A Navy Sailor Shows Us What Life Is Like Aboard An Amphibious Assault Ship

USS Wasp

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

I met Ensign Justin Shull at a visitors briefing where he explained how to transfer cash onto a Navy debit card to pay for my meals while aboard the USS Wasp last week.Shull reads our site and had seen a post we did about my upcoming trip on the US aircraft carrier Wasp from Norfolk to NYC for Fleet Week and he made a point to say hello.

When I first asked him if he were up for having me tail him around a bit and show people what life in the Navy is like, he was reluctant.

“I have the most boring job on the ship,” he told me. “Maybe you should find an aviator.” 

I explained that the mundane was what I was going for and that he would be a fine example. He agreed, and the day started off by meeting at his room around 5 a.m. for some Physical Training (PT).

At night, parts of the Wasp that have exterior doors or windows get bathed in non-white light to maintain night vision

Larger spaces like the hangar deck get green light

But that morning it was red light outside Ensign Shull's three man room that he shares with one other officer

The ship was rocking pretty good — here Shull is working on a nice way to ask that Marine doing push-ups to move over and give us more room

With not too much reluctance the Marine moved and Shull explained we were going to do dead lifts

But the ship was rocking way too much for me to keep my balance — this Marine got seasick during his workout and while his friends initially laughed — they quickly asked if he were OK and helped him back to his room

Shull works out several times a week — combining brisk cardio

With intervals of weight training — here he pauses to listen to the ship's announcement over the loudspeakers — each day is started by a new song then news — 'Werewolves of London' by Warren Zevon started Tuesday

Keeping in shape is important and if sailors fall outside their weight restrictions — they get assigned to special programs like the one run by the sailor on the left to bring their weight down

After the workout it's back to his room for a quick shower and a change into his uniform

Then we head over to the officers dining room — the Ward Room — for breakfast

The quick meal is followed up by a staff meeting with Ensign Shull's department leaders who go over items that need to be addressed throughout the day

After everyone in the department receives their briefing they report to their offices — Ensign Shull needs a moment to speak with one of his sailor's before I head in

Shull and his staff are responsible for cash disbursements aboard the Wasp and the job — working with that much cash — presents unique challenges

Once his staff is working on what they need to be doing — we head down to the ship's store for a look around before heading to Shull's other area of responsibility

The Ensign is also a boat officer and while he's not in charge of this today, this is where the boat and crew he'll oversea in an emergency are doing maintenance on the small craft

Lietl is a search and rescue swimmer whose sole job is to be available should someone or something fall into the water

After showing me 'Oscar' — the smart suit Lietl trains with by finding it in the dark waters — a call goes out that we are about to refuel

And Ensign Shull hands me off to Ensign Abt who tells me her staff are gearing up to receive 400,000 gallons of fuel

But like so much in the military it was hurry-up-and-wait for these sailors — the refueling didn't start for hours

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