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Anchors Aweigh
April 27, 2008 11:47 AM   Subscribe

"Carrier is not the story of a ship, it’s the story of shipmates." The 10-part documentary series, filmed by 17 filmmakers, focuses on eighteen people during a six-month deployment overseas on the aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz. The series premieres tonight on PBS. Opening of Episode One [6:02] || Preview of The Series [26:47]. Crew interviews and other clips.

The USS Nimitz accomodates "about 6,000 persons...and reaches over 23 stories high from the keel to the top of the mast. The Hangar Bay extends for most of the ship’s length. It is used for major repair and shelters the aircraft not needed for that day's flight schedule. Four distilling units enable Nimitz engineers to make over 400,000 gallons of fresh water a day, for use by the propulsion plants, catapults and crew. The Food Services Department provides 18,000-20,000 meals a day. The Nimitz can stock at least 70 days of refrigerated and dry storage goods. One barber shop trims over 1,500 heads each week. The Post Office processes more than one million pounds of mail each year. Six doctors, including a general surgeon, provide everything from surgery to hydro-therapy. The ship also has five dentists. The Nimitz also features a 53-bed hospital ward, a three bed ICU, and acts as the hospital ship for the entire Nimitz battle group." *
posted by ericb (62 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
meanwhile, back on land, many people go with no health plans, no pensions, subsistence living, failing schools--but we can look at history and note that it was but a few years after our Civil War that we allowed low tariffs for sugar from Hawaii in exchange for our opening Pearl Harbor, so we could extend our reach into the Pacific.
Ship ahoy, sailor boy, don't forget your dinghy
posted by Postroad at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2008


Related: the This American Life episode (the one they play over and over and over on KUOW) about life on a carrier.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2008


Great use of the Killers.
posted by docpops at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2008


Fuck yeah dudes, now if only world war two would start again, we might actually get use our navy.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:43 PM on April 27, 2008


hey Postroad, the only thing keeping our oil flowing from wherever the hell it comes from and the Taiwanese from being forced to speak Chinese is that carrier, or more specifically CVW-11, since the carrier itself isn't really good for much besides ramming somebody, I guess. . .
posted by tachikaze at 12:46 PM on April 27, 2008


Eventually the Navy will morph into the United Federation Star Fleet, and then you'll all be sorry for being so negative.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:49 PM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Astro Zombie: when I heard a clip from this show on the radio yesterday, one of the guys was saying "This is the XO..." Is it so wrong that I thought of Battlestar Galactica? (Answer: yes. It is.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:52 PM on April 27, 2008


Hey, thanks for the reminder. It looks like a fascinating series.

"This is the XO..." Is it so wrong that I thought of Battlestar Galactica?

Frak no!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:01 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am a gay man. I am a tree-hugger. I am a Navy veteran.

Not to name any names, but two comments in this thread already show that some people have no idea what they're talking (or venting) about.

I say that I'm a gay tree-hugger because some people equate a certain social outlook in those stereotypes to something that would be diametrically opposed to the US Military. Not so! I've said it a million times, but the military is just the force behind the politics - so don't hate on the Navy, hate your elected officials that command it. Nothing's perfect, but it is a force of men and women who work hard and are proud to serve their country.

Also - recent polls show that most people's concerns these days are the economy and the price of gas. The wars (yes, that's plural) in Afghanistan and Iraq don't even register on most people's radar. Don't think for a second the Navy doesn't participate in these campaigns on a daily basis, much less in some other activities that you just don't hear about - not because they're classified but because they don't make front-page news.
posted by matty at 1:04 PM on April 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


Although I built models of Hornets when I was a kid growing up in Canada, whenever I see the image of an F-18 these days all I can think about is the incredible amount of technology that is being used to blow up a bunch of mud huts in Al Sadr City...when the bombs actually reach their intended targets. Carrier-borne F-18s are probably the prime culprit in the number of Iraqi deaths since the American invasion and occupation in 2003.(pdf)
posted by KokuRyu at 1:05 PM on April 27, 2008


We do use our Navy, every day. Ever since Jimmy Carter, testing the boundaries of international waters has remained one of the three primary missions of the US Navy. Even friendly nations like Canada sometimes claim more nautical territory than they should by international law, much less some more belegerant nations. I know the US hasn't ratified part IX, but we do do important work in moving ships around. Additionally, the Navy does combat pirates and slavers, a consistent problem around Africa and Indonesia.

