PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 3 and 4

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PBS’ CARRIER demonstrates that real life stories are more powerful and captivating than fiction. The series second night built on the great foundation set the first. There are 5,000 sailors, 5,000 jobs and 5,000 stories aboard “4.5 acres of sovereign US territory” that is the USS NImitz.

Episode 3 – Super Secrets

In episode 3, we learn about all of different jobs and activities that make the ship run; from trash removal to nuclear engineering each sailor has a responsibility and duty to contribute to the mission. Each also has the duty and responsibility to act like mature adults while on shore leave but unfortunately not all can. With only 800 women aboard the Nimitz, it’s easy to see how social tensions and sexual problems could arise. Dating is highly discouraged; however, there is a remarkable scene involving the reporting of sexual indiscretions between 2 sailors that teeters on the edge of rape and which damages the reputations and destroys the naval career of both.

On a lighter note, an entertaining story within a story has been developing about the young videographer Christian Garzone (MySpace and Youtube pages) whose shipboard hobby is making films. He seems to be a well liked young man with a great sense of humor and strong camera presence which at times steals the show.

Episode 3 description:

The ship’s location and itinerary are classified. Details of how the nuclear reactor works are top secret. Many aspects of life on a nuclear aircraft carrier are hush-hush. Dating and sex aboard ship are strictly forbidden, but according to one sailor, with 5,000 people on board, relationships are “inevitable,” resulting in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that applies to relationships as well as sexual orientation. When the Nimitz pulls into Hong Kong for a four-day port call, a scandal dramatically alters the lives of two sailors. As the ship departs, the crew learns their itinerary has changed. The captain announces that they are heading for Korea, but the crew can’t share this information with their families back home … because it’s a secret.

Episode 4 – Squared Away

Teamwork is absolutely essential for the ship to operate efficiently and effectively and there is an interesting discussion about rank and officers’ responsibility and accountability. One young woman talks about the challenge of rising faster than her peers but quickly acknowledges that’s she happier she’s being paid more.

Discipline is what is missing from the lives of so many enlisted sailors. Thankfully many find it aboard ship with the help of experienced sailors who play the role of mentors. Unfortunately, some don’t.

One young man angles to get out by playing the racist. One of the most amazing demonstrations of leadership thus far in the series takes place when an African American approaches him at the end of a drunken shore leave beach party and talks to him in a calm and collected fashion making a case for trying to learn from and accept different cultures. “One person can make a difference” he says and for a moment we think this might just work.

Episode 4 description:

Mentoring and camaraderie are what hold the ship together. But life on deployment is stressful for everyone aboard, and there can be considerable friction between enlisted personnel and their superiors. Port calls allow sailors to blow off steam, but they don’t relieve all the pressure. In Guam, a young sailor coming to terms with his upbringing can’t play by the rules and is forced out of the Navy. From Guam, the Nimitz sails through the Straits of Malacca, past Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, the last liberty call before the long haul to the Persian Gulf.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that so many of the young people that have ended on the Nimitz come from tough family backgrounds. Early on an officer remarks that not too many aboard are graduates of Phillips Exeter Academy, an elite New England prep school. The Navy is a melting pot and its amazing that such a diverse group of individuals can live in such a challenging environment with so few serious problems and actually make this sophisticated war machine hum.

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PBS’ CARRIER – Parts 1 and 2

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I just finished watching the first 2 parts of PBS’s new series CARRIER and it was awesome. Even if you have no interest in military or naval matters, this show is definitely worth watching. The cinematography and music are fantastic. The individual and collective stories are fascinating. Among other things, its a great study of leadership.

Episode 1 – All Hands was a great stage setter. In it you get to meet a wide range sailors aboard the USS Nimitz, one of only ten nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the world. There are more than 5,000 residents that call the ship home and work and a large number are under the age of 21. It’s not too far away from being a floating high school with a serious mission.

Episode 1 description:

On a bright May morning, 5,000 sailors and Marines bid farewell to their loved ones before the mammoth USS Nimitz pulls out of Coronado, California, and sets a course for Hawaii and beyond. Among the men and women who live and work on board are an airman who describes the ship as a small town; a pilot who considers the ship a powerful instrument of diplomacy; a sailor who questions “why we’re fighting to defend someone else’s freedom when we barely have our own”; a cook who dishes out 15,000 meals a day; and an airman who has just learned that his girlfriend is pregnant.

Episode 2 Controlled Chaos tells the story of the complexity of running this floating city that also happens to be the most sophisticated war machine. There is so much activity happening on the flight deck that one sailor advises to keep your head on a swivel to look out for trouble that can come from any direction at anytime. While New York might be the city that never sleeps, the Nimitz is clearly a ship that doesn’t either.

