Water Hours at Sea

(audio:  Discussing water hours on the 1mc.  1:47)

After leaving Singapore in July, 1976, USS Ranger was returning to Subic Bay in the Philippines when the ship was directed to reverse course and head to the Indian Ocean on a mission that would keep the ship at sea for an extended period of time.  A ship creates its own fresh water by distilling sea water in huge evaporators.  The ship’s four steam catapults use a tremendous amount of fresh water to launch aircraft, and a crew of five thousand men operating in tropical conditions can consume large amounts of water during a normal day’s evolution.

When the level of fresh water becomes critical, it must be rationed.  The ship then goes on ‘water hours’ where fresh water is only available during certain times of the day.  An aircraft carrier operates twenty four hours a day, so at any particular time, people are working or sleeping compounding the frustration of this restriction.  There is nothing more despised than the thought of ‘water hours.’

Pay attention to the amount of water an aircraft carrier can consume during a 24 hour period.

As the Captain, I knew we were going to transit through the Malacca Straits that evening, but I was not at liberty to divulge this information to the crew because of the sensitivity of our mission.



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  2. Captain Nick, I remember and have always loved your announcement on the 1MC after the Ranger reversed course toward the Malacca Straits. You said that you had just spoken with the Admiral and you were unable to tell us where the Ranger was headed, but with any luck, we would all get to see the snows of Kilimanjaro together. Outstanding.
    That was a tough Indian Ocean cruise with the A-7s being grounded, most of us in VF-154 (and probably VF-21) were flying 2-3 sorties most days. I was one of a handful in 154 that had a current night qual so it made for alot of long days.

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