PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 5 and 6

Carrier home_grid_main_02

Tonight the tone was definitely much more serious. The gravity of the mission and the toll it takes on the men and women aboard comes through clearly. I have been really taken by the honesty and authenticity that CARRIER seems to present in telling the USS Nimitz’s many stories.

Questions about the connection between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Iraq are addressed directly to the camera. “Why am I here?” One sailor states he’s “a faithful and loyal servant with questions.” A pilot explains the conflict of having an opinion and doing his job. Many recognize that this is a different type of war than that for which the Navy was built. 4th generation and asymmetrical warfare causes one pilot to state “It seems like aircraft carriers are not the way to fight wars today.”

The sight of a decrepit oil platform makes all the effort and resources deployed seem more than a little overkill and the search for terrorists has that needle in the haystack feel. “It’s not as much fun when we don’t drop bombs but maybe just flying over deters the bad guys on the ground. Fighting the terrorists is neverending.”

Life on the Nimitz can be a blur where the days of the week have no importance. Everyday is like the next. A pilot states, “I wouldn’t mind dropping bombs may sound demonic but that’s what I was trained to do.” But no bombs are dropped through episode 6 and you can begin to see and hear the stresses this causes to warriors in a war zone. Adrenaline to sheer boredom makes it all so challenging. Some feel it’s just “my job” while many others seriously question mission validity. There seems to be more sailors longing for home.

There is a sobering man overboard story that reminds us that life at sea can be dangerous even in times of peace.

As usual, the cinematography and music were amazing.

Part 5 – Show of Force description

The mission really kicks off when the Nimitz arrives in the Gulf. The conditions are extreme: flight deck personnel endure temperatures hovering around 120 degrees, while the pilots undertake grueling six-hour missions over Iraq. The F-18s are mounted with infrared cameras, enabling them to serve as the “eyes in the sky” to support the troops on the ground. Some of the pilots are frustrated that they’re not dropping bombs because, as they describe it, that’s what they’ve been trained to do. The aircraft carrier’s role and effectiveness in this particular war are questioned. Meanwhile, the strike group searches for terrorists on small dhows and intercepts cargo ships to search for weapons and bomb-making materials.

Part 6 Ground Hog Day description

After two months in the Gulf, one day starts to become indistinguishable from the next. The airwing still hasn’t dropped a single bomb, which is frustrating for some on board. The only relief comes from a port call in Bahrain, where some sailors relax by the pool, while others visit a mosque and learn about Muslim culture. The Princeton, one of the escort ships in the Nimitz strike group, loses a man overboard; an intense search to find the lost sailor ensues.

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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

5 thoughts on “PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 5 and 6”

  1. Although it’s a wonderful job to do, being an airplane pilot is very stressful, i can hardly imagine how hard it must be to be a war aircraft pilot. There are so many risks on any flight during war that is understandable to question the mission’s validity, after all your life is the risked one. These men must have a really strong psychic to practice such a job.

  2. Amazing series!! I would love to get an update on the sailors and pilots that were featured in the series. A “where are they now” type update.

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