Navy Ships I've deployed for "Med Floats"

Sunday, August 29, 2010 |

The photos I've included in this page are ships that I've been stationed on while assigned to the 6th Marines and 8th Marines within the 2nd Marine Division, headquartered in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. When we deployed, we traveled by (commercial) bus to Morehead City, North Carolina, which is about 47 miles away.. We did not have the luxury of having our families see us off as we do here in San Diego, Ca.

Even though we were not a part of the 'ships staff roster,' we did have access to all areas (barring security protocols) of the ship while enroute to our various destinations. Our main deployments were (and still are) referred to as "Med Floats (short for Mediterranean)," which typically lasted six months from time of deployment to return. In several cases, Med Floats have been extended in times of international crisis, depending on our location.

It takes approximately 18 days from the time you leave the port of Morehead City, NC., to the time you are in the port of Rota, Spain. From there, we usually have a couple of days for 'liberty..' see the sights, stretch your legs, and meet new people. We also held a few field activities, where we continued our training. Afterwards, your'e back on the ship and headed off to the next port. The next port of call was Milan, Italy...a VERY nice place to stop over for a bit (at least for me). This is where you start to enter the Mediterranean Ocean (hence the term "Med Float").

I hope you enjoy the photos I've taken along the way. I was indeed surprised to find I had not lost them after all these years, keeping in mind many of these shots were taken back in 1979, my very first Med Float, and surely my very first time ever being on a U.S. Navy Ship.

This was the very first Navy Ship I had ever been on. We were deploying from Morehead City, NC, which is the point of embarkation and debarkation for the 2nd Marine Division, which is about 37 miles away. I was one of 1,500 men on this ship; 900 of which were Marines from the 6th Marines I was assigned as an FMF Corpsman (HN).

I can still remember getting myself so lost on every level, ending up in places I should not have been. For a while, the only way I got around was just to follow the guy in front of me! As I acquired my 'sea-legs,' I throughly enjoyed being on the flight deck as much as possible. NOTHING beats being in the middle of the ocean at night; the stars are so close and so bright, it seems you can move a star by the flick of a finger.I also recall it being 'pitch black' at night; seeing your hand in front of your face was literally impossible. The USS NASHVILLE was decommissioned on 30 Sept 2009 in Norfolk,Virginia. Currently the country of India has placed a bid to purchase her for use in the Indian Navy Fleet.


Here we are, in port in Barcelona, Spain (1979), during our "Med Float," which took us from Morehead , NC  Rota, Spain in 18 days, and now here to Barcelona. Rota is in the Southwest part of Spain, whereas Barcelona is in the NW part of the country, just below the border of France.  bad traveling, I'd say for a Kid whose prior experience of traveling was Summer road trips to Grandparents' houses, Band Camp and Boy Scouts! The USS Pensacola housed 644 personnel, of which 300 were Marines from the 6th and/or 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. She was decommissioned in 1999; was sold to and is now sailing the seas as a part of the Republic of China Navy.


In this particular photo, we were LOVING the opportunity we had to enjoy "FLEET WEEK" in New York City. This was by far the most exciting time I've EVER had in any U.S. Port. The support of the vast public was simply amazing and at times overwhelming. When I found these pics to place here, I was taken back a bit when I noticed the Twin Towers in the background.

President Ronald Reagan's ordered two battle groups to be sent into the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya. America's aircraft were used to their highest potential as Libyan SAM sites and aggressive Libyan Navy ships were targeted and destroyed or damaged.
With her role in the Libyan strikes completed after the arrival of USS Enterprise into the region, USS America served for a time off of Lebanon (taking part in the 1983 evacuations) once more and  her way back home.
 USS America undertook her final deployment (out of a total of 20) on August 28th, 1995. Her thirty years of trusted service had finally come to an end. Decommissioning took place in middle 1996 and had her name struck from the Naval Vessel Register that same year. Sadly, she was selected for use as a target ship and sunk as such on May 14th, 2005 off of the North Carolina coast. Such was the end for the storied ship as she became the largest ship to ever be purposefully scuttled in this fashion. The event was secretive and unveiled days after the fact with the action serving useful to see how well a carrier to sustain damage from a variety of munitions including cruise missile strikes. 

This may sound a bit silly or immature for those in the civilian communities (since a few have said as much), but I wiped a few tears from my eyes when the announcement was made in a 'moment of silence' ceremony. I cannot explain the 'attachment' I felt having served, made friends with, went to classes in and CLEANED the decks of the USS America.I recall this ship (at that time) being the LARGEST ship I had EVER been on or seen. I was but one young Sailor amongst 5,200 Sailors and Marines on board this FLOATING CITY.

The America is known affectionately as "the Big A". At the time, USS America was the third ship in the United States Navy history named for the country.


This photo taken as I and some shipmates are returning back from liberty in Barcelona, Spain, on our way to France later that evening.

As usual, yet another 'huge ship' as far as I was concerned. I was (again) but one Sailor  a ship that carried about 2,500 men, out of which were around 1,800 Marines (and their Corpsmen, of course). It was aboard this ship that I experienced moving around and eating while we were under way in rough seas. I recall seeing a 'lip,' or 'edge' that stood above the surface of the dining table, so as to prevent food trays from being tossed onto the deck.



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