Military Matters: Sailor for a day, life aboard a floating city

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NORFOLK, Va. (WTOK) - In a rare opportunity, WTOK was invited to step aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to get a real glimpse inside the world of the men and women who bravely serve our country every day.

I've been to training, got my kit, been tested on my swimming abilities and flown in a helicopter. Now the moment it's all been leading up to; landing on the nuclear powered USS Harry S.Truman.

About 100 miles off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, I get my first glimpse of the flight deck. After this, it’s off to the Captain’s cabin to get the low-down from commanding officer, Captain Nicholas Dienna.

"An aircraft carrier is a fortress and a city. We've been at sea for just about a week, in the course of a normal training exercise to continue to maintain both our certifications and proficiency,” says Dienna.

There are hundreds of roles on board, from sailors who keep the carrier on course from the bridge, to those who wash bed sheets, cook meals on board, and even a barber shop to keep sailors looking their best.

Logistics Specialist Trillshun Bacon was stationed at NAS Meridian a few years ago. Now, he's the air transportation officer. He's one of the first people to greet junior sailors arriving at the ship for the very first time.

"If you seeing me it means you're in the middle of the water, no land, there's nothing around us, so I try to be a helping face, a calming face and [say] 'it's going to be alright, let's get your bags. Let's get everything together for you'," Bacon says.

There's no denying that arriving onto what is essentially a floating city can be overwhelming and disorientating with many corridors to navigate.

Whether you're in the military yourself or a civilian, you just can't help but be impressed by the sheer size of this aircraft carrier.

The USS Harry S. Truman weighs in at more than 100,000 tons. It's capable of carrying up to 5000 sailors at any given point and 70 aircraft, both combat and support. It's a hive of activity 24 hours a day.

Captain Dienna says the ships capabilities shouldn't be underestimated.

"We are a floating city and an airport and a representation of U.S. Power that we can move worldwide. Sailors are absolutely selfless in volunteering to defend their fellow Americans," he says.