PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 7 and 8

Carrier home_grid_main_04

You would be hardpressed to find more dramatic or suspenseful television than the Part 7 scene of landing planes on a pitching deck at night. It’s ironic that the most dangerous part of the mission is not fighting “terrorists” in Iraq but rather surviving mother nature on the way home. This is must see TV!

Up through part 7, a considerable amount of time is devoted to telling the story of the USS Nimitz as a well honed war machine with a diverse crew that successfully coexists under some challenging conditions and circumstances. Shared experiences like the pollywog/shellback ceremony creates camaraderie and common bonds among the crew. Then faith makes it way into the story in part 8 and a bright light shines on the rich diversity that is represented in the crew. This ship is an amazing floating community.

CARRIER does a great job of developing the story with each new episode having a solid foundation from what went ahead while still allowing room for surprises. IMHO this is the best reality TV by far!

Part 7 – Rites of Passage description

The last day in the Gulf is the last chance to drop bombs before the Nimitz heads home. The jets take off, laden with ordnance, and return hours later, still carrying the same bombs. As the Nimitz crosses the equator, the entire ship takes part in the Crossing the Line Ceremony, an ancient maritime ritual. In the middle of flight operations, a storm arises in the South Indian Ocean. The deck pitches violently, turning the already dangerous task of landing on the carrier into a nail-biting, heart-pounding drama.

Part 8 – True Believers description

This episode explores the many expressions of faith onboard the USS Nimitz: faith in self, faith in one’s shipmates, faith in the mission of the ship and the president’s call to arms. The major religious groups on board are Catholic and Protestant, but there also is a coven of Wiccans, as well as a Pentecostal group whose newest member is challenged by the duality of his beliefs and the temptations of liberty as the ship drops anchor in Perth, Australia.

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Peter A. Mello

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

12 thoughts on “PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 7 and 8”

  1. Roger has never spent time in the military, garaunteed. Just too many hours in the factory listening to Rush. This show WAS reality. For Roger to watch this and think that it was ALL anti-military is rediculous. The entire purpose of this series was to make the average citizen realize how tough it is being in the military and how amazing it is to see what these 18 year-old kids can accomplish. Would Roger rather see a series on 18 year olds vandalizing city streets? Roger, stop worrying that showing our military men and women as REAL people will soften America. It will not. As the other comments here have shown, it only makes us support our troops even more when we understand the real sacrifices they make for us.

  2. I am late to this party – but enjoyed the series so much that I bought the DvD. I too was riveted by the hour 7 sequence – I got the feeling (not said overtly but hinted by the CO of the Squadron) that these conditions were more dangerous than helpful in training and when you see the archival video of the F14 smacking the stern…

    I suppose (having only 200 hours in a Cessna years ago) the only way to catch the hook is to try and time the ship’s motions with the throttle but remember of hearing this “pilot’s tale” of a carrier pilot somewhere/sometime making 22 go arounds at night before making it – with knees knocking – I can better understand this now.

    And the flight deck operations – how dangerous they are – the DvD in the Special Features went into more detail and a Petty Officer is telling you just how dangerous – and how you have to be constantly alert on 130 degree days and 12 hour work times. He mentioned that the A6 is known as the “man eater” with intakes so strong they will suck you in – a Navy archival video shows some poor guy at night being sucked into the intakes like a vacuum cleaner-

    I thought it was a suburb production – showed all sides of viewpoints and from the lowest seaman handling garbage to the skipper – I can’t imagine the job on the cutting room floor to “get it down” to 10 hours!

  3. I found the series riveting. I know nothing about the military but found the stories and different points of view compelling. The young fathers-to-be stories especially gripping. [I wish them the best and would love updates]. Beautiful camera work. Kudos to the Navy for allowing this.

  4. Harry,
    I was single & also mostly liked deployments (although 3 1/2 months on station in the Gulf pretty much sucks for anyone). I joined the Navy to see the world & I did – we did an around the world cruise on the Ark.
    I was an EW so mostly 12 & 12, but in CIC & other air conditioned spaces too – not much of that part of the ship shown on the series, although they probably wouldn’t allow cameras in CIC anyway (although they did show the air traffic control center).
    Good luck to you.

  5. John,

    No, I left the Enterprise after the 82-83 Deployment. However, I returned to the Big E after a two year stint in DC. Deployed with CVW-11 (same CAG as in the series, however different squadrons) for the 86 and 88 cruises.

    Day to day operations were very tedious. Although we didn’t have it as bad as some of the crew in the series. We did work 12 on 12 off but we worked in air conditioned spaces (computer equipment), and not subject to the hot, dirty conditions like those found on the flight deck.

    Being single, I enjoyed deployment. Going to the different ports of call was a wonderful experience.


  6. James, Harry, Hana, Roger, Tony and John;

    Thank you all for visiting and more importantly commenting here. I always find it fascinating that people can watch the same show or read the same article yet come away with such different impressions.

    In general, I thought the film-makers presented a pretty balanced view but one that was most sympathetic (in a good way) to the average Nimitz sailor. Regardless if you are pro or anti war, it’s difficult to argue that these men and women aren’t making incredible personal sacrifices for their country. I’m tremendously appreciative of them (and the US Navy) for giving us a look into their lives to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be in the modern day military.

