Scoop Deck blogger Lance M. Bacon just completed a 24-hour embark aboard the carrier Harry S Truman. This is the play-by-play.
Reveille, reveille! All hands heave out and trice up. Reveille!
Truman’s 65-ton rudders are cutting through some choppier waters. It makes for a gentle rocking motion that invites one to remain in the rack. But Scoop Deck has claimed one of the 18,150 meals that will be prepared aboard Truman today, and we plan to enjoy it on the enlisted mess decks. There’s no way we’re going to miss that.
Capt. Joe Clarkson has been at Truman’s helm since February 2009. He has has more than 3,000 hours in the A-7E Corsair, the Hornet and the Super Hornet. (Photo by Lance M. Bacon)
Imagine being an NFL coach who has a team at the top of its game. It clinches a playoff spot early, only to be told to pause for six months. Then, when play resumes, the team has lost 25 percent of its All-Pro starters.
Capt. Joe Clarkson, Truman’s skipper, knows all too well how that feels.
The deployment delay caused by Big E has kept Clarkson’s crew in limbo for roughly half a year. He has seen five of 19 department heads transfer since his carrier was first qualified and ready to deploy. Though he takes it in stride, this is a big obstacle for anyone to overcome.
Still, he moves all ahead full.
Whenever we lose a key player, I sometimes think ‘we’ll never be able to replace them.’ But then a new one comes in just as good, and it really boosts your confidence.”
Clarkson said he is most concerned about the stress this causes on the crew and their families. He knows their pain – his daughter will graduate college in a month, and he has no idea whether he can attend.
“I know there are 3,000 stories like on board just like that,” he said.
Still, Scoop Deck has learned that if there is any discontent on the ship, it is not with the prospect of a forthcoming deployment. It is due to the fact that they are eager to go.
Before we head out, Scoop Deck talks with the skipper about his values. Integrity, he says, tops his list, and is the easiest to lose.