But that's not the main reason to have it. Just because something isn't being used in a flashy way, doesn't mean that its useless. A fire department is useful even when there isn't a fire as it does its job of deterring and training during down time. Likewise navies and conflicts. And this takes out the fact that navies launch planes, fire missiles, transport marines, transport supplies, run hospitals, relay communications, and do all sorts of stuff even I don't know. A lot of the time, the Navy is what foreign people most associate with the United States, so theres the goodwill mission too. Now you can say we don't always live up to our best intentions, but the Navy is continually useful to national interests.

Er, what matty said.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:08 PM on April 27, 2008


the only thing keeping our oil flowing from wherever the hell it comes from...

continues to be our demand for it. A carrier group can't be thanked for that.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:09 PM on April 27, 2008


I do not hate our military, to clear up a point, but have in fact served at two different times in the army....yes: keep the oil flowing. How many bases world-wide do we have? Can you name the country in Africa where we have just opened a huge new military base? We began our expansionist ambitions long before we used oil as a major source of energy, and we will continue to do so. What I do find a bit odd is the way so many of our leaders express grave conceerns that China is developing its military, as though only we have the right to do so. I expect that we will once again end up with two major areas confronting each other: China and the US, whereas it used to be Russia and the US. I hope that ilthis is the case, the economic need each nation has from the other will make competition that avoids war, since it would slow Chinese growth and prevent so much lead being sent us in the goodies coming from China.
posted by Postroad at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2008


You know who else developed his military? Hitler.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:32 PM on April 27, 2008


The wars (yes, that's plural) in Afghanistan and Iraq don't even register on most people's radar.

vs.

"When it comes to the War in Iraq, the Democrats hold a modest advantage over the Republicans. The War is a Very Important issue for 60% of Americans".[1].

Look, I love carriers. I'm working on a Carrier Command II sim when I'm not farting around on the internets. I bought a battered copy of 1942 Jane's Fighting Ships off of ebay and that sits right on my father's wartime CVA-63 Cruise Book.

Thing is, in this era of UAVs sending 6000 people in a 23-story high piece of nuclear-propelled metal to support ~4 squadrons of Super Hornets and associated sea control craft is quickly becoming a colossal waste of capital, ie. dinosaurs to join the battle wagons that were obsoleted with the development of the carrier-capable attack aircraft.

The ROI on the tax revenue and government borrowings that our DOD is spending is . . . unimpressive. Sorry.
posted by tachikaze at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, since the Nimitz is nuclear powered it's a low carbon form of defence!

OK, until a plane starts its engine.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:53 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Stonestock Relentless: "Fuck yeah dudes, now if only world war two would start again, we might actually get use our navy."

Don't worry, it's coming. It may even be closer than you think because the World is rearming.
posted by McSly at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2008


nothing says "i can squash you like a bug" the a carrier group
posted by clavdivs at 2:36 PM on April 27, 2008


There is also a story this weekend reporting that the Navy is planning to rebuild the 4th Fleet (covering the Caribbean and Central & South America) coincidentally occurring as several South American nations boost their military spending.
posted by djeo at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2008


Thanks for that link, McSly.
posted by homunculus at 2:59 PM on April 27, 2008


Thing is, in this era of UAVs sending 6000 people in a 23-story high piece of nuclear-propelled metal to support ~4 squadrons of Super Hornets and associated sea control craft is quickly becoming a colossal waste of capital, ie. dinosaurs to join the battle wagons that were obsoleted with the development of the carrier-capable attack aircraft.

