PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 9 and 10

Carrier home_grid_main_01

It’s always tough to say good bye to old friends and that was the theme for CARRIER tonight. Lots of good byes to the shipmates, friends, relationships, careers and even USS Nimitz herself.

I’ve spent 10 hours over the past 5 consecutive evenings so captivated by the show that I was afraid to step away for a moment out of concern of missing something. That’s really crazy since I Tivo’d the entire series.

While I’m not a veteran or military man or naval history enthusiast, I do enjoy a good story and PBS delivered more than 5,000 of them over the 10 hours of CARRIER. We got an intimate view of the lives of a handful of sailors and a broader view of many more. It’s certainly easier now to appreciate what life is like aboard a United States aircraft carrier; frankly it’s not all that different than life anywhere else. Or is it?

I have spent the last decade of my professional life observing life at sea and promoting the opportunities to experience it. In my younger days I had the great fortune to live it first hand and have written about it on number of occasions. (Here, here, here and The Tabor Boy Project). I passionately believe in what the sea can do to change lives and after watching CARRIER I am even more convinced that it ain’t necessarily the size of the boat. Put any number of people in a confined space in an alien environment and chances are they will figure out the need to work together and support each other. Of course, shooting high performance aircraft off a moving and abbreviated strip adds a whole other level of complexity. But in the end, life at sea is a unique and powerful personal development experience.

Thanks to the amazing, charming, intelligent, funny, dedicated and hardworking crew of the USS Nimitz for giving us this incredible opportunity to peek into their lives and get a better understanding of the challenges of life aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Also an even BIGGER THANKS to them for serving our country. Thanks to the filmakers who IMHO created something absolutely riveting. Thanks to PBS and all of the sponsors including the organization that I work for, Northeast Maritime Institute, for making this show possible.

I would typically never sit and watch so much television over the course of 5 days, but like many of the sailors leaving Nimitz after her deployment, I’m a bit melancholy wondering what I’m going to do tomorrow night.

Episode 9: “Get Home-itis”

A six-month absence places a heavy burden on relationships. The Navy holds seminars to counsel sailors on what to expect when they return home — and how to make the transition smooth. The “Tiger Cruise” ritual allows sailors to invite their family members aboard for the last leg of the deployment.

Episode 10: “Full Circle”

As the Nimitz makes its final transit from Hawaii to California, the sailors and Marines on board prepare to return to their homes and families. For those still on board, the “Tiger Cruise” provides a buffer, but there’s no such transition for those who fly home early from Hawaii. As the Nimitz returns to her home port of San Diego, sailors and Marines reflect on the deployment and take stock of what they’ve achieved. Was the mission accomplished? There are tearful, joyful reunions at the pier.

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Peter A. Mello

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

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