A pilot of one of the $57 million aircraft that get catapulted off the end of the ship says that landing is like having sex during a car accident. Work hard, play harder is the flight squadrons’ mantra. Much of the support for these Top Guns comes from young enlisted airmen who get paid less than what their friends make back home at McDonalds. When asked, the Captain isn’t sure how they are able to extract such a high level of performance but offers they do it for each other.

Episode 2 description:

The men and women of the USS Nimitz live beneath the runway of a major airport. They sleep on the roof of a nuclear power plant. It’s a perilous environment. Their only bulwark against danger and chaos is to bond with their units on board the ship. The “Shooters,” who launch the jets, have a “Circle of Trust”; the Ordies (ordnance personnel) pride themselves on being a “mafia”; the F-18 squadrons — the Black Aces, the Hoboes and the Marine Red Devils — are tight fraternities.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.

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At Sea Reality TV

Sunday VOW’s (Videos of the Week)

There’s currently no shortage of good maritime shows on television. Here’s three that float my boat.

Deadliest Catch

Last year I posted about the Deadliest Catch here and here. This year they have added regular behind the scenes video-casts (thru iTunes) that are pretty interesting. The website is also worth a visit. Hey, these guys put their lives on the line so that you can eat fancy seafood; the least you can do is watch! (Frequently on the Discovery Channel)

And you think your work environment is challenging.

America’s Port

Finally, a show the tells the story about why America’s maritime industries remain so important today. “America’s Port provides an unblinking view of this vibrant and colorful nerve center for global trade — the Port of Los Angeles. Get an inside look at this massive complex and the intrepid individuals charged with keeping it running smoothly and securely 365 days a year. It’s a dynamic and dangerous 24/7 operation.” (Mondays at 10PM on National Geographic Channel)


Update: check the latest post about Episodes I and II

The PBS series CARRIER: Life aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz starts tonight and if these clips are any indication, it looks great! Make sure that you visit the website as well and take a tour the ship and check out the great “making of” diaries and videos. (Starting Sundays, April 28th and running consecutive nights through May 1st; 9 – 11 PM on PBS; find your local listing here)

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iPod Shuffle Drawing Scheduled for Sunday, October 14th @ 7:30 pm on UStream.tv

The Sea-Fever iPod Shuffle contest closed on September 30th. If you registered and voted for one of my stories on gCaptain’s Discoverer news website by that date, you are eligible for the drawing for the iPod Shuffle which we will do from the Global HQ of Sea-Fever Consulting LLC tomorrow evening at 1930 (7:30 pm) EDT on UStream.tv. You can watch by clicking here or returning to this post where we have embedded the UStream player below.

The drawing will be conducted by 2 surprise special guests.

This is all an experiment so we appreciate you bearing with us.

Thanks for participating and good luck in the drawing!

CBS’s Kid Nation

Here’s a trailer for Kid Nation, a new reality TV show.

TV Week website has an interesting article about how CBS was able to put this show together. If the large number of comments to TV Week’s post are any indication, this show is sure to draw lots of attention. Maybe if it was labeled a documentary instead of reality TV it would be less of a lightning rod for controversy. It has some interesting potential; however, I’m cautious because reality TV has a tendency to unnecessarily trivialize things and manufacture drama. I’ll reserve my opinion until after I learn more and actually watch a few episodes.

Maybe its because I am a product of a youth sail training program which I entered as an adolescent at the age of 13 and left as a mature young adult at 17, but I’m not at all upset by having children participate in Kid Nation. Regarding work, sailing on a tall ship required long hours and hard work and it remains to this day one of the most powerful and empowering experiences of my life. These kids were in a controlled environment which was probably safer than the one which many returned to after filming was over. Certainly it was safer than that which the vast majority of America’s youth live in today.

It’s dangerous to underestimate what kids are capable of accomplishing and even more dangerous to overprotect them from unique and valuable experiences that will benefit them for a lifetime.

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Sea-Fever Cinema – July 2007 – Heavy Weather

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There is a new round of videos in Sea-Fever Cinema for July.

“Heavy Weather” is the theme and there is some incredible footage of Mother Nature having her way with large ships. In Heavy Sea watch closely for the flex in the hallways and imagine the wild rides in Straits Shipping, Voyager in Cyclone and Monster Wave. There’s also a clip from Deadliest Catch that you should think about next time you order crabs or seafood in a restaurant.

Grab some popcorn and enjoy being on terra firma as you watch this incredible footage.

Watch the video in the sidebar VodPod or Sea-Fever Cinema July 2007

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Help, I’ve Been Shanghaied by CBS’s Pirate Master

Embarrassingly, I am a reality TV junkie. Well, that may overstate things a bit since I am particular in my viewing habits. I love the Amazing Race and Deadliest Catch and enjoy the Apprentice. Once in a while I’ll watch Survivor, Big Brother and, shamefully, The Real World, too. Now, CBS has got me with their new show Pirate Master.