I hear what you're saying, but we're not there yet, in terms of UAV performance. Not even close. Sure, we can load a few Hellfires onto a Predator and make that work on a small scale, but that's not going to put the carriers out of business anytime soon, even if we magically erased the fighter-jock-centric bureaucracy out of the Navy. UAVs have no air-to-air capability, no UAV is supersonic, and no UAV can refuel in mid-flight, which means they're tied to land bases. Meanwhile, a carrier battle group is a near-complete self-contained fighting unit that can always pick up and move wherever it needs to go. And something like 80 percent of the planet is in range of carrier aircraft.

First person to say carriers are obsolete because of land-based missiles and aircraft needs a lesson in the terms "battle group" and "Aegis destroyer."

The first step is to field UAV bombers that fly from carriers ... and the U.S. is likely 30 years out from that reality.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:55 PM on April 27, 2008


My niece served on the Nimitz for 7 years, left just before their last Persian Gulf deployment. I watched the video about the making of the series on the PBS site. Looks really fascinating, finding out what her life was really like on board ship. Thanks.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:05 PM on April 27, 2008


and no UAV can refuel in mid-flight, which means they're tied to land bases.

Not for much longer, there have been multiple tests involving automated refuelling of UAVs, including complete hands-off approach, contact, refuel and breakaway by an automatic system on an F-18.

I think I saw a report last year that Israel had successfully completed a UAV-to-UAV AAR test but I can't find anything about it now, so I might be talking out of my arse about that.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 4:19 PM on April 27, 2008


Cool Papa Bell: "First person to say carriers are obsolete because of land-based missiles and aircraft needs a lesson in the terms "battle group" and "Aegis destroyer.""

Ok, I'll take a stab at that. In the past few years, China have been increasing military spending by 20% a year. The spending is specifically directed at upgrading and deploying more nuclear submarines. Thus going around the main US Battle group strength, Air power, and use the relative weakness of their current anti-submarine defense.

Sometimes, the submarines even show up unannounced.
posted by McSly at 4:40 PM on April 27, 2008


Even friendly nations like Canada sometimes claim more nautical territory than they should by international law american interests

Fixed that for you. Whether countries like Canada have sovereignty over territory such as the North-West passage (worthy of its own FPP) should be matters of international tribunal, not US enforcement. The political pressure exerted by these floating war machines give many of us the heeby-jeebees. The discrepancy between the scale of the spending, and the scale of the threat is both confounding and frightening

That said, I agree with what Matty said. The foc'sle video showing a bunch of 30-something professionals making light fun of eachother and humbly accepting performance awards reinforced my experiences with the military - that it consists of hard-working, dedicated public servants. If you don't like what they're doing (and I don't) blame the public that they serve.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:46 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


hey Postroad, the only thing keeping our oil flowing from wherever the hell it comes from and the Taiwanese from being forced to speak Chinese is that carrier[...]

tachikaze you're being funny, right? Cuz the Taiwanese speak a dialect of Chinese. It's a sort of Mandarin.

I get your point, I'm just being an insufferable pedant.
posted by illiad at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2008


Even friendly nations like Canada sometimes claim more nautical territory than they should by international law

[rolls eyes]

Pot. Kettle. Black. And not just a dull black, but that deep, sooty black that looks like if you try to touch it, your hand would just disappear into it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on April 27, 2008


Fine, so we're all (as far as nations go) bad as far as claiming sea rights we shouldn't. I suppose then that the Navy is just a instrument of national versus international will. Not that that's wrong.

At least Mongolia doesn't have to worry about this stuff anymore.

Good vid by the way.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:50 PM on April 27, 2008


I'm watching the show now. Alternately boring and wild. Most eye opening part was of a tired looking sailor complaining about the noise 'cause they're landing jets a floor or two above her. Heh.

