Monday, March 20, 2017

Kicking the Tires, Lighting the Fires

I just read in the news recently that USS Bataan (LHD-5) is officially underway on her latest deployment to serve our nation in the Mediterranean Sea.

I was privileged to be on board her last September, as she prepared for this very deployment by undergoing PMINT training with the 24th MEU.

As it relates to the Bataan getting underway, I post here the beginnings of a painting which is in process on the easel this very day, and which depicts that very thing-- getting started. It's called, "Lighting the Boiler on USS Bataan," (oil on canvas, 27" x 24").

I was invited down to the Engineering spaces to see them light the boilers, which was a wonderful combination of Old and New, a modern amphibious assault ship still run by old-fashioned boiler steam!








 
 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Damage Control: Always Vigilant!

A US Navy ship is a highly-developed, powerful, fast and seaworthy thing. It is truly an engineering and craftsmanship wonder.

It is a giant conglomeration of parts-- thousands of tons of steel, miles of electric wires, fuel and water pipes, ventilation & heating & cooling ducts, and so on. Fill it up with people and countless other things-- many of which are flammable or can sink! There are so many things that can threaten the safety of the crew and the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Damage Control is critical to the survival of the ship, in war or in peacetime.
While on board the Harry S. Truman in September 2015, I got to witness a common but very important training event, conducted by the crew-- a GQ (General Quarters) Drill.

"General Quarters" is regularly sounded to keep the crew sharp, and on their toes, ready for any contingency. Every crewman has a duty station when this happens, and they all rush to their battle stations, put on their gear, and do drills. It's a very interesting thing to watch, and it makes you admire the efficiency and teamwork the Navy engages in with every sailor and section on board a naval vessel.

 Getting geared up fast for fire control...

"Fire Drill in Aft D.C." 2015, oil on canvas, 20" x 24" 
Here are some of the Fire Control related sketches I did while visiting the destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64):
 


 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

General Quarters-- Checking the Roster

The Muster Sheet is about as old a tradition as the Navy itself.  Accountability and readiness are key in maintaining a fighting ship's effectiveness, and the ships of the US Navy are no exception.

When I was visiting the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) back in September 2015, I got to see several General Quarters drills, and saw each section handle accountability during the drill.

Here, I've depicted two female sailors in charge of a group, checking the roster to make sure all are accounted for.

This is a small oil on canvas, where I used a toned ground and tried to maintain a deftness to the paint application, to keep the sketchy quality to the piece while also rendering realistically.

Refuel At Sea-- Quality Check

Greetings, Navy Art Aficionados and Lovers of All Things Sea-Going...

As you may know, I got the opportunity to go aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) as the ship went through pre-deployment training in September 2015.

One of the fun and exotic things I got to witness was a Replenishment At Sea, wherein the USNS Kanawha pulled up alongside, sent over hoses, and pumped fuel for the HST's aircraft.

I was given a float coat and cranial, and was allowed into Fuel Station 13, where I photographed the sailors working the lines between the ships to bring over the hoses. I also watched the ABF sailors (the Aviation Boatswains Mates - Fuels), a.k.a. "Grapes," test the fuel's clarity and color in a sort of "proof test" in a glass jar, before beginning the fuel transfer...

All the while, the sea is rushing by only a few feet below and between the ships as they maintain their close parallel track. It's something you just don't see every day.

Here is a painting based on that, called, "Refuel At Sea: Quality Check" (subtitle, "Proof Test").


Friday, September 30, 2016

Flight Operations on Bataan!

On September 15th, I was able to see a few more spots on the ship, several of which relate to one of the main functions of the LHD platform: Aviation.
It's key, when wanting to project power overseas, that the aviation assets on board a warship are a well-oiled machine. The ACE, or "Aviation Combat Element" consists of the squadron or squadrons of aircraft, fixed- and rotary-wing, that live on and fly missions from the ship. The ACE lives to support the other main element in the MEU: the troops on the ground-- also called the GCE, or "Ground Combat Element." 
 
Everything must function smoothly, from aircraft maintenance in the hangar bay to controlling the aircraft movement on the flight deck, to getting the aircraft off the ship and out on their missions. These activities are divided into several sections on the ship: two major ones being Flight Deck Control, and Primary Flight Control, two of the places I got to visit and sketch.

Flight Deck Control means exactly what it sounds like: control of the flight deck. It's where all the aircraft are managed and moved on the flight deck itself, and from the hangar bay and elevators.

Flight Deck Control
 
Primary Flight Control, or "Pri-Fly," (also known as the "Tower") is where all the aircraft are controlled from the moment the depart the deck of the ship until they're out into the airspace.
 "Pri-Fly," or Primary Flight Control.
 
Another view of the Air Boss in Pri-Fly on USS Bataan
 
Of course, all of this activity centers around one of the most important and often times most chaotic bits of real estate on the ship: the flight deck itself. All sorts of aircraft, equipment, and personnel call the flight deck home, and the deck crews assist Pri-Fly and Flight Deck Control in getting the aircraft off of (and safely back on!) the deck.
 
 Deck Crewman AM3 Chyrsten Morrell with fire extinguisher ("Fire Bottle") waiting for the aircraft to land on the flight deck of USS Bataan.
 

Another view of the "Fire Bottle" AM3 Morrell...
 
Deck crewmen await the landing of the "birds" ( Helos and Ospreys)...


SH-60 Sea Hawk after having landed on the flight deck of USS Bataan September 15th, 2016
 Osprey of VMM-365 during flight ops on the flight deck of USS Bataan September 15th, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ready Room!

 
Victor Juhasz laying down the scene in the Ready Room on USS Bataan 16 September 2016
 A sketch artist should always be prepared--- sketch book in hand and pencils sharpened-- ready to go when duty calls....
If only we had a room in which to get ready, and to focus on the task before us... a "ready room" so to speak (Oh wait, I guess that's what a studio is, really!).

Aviators also must be ready to go, available to take off at a moments notice. There is a place set aside for this on board navy vessels. The Ready Room on an aircraft carrier (or other aviation-capable vessel such as an LHD) is a combination office, conference room, lounge, in which pilots fellowship as well as train and prepare mentally as they stand by for missions.

I got to sketch again in the Ready Room on USS Bataan along with a couple artists in our group.
We were allowed to come in and watch a briefing being given to some of the pilots of VMM-365  (Rein) -- a class on the IFF transponder (exciting subject to be sure).  We sat and sketched while the pilots sat in rapt attention:



Sketching with Victor Juhasz on board USS Bataan

While on USS Bataan, I was with a group of civilian and military war artists, our goal being to "wander about smartly" and sketch whatever scenes of interest we might find.

One of the great scenes we had the pleasure of witnessing and sketching was LCAC operations at the stern of the ship, aft, on the fantail, overlooking the well deck of the ship.

Victor Juhasz, a well-known and accomplished illustrator, courtroom artist, and war artist, was there as well, and we sketched the aft lookouts as they stood watch. We also sketched and video taped the comings and goings of the behemoths-on-air, the LCACs (Landing Craft Air Cushion) as they embarked and debarked the ship. What a site, what sounds! Sea and spray, fans and air jets! It was a wet and wild experience it was.
Victor draws the aft lookout, Seaman James Carr:
My sketches while on the fantail:
LCAC approaching the USS Bataan during LCAC Operations September 16th, 2016

Aft Lookout on USS Bataan, September 16th, 2016
Seaman James Carr, Aft Lookout on USS Bataan, September 16th, 2016
Here's a cool video of one of the LCACs coming up to enter the well deck of Bataan:
And one of the LCACs disembarking the well deck of Bataan: