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Sunday, January 28, 2007

A bit off-topic: EA-3Bs in the Mediterranean Sea

I had my attention drawn back to my experience from 30 years ago. I made the last Med cruise of the USS Franklin D Roosevelt (CV-42). We operated strictly in the Western Mediterranean, as we were not very well equipped. We only had F-4 Phantoms, while the Forrestal class ships and better had F-14 Tomcats. I was an ensign, assigned to the CIC, which meant that I stood bridge and CIC Surface Watch Officer watches on the flag bridge. Being JOOW and JOOD on the bridge allowed me to get a good view, during daylight, of flight ops. Several times, we took on board an EA-3B on board. They were huge and were called "Whales". Their code name was "Ranger". Twenty years ago, about, Ranger 12, and EA-3B had a mishap on the USS Nimitz in the Ionian Sea, went over the side, broke up. The entire aircrew was lost. The Nimitz (CVN-68) page has the story, although you have to do a lot of scrolling. When we had an EA-3B on board, it took up a tremendous amount of real estate on the flight deck. When the EA-3B came forward to be catapulted, the entire forward flight deck had to kept clear. The EA-3B kept its wings folded until just before the cat shot, when they were unfolded. My memory is that they were launched from the left catapult of the Roosevelt. It is inconceivable, but true, that the A-3's were intended for use on board ships like the Roosevelt.

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