Interesting how many of the sailors recognize their role in the process of delivering death to someone and yet most said it wasn't their decision, they were just doing their job, while some other person made those sort of decisions. I'm not knocking their take on it, but the consistent refrain of "I'm just doing my job" was interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whiny, knee-jerk politics aside for a moment, I caught the last 20 minutes of this and it was fascinating.
posted by mecran01 at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2008


It'd be sweet to see the US military being put to more use as an international peace-keeping force than as a war force.

My greatest pride in the Canadian military is that it is helps other countries settle toward a working peace that can permit the nation and its people to move forward. I wish we would put a lot more money toward that purpose. We can play a role in making the world an overall better place.

The US military even on a third of its current budget would be an immensely powerful tool for peacekeeping. American citizens would do well to re-organize the use of their tax dollars: put more into education and health, more into international cooperation, and less into offensive warfare.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:17 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


First person to say carriers are obsolete because of land-based missiles and aircraft needs a lesson in the terms "battle group" and "Aegis destroyer."

I'll see your battle group and raise you swarm tactics. Plus I remain unconvinced that an Aegis could fully defend against a massive missile attack from an advanced nation. You only need one good hit to sink a ship. I'm with the ward nerd when he says that kamikaze attacks in WWII signaled the futility of carriers, too much money to make and too easy to sink. Against a modern technologically advanced enemy, I'm not betting on the carriers.

There are only two current practical uses by the U.S. for carriers. One in the straits of Taiwan, and this is only because it is politically impossible to base ships on the island itself. The other is bombing people in far away places, whose most advanced weaponry is a machine gun mounted on the back of a cheap Toyota pick up. Which probably explains why the U.S. still has so many damn carriers.
posted by afu at 9:18 PM on April 27, 2008


My greatest pride in the Canadian military is that it is helps other countries settle toward a working peace that can permit the nation and its people to move forward.

- Korean war
- Cyprus
- Israel (Golan Heights)
- Somalia
- Haiti
- Yugoslavia
- Iraq (1991)
- Afghanistan
- Persian Gulf (in support of the US Operation Enduring Freedom)

Hmmmm.....don't see a lot of working peace here. Also don't see many deployments without the US. Canada's long on talk about peacekeeping and short on action, at least since the 1960's. In fact, Harper's commitment to Afghanistan is the most significant "nation-building" effort on the part of Canada in decades, and the majority of Canadians want out. In 2006, Canada was 51st on the list of contributors to UN peacekeeping operations (a joke anyways, but still) - 130 of the 70,000 active UN peacekeepers were Canadian. Trash the Imperialist US if you must, but don't fool yourself into believing grade-school propaganda about the kind-hearted and fair Canadian soldier - he hasn't existed as a matter of public policy for a long long time.
posted by loquax at 9:32 PM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I caught the first 20 minutes of this and it was just sad.
posted by homunculus at 9:39 PM on April 27, 2008


Also don't see many deployments without the US. Canada's long on talk about peacekeeping and short on action, at least since the 1960's.

Fair enough. We're essentially coasting on the success of Lester B. Pearson's foreign policy and have done so for a long time. However, Canada was one of the only countries that advocated an actual Rwandan peacekeeping mission, and we were snubbed or betrayed by the Security Council.

130 of the 70,000 active UN peacekeepers were Canadian.

Fair enough, but many developing countries participate in UN peacekeeping to gain cold, hard cash. Our military isn't big enough so that we can contribute more than a handful of troops.

Trash the Imperialist US if you must, but don't fool yourself into believing grade-school propaganda about the kind-hearted and fair Canadian soldier - he hasn't existed as a matter of public policy for a long long time.


Excellent point. However, I'd like to point out that our involvement in Afghanistan is *legal*, in that it has a UN/NATO mandate.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:47 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Russian carrier footage.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:49 PM on April 27, 2008


I rather liked this show. The carrier itself is a fascinating place, and they managed to get a pretty eclectic bunch of sailors & airmen to interview. I'm looking forward to the rest of the episodes. The music is sort of bad, though. I wish they'd gone with something instrumental rather than so much pop/rap... the latter is likely to date the program pretty badly.

