24 Hours Aboard the USS Wasp
A Rude Awakening
Around 4 a.m., I was jolted out of a sound sleep when Capt. Hawley came on the loudspeaker, saying “Good job engineering! Everyone else go back to sleep!” It turned out that there had been engine trouble during the night and the engineers were dispatched quickly to the deepest compartments of the ship—which are not air-conditioned—to fix the problem.
Dawn was announced by a grinding sound just above our heads as helicopters were readied for morning flights by having the chains which secure them to the deck when not in use, being taken off and dragged away. That is when I realized why they issued earplugs on the ship, as a crew member explained, “It is always noisy on board.”
Entering New York Harbor
A key briefing point had been to check the clearance the 190-foot-tall ship would have when sailing under the 215-foot clearance of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The captain asked the operations officer, “Going into the harbor, do we stay on the course planned or do we follow the ship going in ahead of us?” After a bit of discussion, it was agreed they would stay on the course that had been plotted out.
At 9 a.m., just before going under the bridge, the command was called to “Man the Rails!” It is an impressive and proud moment to see the sailors and marines interspersed every five feet or so along the edge of the deck. The Navy and Marines on board are assigned to work jointly on as many projects as possible to build the working relationship between the two services. Captain Hawley directed that all the ROTC and “Sea Cadets” making the trip participate in this, certainly a way to make sailors-in-training feel part of the Navy.
It was really a privilege and a thrill to be on the flight deck as the ship entered the harbor and passed the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and lower Manhattan to arrive at the Passenger Ship Terminal at 46th Street.