of the ship (you read that correctly, I said ship, not the sailors). Yet, somehow in spite of all of this, life isn’t all bad.
Sailors get time to work out throughout the day, different types of aerobics classes are provided by certified instructors, gyms are available throughout the ship. You’re typically encouraged to participate in these, that is, when you’re not being obligated to study for your next qualification. Sailors often bring different types of entertainment apparatuses like video game consoles, trading card games, movies/television shows, and laptops. Tournaments happen inside the ship ranging from sports games like Madden to strategy games like Pokémon, or more physical ones like a push-up contest. Five-kilometer runs are made on top of the flight deck during special days in an effort to raise awareness of different causes, holiday routine on Sundays are usually a day where work slows down and church services are provided. But, none of this tops a routine port visit to one of many exotic locations on Earth.
Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Europe, South America, and many other countries are some of the stops where U.S. naval ships can visit. For sailors, nothing is more amazing than a port call, which is where all of the rumours, and bad reputation that sailors get come from. While these days they’re a lot more regulated and strict in regard to what behaviors sailors can display in public, this doesn’t stop some of the rowdier ones. There isn’t a tougher bunch than a group of rag-tag drinking men with sailing problems after all! But, these don’t last very long and after a few days… it’s back to the same old routine. Back amongst the waves of the ocean, where all they can see for miles on end is water in every direction with the hopes of one day seeing land once again.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.