As for many of the comments here, looks like some things never change.
posted by vorfeed at 10:09 PM on April 27, 2008


the Taiwanese speak a dialect of Chinese. It's a sort of Mandarin.

The details are complicated. Mandarin is widely spoken in Taiwan; so is Taiwanese, which isn't a sort of Mandarin -- they're different enough that two people knowing one each couldn't talk (but could communicate in writing, which is pretty cool.) (Well, unless the Mandarin speaker only knew the new PRC simplified characters.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:25 PM on April 27, 2008


since the carrier itself isn't really good for much besides ramming somebody, I guess. . .

Well, it's a really, really big platform, so it makes a really good launch pad for golf balls and F/A-18s.

Which aren't nearly as cool, cost effective, or destructive as Tomahawk Cruise Missiles launched from a small sub group. But hey, if you're looking to employ shitloads of support personnel, it's definitely the way to go. Big ships need big crews.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:58 PM on April 27, 2008


Which aren't nearly as cool, cost effective, or destructive as Tomahawk Cruise Missiles launched from a small sub group. But hey, if you're looking to employ shitloads of support personnel, it's definitely the way to go. Big ships need big crews.

Well, and Tomahawk's can't supply close air support.
posted by Snyder at 11:30 PM on April 27, 2008


I watched a few minutes of it. It's kind of depressing to note that in any given three minutes they probably burned through all the tax money I'll pay in my lifetime just showing off for the cameras.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:02 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having been stationed on a carrier for five years, I'll say that they didn't do anything for the cameras that they didn't do 'most every day anyway. They really do fly every day. They really do shoot guns into the water for training. They burn ass-tons of jet fuel.

That TAL episode cracked me up at the point where they picked the wrong guy to interview (and the PAO let them.) They actually used to tell us in Reactor Department when we had journalists on board not to speak to them. The command chooses who gets to be interviewed, and they weren't letting any of those smart-ass nukes anywhere near a tape recorder.
posted by ctmf at 12:37 AM on April 28, 2008


Plus I remain unconvinced that an Aegis could fully defend against a massive missile attack from an advanced nation.

Not one, no. But a typical battle group will have eight or more ships, not counting the carrier itself, with AAW and anti-missile capabilities.

It's hard to grasp the enormous size of the U.S. Navy. It has more aircraft carrier deck space* than the rest of the world combined, and two brand-new carriers that are just starting their 30-year lifespans.

including amphibious assault ships here, which can sport Marine V/STOL Harriers for ground attack roles
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:50 AM on April 28, 2008


My brother served on the Big E. Unfortunately for him, the XO knew his name ;) and he spent some time in the brig -- not for fighting or property crime, both of which are somewhat omnipresent nuisances, but for going AWOL over a family crisis (at one point they were on the SF news as a Navy family that needed housing). Anyway, for various reasons he never arranged for a TIGER cruise for me and my dad, so we never got to see what shipboard life was like.

Strategically, I think the carrier's day has not disappeared, particularly because of the decline in nations friendly enough to host our bases. Heck, even our "special relationship" pals in the UK are skittish about our continued use of Diego Garcia. There is also a decline in the strength of individual opposing navies, although in aggregate they may pose a broad threat. I also don't think that the "one hit" theory is as worrisome, because if that were really so we would have seen more USS Cole incidents over the last few years.

The bigger problem is things like the British naval crew that were held by the Iranians. The general idea is that the sheer overwhelming retaliatory force we hold prevents such incidents from even being considered, and in fact that's partly why those sailors were caught unawares and didn't even seem to have been properly trained for capture. (The Iranians seemed to have put the fear of God into them, but isn't that a job for your CPO?) In other words, the kind of pin that makes all your overwhelming force useless. Asymmetric warfare strategies.

