Visit to USS Harry S. Truman, April 2005

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) at anchor in Stokes Bay

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States, interestingly the "S." middle name did not actually stand for any name in particular. This 8th of the Nimitz class Aircraft Carriers was named after him and was launched from Newport News, Virginia in 1996 and carries the Battle Flag motto of "GIVE 'EM HELL". At over 1,000 feet long, with a 5.5 acre flight-deck, it displaces over 97,000 tonnes, and has a crew complement of over 5,000. It can be home to 80 combat aircraft when deployed and is a true home from home for the crews for months at a time. The two 30 tonne anchors were removed from a  predecessor aircraft carrier and the twin nuclear reactors mean it can travel at 30 knots and steam for more than 3 million miles before they need refuelling.

Hornets lined up on the flight-deck View of the starboard side of the aircraft carrier The Aft end, where visitors arrive
Police launches patrol the area Armed guards on the deck View inside the hangar deck

USS Harry S. Truman has deployed numerous times since it was launched, and has taken part in a number of operations which have seen their crews in action over a number of regions. Operation Joint Endeavour in 1996 saw missions flown from The Mediterranean Sea over Bosnia Herzegovina. The associated Operation Deny Flight saw the implementation and policing of the No-Fly Zone over Bosnia. Operation Southern Watch saw missions flown from the Persian Gulf to maintain the No-Fly Zone over Southern Iraq in the years after the Gulf War. Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan from 2001 saw many missions flown in support of the anti-Taliban mission. Operation Iraqi Freedom saw missions flown during the 2nd Gulf War over Iraq from 2003.

For this latest deployment the ship departed from its home port in October 2004 with Carrier Air Wing 3 (CVW-3) embarked. Over 2,500 sorties were flown, accumulating 13,000 flying hours, including combat missions over Iraq. As the ship returned home it stopped over in the UK for a few days crew rest, before returning to its home port later in April 2005. It was whilst anchored here in Stokes Bay, off Portsmouth that we had the opportunity to visit this mighty vessel.

Despite the aircraft carriers vast size, hangar space is at a premium Naval aircraft typically have folding wings or rotors blades to save space A folded up S-3 Viking, under a ceiling filled with drop tanks

Our visit began from the Royal Naval base at Portsmouth, as we were ferried out to the carrier, embarking it at the stern. We were escorted through the huge hangar decks, then up through a maze of corridors to the squadron ready room for a briefing and drinks. After this, another escorted wander took us up through the Combat Information Center. No photographs were allowed here, but the movies give a reasonable representation, though we were struck by the air of calm and quiet organisation, as the screens displayed numerous radar plots of the surrounding area. Our tour eventually went higher up, and we ended up at Pri-Fly (Primary Flight Control), which has some great views of the massive flight deck.

Looking forward along the vast deck from Pri-Fly The H-60s are folded up and parked close together near the island Tightly packed Tomcats arranged on the rear flight deck
Hornets with their wings folded up on the deck An S-3 Viking with the rear hanging over the edge A folded up C-2 Greyhound taking up minimal space

After some time looking down from our perch at Pri-Fly, we then descended through the stairwells and corridors and went out to freely roam the massive flight-deck at our leisure. A small selection of pictures are shown here, just to give an idea of the sheer size of this vessel. It really is like an airfield, and until you get near the edge you forget that you are actually on a floating vessel at sea. 

Looking aft towards the rear flight deck CVN-75 island and some Seahawks Hornets parked up and just us wandering around
Electronic jamming Prowlers Folded up COD Folded up Hawkeye

HS-7 "Dirty Dogs" Seahawk assigned to CVW-3 aboard CVN-75

Aviation units embarked with CVW-3 during our visit were:

VRC-40 "Rawhides" from Norfolk, Virginia operating Grumman C-2 Greyhounds.
This unit provides personnel and mail transport plus cargo delivery to the aircraft carrier


VF-32 "Flying Swordsmen", from Oceana, Virginia operating Grumman F-14 Tomcats.
This was their final F-14 deployment before transitioning to the Super Hornet


VMFA-115 "Silver Eagles", from Beaufort, South Carolina, operating Northrop F/A-18C Hornets.


VFA-37 "Ragin' Bulls", from Oceana, Virginia, operating Northrop F/A-18C Hornets.


VFA-105 "Gunslingers", from Oceana, Virginia, operating Northrop F/A-18C Hornets.


VAQ-130 "Zappers", from Whidbey Island, Washington, operating Grumman EA-6B Prowlers.


VAW-126 "Seahawks", from Norfolk, Virginia, operating Grumman E-2 Hawkeyes.


HS-7 "Dusty Dogs", from Norfolk, Virginia, operating Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawks.


VS-22 "Vidars" or "Checkmates", from Jacksonville, Florida, operating Lockheed S-3 Vikings.


Following our visit we disembarked the carrier at the stern and headed back to the beach. All in all a great visit was had and we extend our thanks to our fantastic hosts.