This is probably not too much of a surprise to people who regularly read the Sea-Fever blog or who know me personally. I do have a THING for what I call maritime culture. It all started back with childhood visits to the New Bedford Whaling Museum where there is a half scale model of a tall ship absolutely perfect for grade school adventures. A little later in life I had the good fortune to sail on the “pirate-like” tall ship Tabor Boy throughout my high school years and this experience is currently being chronicled over at The Tabor Boy Project. For the last 6 years, I have been the executive director of the American Sail Training Association which is an international nonprofit with 200 tall ships and sail training vessels from all over the world. The Barque Picton Castle, the ship used in the Pirate Master was one of the more visible vessels in the ASTA fleet. Today, through Sea-Changes Foundation and Sea-Fever Consulting LLC I create maritime experiential education and maritime cultural initiatives for youth of all ages.  Continue reading Help, I’ve Been Shanghaied by CBS’s Pirate Master

Pirates on the Media Horizon!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day may not be until September 19th; however, there are pirates on the media horizon.

On Friday May 26th the hugely popular Pirates of the Caribbean series lands with its 3rd installment, At World’s End.

A week later, more at sea reality TV will be launching on CBS with a new Mark Burnett series called Pirate Master.

Both of these shows have great websites to explore. Pirate Master has set up a wiki which will allow show fans and pirate enthusiasts to create their own content for the website. This will be fun to follow.

Several of the tall ships that star in these shows (Continental Sloop Providence, HMS Bounty and the Barque Picton Castle) will be participating in the American Sail Training Association’s TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE Series this summer on the Atlantic Coast of North America.

If the pirate’s life’s for you, there are plenty of opportunities to hop aboard and sail into the sunset.

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The making of the "Deadliest Catch" – Avid Podcasts

Check out this interesting interview with one of the executive producers of the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”  (click here for audio file download or webpage.)

From the Avid website:

Jeff Conroy takes us behind the scenes of the Discovery Channel’s reality show “the Deadliest Catch”.  Jeff shares the trials and tribulations of capturing the worlds most dangerous job, catching Alaskan King Crab in the Bering Sea, on tape and delivering one of the most engaging reality shows on television.

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At Sea Reality TV – “Deadliest Catch”

Anyone interested in modern maritime culture should check out Discovery Channel’s reality TV show “Deadliest Catch.” The 3rd season started this week. It has a loyal viewership and has developed into a cult hit. Tuesdays at 9 PM EDT and PDT (8 PM CDT). Like most cable channel shows, it repeats often over the weeks following each new episode.

To get flavor of what its about, check out the show’s website where you can watch select “webisodes” and read crew bios and the show’s production diary blog. There is a weekly poll where you can vote for your favorite boat and crew and a game (reported to be coming soon) where you will be able to see if you “have what it takes to skipper a crab boat on the Bering Sea.”

The show’s website also has very active and interesting message board where viewers discuss everything from professionalism and decision-making to who’s the hottest captain. It makes very interesting reading. Here’s a sample of a message that has 77 replies:

“I am slightly disappointed in the Discovery Channel for glorifying some of these “Captains” who by all professional standards are not setting a good example. The Discovery channel would do well to ask other professionals there opinion of some of the things that they are glorifying. Often, “joe blow boater” follows the example of professional Captains. I have seen a few series where my stomach cringed at the statements and decisions made by some of the “Captain’s”.

There are many things these Captains can do to make their occupation safer, there are many decisions these “Captains” can rethink to make sure their crew gets home safe.

Just an opinion from an old salt for what its worth. Many of us (licensed) Captain’s sit around and watch the series together and just shake our head. Not trying to be harsh or derogatory, Captains have a bad habit of just being truthful. We are just telling it like it is.

Capt. Phil – you are well liked and respected here even when your decisions are unpopular where you are.

Captain of the Rolo – all we can say is, well , you might want to go back to school. Not a good idea to go into it here, but hopefully you are aware of how bad you looked as a Captain.

This is all meant in the form of CONSTRUCTIVE critisism.”

On the lighter side, hyannisgirl wrote:

“I have to post this because I am addicted to this show and love to watch Captain Sig! I get all hot and bothered watching him…..Any other fans of Sig out there?”

While I enjoy watching the Amazing Race, The Apprentice and Survivor, these shows cast the characters and manufacture the “reality.” You might get Fired but you won’t die. On the other hand, Deadliest Catch is real Reality TV. The crew members (and production crew) put their lives at risk to make this show. These are real people doing real jobs with the added complication of having cameras recording their real life challenges.

It’s amazing television.  These guys risk their lives to feed (and entertain/educate) us. The least that we can do is watch!

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