Anyway. Yeah, it's one damned expensive way to maintain the peace.
posted by dhartung at 12:57 AM on April 28, 2008


Pepsi... I mean Navy... Blue?

I'm pretty sure that stuff like this is right on the border of what should be considered spam.

Even though the show may be compelling eventually, showing me shows before they even premiere feels an awful lot like advertising. For a show.

Thoughts?
posted by phylum sinter at 6:13 AM on April 28, 2008


I caught the first 20 minutes of this and it was just sad.

I agree completely. I was really excited to watch this, but the way the doc was put together just pushed me away. Too many music video segments where we got quick cuts of some action to contextless quotes while ass music blares away. I wanted to learn about life on the Nimitz, not rock out.

That said, the Nimitz has long been my favorite ship in the USN, because:
- it figured prominently in The Final Countdown, which totally blew my mind as a kid and
-it's named after an actual honest-to-god naval personage, not a fucking political appointee or president.
posted by COBRA! at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2008


phylum sinter: "Even though the show may be compelling eventually, showing me shows before they even premiere feels an awful lot like advertising. For a show."

I don't mind. I watched this show, and a few months ago Ice Truckers, both of which I enjoyed and both of which I first heard of here. It would've been nice to have different links than just to the show, to give it some context, though.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:48 AM on April 28, 2008


I watched the first episode last night. I came verrrry close to signing up as a nuclear reactor guy in college (had my trip to California scheduled with the recruiter and everything). Here's my thoughts, in no particular order -

1) I agree about the bad music choices. I think they will delve more deeply into different aspects of ship life in coming episodes, though - it's a lengthy series, this was more of a broad overview. Maybe this will come up too, but I thought it was odd that no mention is made of the other ships in the battle group (I assume that there are at all times, but I have no idea, I guess).

2) As a BSG fan, seeing all the stuff which BSG is clearly based on was great - the CO, XO (hell, the XO even sounds a little like Tigh when he yells), the CB radio-like communication system, the ready rooms, call signs, etc., etc., etc.

3) A lot of people trying to distance themselves from the sharp end of the stick. ("I'm not the one pushing the button, I'm not the one that makes the decision to pull the trigger, etc, etc.)

4) Along the same lines, a lot of "yeah, I don't know about what we're doing". The woman in flight control who said something along the lines of, I don't know what we're doing out here "giving freedom" to other people when we barely have our own. Could have been the people that they focused on, but the only guy that made me wince was the "let's go kill some terrorists, let's go pound the snot out of 'em, let's shoot machine guns into the wake off the back of the ship"). And I think that was all the same guy. Maybe there's a lot more of that mentality around, and they just didn't choose to focus on them.

5) They kill people (inefficiently), produce greenhouse gases and cost a lot of money, but all my internal thought police cannot stop my id from thinking, "Fighter jets are wicked awesome."
posted by rhys at 9:08 AM on April 28, 2008


You can read a little about Ron Moore's interest in the Navy here (scroll to the end of page 1, pausing to admire the photo of Richard Hatch dressed as the model from the cover of Matthew Sweet's album Girlfriend). There's more here (search for "air wing" to find the section).
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2008


(Yes, I'm hijacking this into a thread and trying to turn it into a discussion about BSG and the Navy. Arrrr.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2008


BTW -- full episodes of the program launch online later today.
posted by ericb at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2008


loquax, Canada has served more peacekeeping missions than any other nation. We've had more than a hundred twenty thousand troops serve in over seventy peacekeeping missions. The fact is that Canada sends more troops, per capita, than any other nation.

The UN is not the only organization we serve. The EU, AU, and NATO also do peacekeeping; there are a handful of other orgs as well.

It is true that our military is being destroyed by stupid government decisions and that we've fewer troops involved in peacekeeping these days. This is contrary to the public's desire to have a better-funded military that is more involved in providing peace support.

As for Afghanistan, all would be unicorns and rainbows if the USA would come back and support cleaning-up the mess they started. As-is, without proper multi-national support, there's not a hope of achieving anything resembling peace, which is why the majority of Canadians are resigned to bringing our troops back.