  7. I liked it because you got to meet just a few of the people who are not jet jockeys or captains, or admirals, a few of the people who day in and day out do the 1001, tedious, grinding, dirty, distinctly unglamorous jobs that keep a ship running.

    While Harry is right that many things have changed, telephones, e-mail, especially women on the ships, many more have not – the daily routine, watchstanding, cleaning & painting, anticipating liberty,l ooking up at the stars at night*. The people were very much the same as I remember – their hopes & dreams, their frustrations, the way they dealt with boredom & disciplne. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    Harry, were you on the Enterprise when it deployed in 1984? I was on the USS Arkansas, we deployed with ‘Battlegroup Foxtrot” but wound up going home another way.

    I also have to very mcuh disagree with Roger. I watched the whole series, and heard several interviewed people express strong, unequivocal support for the war and the Bush administration policy (the XO of one of the fighter squadrons comes particularly to mind).
    I also heard a LOT of the people interviewed speak VERY positively about the opportunities and experiences they had in the Navy.

    *Until you’ve seen the night sky from the middle of the South Pacific 1000 miles from any land or light pollution, you have absolutely no concept of how just many stars there are up there.

  8. I couldn’t disagree more with the post by roger. I thought that this was a fair and balanced look at life aboard a carrier and the brave saliors and marines that serve aboard it. I did two 6 month deployments in 96 and 98 (one with the Kitty Hawk, and another with the Carl Vinson)and watching this show was like reliving it all over again. Watching the flight ops I could remember the feel the jet exhaust and feel the prop wash blowing on me. I could feel the heat of the sun in the arabian gulf. And I laughed almost everytime I heard the sound of airplanes hitting the deck and the arresting gear buzzing resonating through the ship. These are things that I had long forgotten and are now somewhat bittersweet. Bravo for PBS and especially the Navy for showing this program. The Navy seemed obsessed with political correctness while I was in it, probably more so now than when I was in. It took a lot of courage by the brass to okay this program. I couldn’t be prouded to have served GO NAVY!!!
    And for you roger and those like you that so unwaveringly support the war and see any opposing opinion to it as liberal propaganda, get off the computer, get off of the sidelines and go put on a uniform and serve our great country and fight in this war that you support so much. It might give you some much needed perspective.

  9. PBS concluded “Carrier” by showing it’s truely liberal character and agenda for the “documentary”. Although somewhat obscure through the early segments, they made their anti-military points clear in the final showing last night.
    PBS Point #1: War in Iraq is immoral and unsupported, even by the military. They found one pilot that expressed this point clearly. Several other officers interviewed would only respect their authority. PBS could not find one person out of 5000 that actually supported Operation Iraqi Freedom — really?
    PBS Point #2 – Military service offers nothings. Everyone is tearfully homesick and misses their family. One Sailor is dis-honorably discharged. Another loses his girlfriend, and denounces the Navy. A Marine misses the birth of his child. The senior Navy pilot says their is no future in the Navy for him, and decides to retire.
    PBS Point #3 – The military is a huge, unnecessary expense to taxpayers. PBS constantly discussed the expense of operating the Nimitz during the deployment, then show several Sailors saying the deployment was a big waste of time.


  10. [I apologize if this is my second post, but I lost the comment page before finishing what I’d written]

    I have also found this to be an amazing and powerful series to watch. It was so well done in a number of ways. It is so rich with many interesting personal stories, engaging people, themes, and a great view of how the carrier works, how hard each person and team works, and how it all fits together. I was suprised at the amount of freedom there seemed to be for crew members to express opinions, even the discussions exploring controversial topics, such as personal views about being gay in teh military, and about the war itself.

    I loved the way they followed the friendships and I found most poignant the stories of the best-friend pairs of the featured younger male crew members, including Christian’s best friend who slipped away without the final goodbyes in Australia, as James Allen mentions in his comment (see above). That was indeed worrisome, and also made me feel sad for Christian. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen Hour 10, and while Hour 10 did’t answer all of the questions about this, it brought a little bit of closure and reassurance about him.

    I also agree with the blogger about Hour 7–I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It really was incredibly compelling!

    My sense, knowing where I myself am on the political spectrum, is that the program will be well recieved no matter what one’s politics or views on the war. I’ll be interested in following the reactions of people from different points on the spectrum.

  11. As a former carrier sailor aboard the USS Enterprise in the 80’s, I am thoroughly enjoying this series.
    Things aboard ship have changed since then. We didn’t have women aboard (except for the occasional USO show), and the crossing the line ceremony was more intense than it is today. I’m not sure that I like it toned down.
    I too am curious about the guy who disappeared in Perth. Hopefully will get an update in either ep 9 or 10 tonight.
    I really enjoy watching Christian Garzone. I expect to see a lot more of him in the future.

  12. I fully agree that this series is absolutely incredible. Watching this has resurfaced my regret of not joining the military when I was younger. This series has strengthened my respect for our military. By far one of the best series on TV in my memory.

    I do admit that I was concerned for the young guy who disappeared while on leave in Perth Australia. Any update what happened to him?

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