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The Most Spectacular Sights From The USS Wasp As It Sailed To Fleet Week

USS Wasp

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

The trip from Norfolk to New York City aboard the USS Wasp was something you have to see to believe, so it’s a good thing I took a lot of pictures.From Sunday night to Wednesday afternoon a small group of visitors were given free reign to wander the ship and talk to the sailors and Marines aboard.

I went from the engine room to the bridge talking to people and seeing what I could find. This set of photos are more or less what I saw from on the flight deck alone.

The flight deck is where the aircraft come and go, and the ground crew choreograph an elaborate ritual of time tested maneuvers.

It was quite a sight, and these photos would not have been possible without some serious help, and mighty patience, from the crew.

I will follow this up with a day in the life of a sailor and a tour of ship life from stem to stern. 

My first day aboard the Wasp I did not have the cranial unit with hearing protection or the float vest required to be on the actual flight deck

So while I went deep into the ship, I also spent some time up here where it was pretty quiet

Even then, with a bit of patience, there were things to see

But on my second day I found the gear I needed to get right on the flight deck where the aircraft come and go

The cranial unit is the helmet, goggles, and ear protection — the float vest inflates and sends a distress signal once it gets wet — once I had this stuff on all I had to do was stay out of the way

And wait on the weather to clear so these choppers could lift off and fetch the press from NYC that did not want to ride up from Norfolk

So while we moved through the fog banks I asked to come aboard the choppers

The crew were cool and didn't mind the flash popping off behind them too much

The floors were coated with a layer of grease that made it difficult to walk

The V-22 Osprey wasn't going anywhere, but I made my way up and asked to look inside while waiting for clear skies

And after a bit of a struggle getting the hatch open Sgt. Whatley invited me aboard

The Osprey has had its share of problems, but Whatley had been the mechanic on this bird for years and all he said was the transition from vertical to horizontal flight was something he couldn't even describe

The large cargo door was open at the rear and proved far less slick than the Sea Stallion's

Next to the Osprey these emergency firefighters huddled down against the wind and damp

The guys next to the attack helicopter were also waiting out the weather like everyone else

And they let me climb in the front

And the back of the chopper — that heads up display shows the most vital readings from the gauges below so the pilot doesn't have to look down

From there I made my way to the new UH-60S — the newest Black Hawk — this one is only two years old

And has the best mechanic assigned to its upkeep — he took me up top and couldn't keep from explaining all the things he loved most about its design and performance

And then just like that the weather broke and I scrambled over to watch these guys pull the blocks and chains off the Sea Stallion

Seconds before it took off...The prop wash and the turbine wind from this Sea Stallion were so powerful I had to kneel down and lean in to take this shot and the camera was bouncing up and down in front of me

After the choppers were secure the Harrier 'Jump Jet' came screeching in from the distance and hovered over the deck

The blast from this was much stronger than from the Sea Stallion and just after I shot this I stepped behind a crane to get out of the way

The Harrier was loud and spectacular and even the flight crew seemed more engaged than they were with the helicopters

With the sun coming down the whole scene was pretty picturesque

Here is the interior of the Harrier seen the following day

Once the aircraft were secure, the USS Wasp needed to bring on fuel and supplies so this USNS ship met up with us

And just as it did the weather turned again and the decision came down to receive only fuel — 400,000 gallons of it over three hours

But even that proved tricky

Tricky, but not impossible and the Wasp sailors did all they needed to make it happen — enough for another photo essay

And once we were refueled, we disengaged and this destroyer pulled up alongside the tanker in the fog to receive its share of fuel

It was a long day for everyone and when it was over the Marines and Sailors enjoyed a USO show and Men In Black 3 ...

Before heading off to their sleeping quarters

The following day it was back on the flight deck and standing at parade rest for hours as the ship slowly crawled in to New York harbor

The Blue Angels flew by

Leaving a quivering silence and contrails in their wake

Moments later the ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty as this Marine stood silently by and watched

As we approached Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower — it became totally silent on deck with cheering and whistles coming from crowds ashore — unforgettable

And then the entire crew snapped a salute as we approached the USS Intrepid

And more cheers rolled in from the shore

And then it was a slow crawl as the ship slipped into port and the troops got ready to hit NYC

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