BTW, your count of 130 Canadian peacekeeping troops doesn't include the 2500 or so forces we've got in Afghanistan, nor the ones serving the other non-UN organizations.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2008


-it's named after an actual honest-to-god naval personage, not a fucking political appointee or president.

How about the USS George H. W. Bush, named after an honest-to-god naval personage, a fucking political appointee and a president. It's the ship that hits the trifecta!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:53 PM on April 28, 2008


Close, but no cigar. It's a little-known fact that Bush 1 was celibate while he was DCI and Ambassador, so he was, alas, not a fucking political appointee.
posted by COBRA! at 4:49 AM on April 29, 2008


Canada has served more peacekeeping missions than any other nation. We've had more than a hundred twenty thousand troops serve in over seventy peacekeeping missions. The fact is that Canada sends more troops, per capita, than any other nation.

This is most definitely not a fact. And 70 "operations" is meaningless. Sending two doctors to ride around in a jeep somewhere is an "operation". Look it up. The Canadian Forces website doesn't even have pages for some of these things. If you want to call 11 Canadians serving under British command in Sierra Leone, or 2 officers as part of a UN navel gazing exercise in Sudan an "operation", be my guest. I'll call it lip service to ideals we claim to hold near and dear.

The UN is not the only organization we serve. The EU, AU, and NATO also do peacekeeping; there are a handful of other orgs as well.

Well, we don't participate in any meaningful way in UN peacekeeping anymore, and UN peacekeeping is worthy of a hearty laugh, but I would love to hear more about what peacekeeping Canada has done under the auspices of the EU and the AU (I presume that's the African Union?). What other organizations does the Canadian military participate in armed operations with?

NATO does, in fact, claim to keep peace. In Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia most notably, although in both cases it was only after a NATO war, unilateral regime change, and the imposition of new law. Both were also initiated, led and dominated by the United States. Any credit to Canada goes double for the US if you're praising NATO military operations since the end of the cold war.


As for Afghanistan, all would be unicorns and rainbows if the USA would come back and support cleaning-up the mess they started. As-is, without proper multi-national support, there's not a hope of achieving anything resembling peace, which is why the majority of Canadians are resigned to bringing our troops back.


Come back? Where did they go? There are almost 30,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan, of a total NATO and allied deployment of 60,000. At the least the Americans (and Canadians) are actually fighting, try getting the Germans or French to actually get involved. If you want someone to pick up the slack there, ask Europe to honor their promises and NATO alliance obligations - the US doesn't have any problems in that regard.


It is true that our military is being destroyed by stupid government decisions and that we've fewer troops involved in peacekeeping these days. This is contrary to the public's desire to have a better-funded military that is more involved in providing peace support.


It's not being destroyed, it is destroyed in the sense that it is a relevant force on the world stage and is capable of deploying itself in any capacity. What we have is a very good Northern search and rescue team, and excellent soldiers that need help from the US or anyone to get to where they're going, and get around once they're there. It was destroyed a long time ago, under Trudeau and friends. He had better things to spend the money on and the people loved him for it. Nobody cares, is my bet, as long as we get to keep believing that we're doing good, which clearly we do, despite the facts.

BTW, your count of 130 Canadian peacekeeping troops doesn't include the 2500 or so forces we've got in Afghanistan, nor the ones serving the other non-UN organizations.

Again, I'd love to hear about Canadian peacekeeping under non-UN organizations, and I give full credit to Canada participating in the ongoing war (not peacekeeping) against the Taliban and Afghan warlords under the command of an American 4-star general, and fighting with 27,000 US troops in Afghanistan as part of a multi-year mission established by Stephen Harper and the current conservative government, a mission contested by the opposition and opposed by the majority of Canadians. I'm all for it. It's the first useful thing that Canada has done with the military in decades, maybe since the Korean War. Not sure that this makes the point that Canada has done anything for world peace, or allowing countries to grow and prosper over the last 50 odd years, or that Canada operates according to a different set of principles than the US. Certainly no more than, say, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, and so on. What successive Canadian governments have done, however, is make us believe that we're heros, know 'round the world by the flag on our backpack, so we feel good about ourselves (as opposed to the evil yanks) and we can continue to cut military spending and participate less and less.
posted by loquax at 8:08 AM on April 29, 2008


It'd be sweet to see the US military being put to more use as an international peace-keeping force than as a war force.

A little late to the discussion, but....

Waves of Hope: The U.S. Navy's Response to the Tsunami in Northern Indonesia. (pdf)

A Sampling of U.S. Naval Humanitarian Operations

U.S. Navy Deploys More Helos, Personnel to Help Earthquake Victims in Pakistan

US Navy joins disaster-relief effort in wake of Hurricane Katrina
posted by stargell at 7:02 PM on April 29, 2008


has anyone been watching this? its cracking me up that the one pilot looks like a cross between phil collins and robin williams, and the guy whos in charge of the ordinance looks like the guy from the state who also plays the commander on reno 911. he even has the same accent as the reno 911 character :) and of course the pilot with the callsign "bull" really looks like the guy from night court.

it is truly scary how "red state" most of the more senior people on the boat are. they really think that iraq and 9/11 are related. i feel bad for the pilot who dares to think otherwise.
posted by joeblough at 7:38 AM on April 30, 2008


U.S. Prepares ‘New Options’ To Attack Iran, Deploys Second Carrier To Persian Gulf
posted by homunculus at 11:08 AM on April 30, 2008


Yeah, I've been watching this all week, and looking forward to the final episode. Interesting stuff. That pilot you mention, joeblough, dosen't seem all to unhappy. I don't know why you feel so bad for him.

I'm glad that idiot racist is gone though, that guy was a fucking moron. I was a little surprised that got rid of him so easily, in my girlfriends experience, the military doesn't usally let go so easy, especially if you're so eager like he was to get out, because they don't want people gaming the system, (often, they'll have you finish up your deployment, then punish you,) but I'm glad he was out of there, becuase he seemed hell bent on throwing away opportunities and saying, "Hurf Durf, shouldn't have joined the Navy." He had shipmates trying to help him out, get him on the right track, as well as the chance to get something out of the Navy, but he threw it all away by just taking the path of least resistence. He's way to sanguine about an other-than-honrable discharge, too, the Captain wasn't just BSing on how that can effect your life. Oh well, as I said, he was an idiot.
posted by Snyder at 4:56 PM on May 1, 2008


Yeah, I've been watching this all week, and looking forward to the final episode. Interesting stuff. That pilot you mention, joeblough, dosen't seem all to unhappy. I don't know why you feel so bad for him.

Yeah, one of the things that really surprised me was how accepting people were, and how many different opinions there were. I mean, the girl who worked on the bridge was basically like "well, 9/11, I guess, but I don't think we're really here for any reason at all, I don't see why we're protecting someone else's freedoms while we barely have any of our own", someone was talking openly (if carefully obliquely) about being gay while he knew he was being filmed (there's a neat interview with that guy here), etc. The series was a lot less filtered than I'd expected.

I think my favorite part was the guy who liked making movies and his best friend who got to go home early (they were "not light in the loafers or anything, no way! ...um, are people talking?") At the end, when everyone is getting off the ship and being greeted by their families and SOs and such, there he was waiting for his friend! That made me smile. I think the friendships (between the CO and XO in the Black Aces, between the two roommates in the Ordinance group, the Marine and airman who liked to salsa dance, etc) are what I'll remember most from this series. Great stuff.
posted by vorfeed at 11:33 PM on May 1, 2008


Chinese nuclear submarines prompt 'new Cold War' warning
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on May 2, 2008


Chinese submarines cause of concern to India: Navy Chief
posted by homunculus at 9:46 AM on May 5, 2008


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