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:

Evening Colors!

While still in port, I also got to witness another wonderful military and US Navy tradition: Evening Colors-- the ceremony every day wherein the flag, or National Ensign, is lowered at sunset, while the tune, "Retreat" is played in the background.
I got a video of the sailors lowering the colors on the 13th of September, the last day we were to be in port. I hope to use it as reference for a painting or some sort of color sketch.
Here is the video:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cezar and Bella, Marine Working Dogs

On September 12th, while we were still in port, we had a chance to meet and sketch some MWD, or Military Working Dogs, which were part of the 24th MEU on the USS Bataan (LHD-5).

We met Cpl Sunsette Winsler, and her tracker dog "Bella," and LCpl James Nemger, and his IED dog, "Cezar II."

We photographed them as they sat with the dogs and tried to have the dogs sit for us as we sketched. We sketched as good and as fast as we could, and had moderate success. What started as a dog portrait session quickly turned into a rapid draw gesture drawing session, where the sketches became more like impressions than portraits! But I think we captured a bit of the personalities of the dogs, if not the exact likeness!
Cpl Winsler and Bella

Getting Underway! Kicking the Tires, Lighting the Fires...

One of the fun and interesting things I got to do while aboard USS Bataan was to be invited down to watch the lighting of the boiler in preparation for getting underway. So we were shown down to the Aft Engine room, checked in at the Control Room, and went out into the Engine Room proper, with hearing protection and our sketchbooks and cameras to record the event.

It was a rare and exotic place, down in the depths of the ship where the Engineering Spaces are. Loud, hot, and somewhat frenetic.-- and while many would imagine that a modern warship would be nuclear-,  gas turbine-, or diesel-powered, the LHD runs on steam power generated by an old-school boiler! 

It was a blast from the past, how they lit the boiler: they basically used the equivalent of a large metal match!

After the crazy interesting scene of the lighting, we were able to sketch in the Control Room as the sailors manned the Boiler Console. Here are two quick pen sketches of the scene:

A couple days later, after we were underway, Victor Juhasz and I were invited by MM2 Thomas Gill to come down and sketch him and his coworkers in the other Engine Room, the Forward Engine Room. We were happy to oblige, to go down into their harsh environment and take some time to document their daily experience. We went there the next day, and sketched them talking shop, working on boiler barrels, and so on.


Polishing the Brightwork

The first sketch I did while aboard Bataan was of a young sailor doing what so many have done for centuries now-- making all the shiny brass things stay just so!  "Polishing the brightwork" as it is called, is a great Navy tradition.
So when I was wandering about smartly on deck the first day and saw a sailor engaged in this activity, I had to sketch it! So I got out my pencil and sketch pad and dashed off a quick contour drawing of the scene. Here is the modest result (a doodle of sorts, but it captures it):

Away to the USS Bataan!

I just got back from eleven days out with the Navy and Marine Corps, visiting two ships: the USS Bataan (LHD-5) and the USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19). I was given the great privilege of getting on board and underway with the 24th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit), to see them work and train on board the ships, and to sketch and photograph their activities!

I also had the privilege of doing art with several other war artists of note: Marine Combat Artist Col. Craig Streeter,  Marine Combat Artist CWO2 (ret) Mike Fay, and War Artists Victor Juhasz and Richard Johnson. Together we "wandered about smartly," finding people and things to sketch, to document for posterity the goings-on aboard a modern US naval vessel.
Richard Johnson and Michael Fay sketching and photographing Marines of the 24th MEU while they board USS Bataan (LHD-5) September 11th, 2016.

 War Artist Richard Johnson sketching on the fantail of the USS Bataan (LHD-5)  Sept 12th, 2016

War Artist and Illustrator Victor Juhasz sketches in the Ready Room on USS Bataan, September 16th, 2016.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Anchors Aweigh!

Welcome, Art and Navy History lovers out there, to this, my Navy Art blog. On this blog I'll be featuring my Navy art and Navy Art-related things, with an occasional Naval History-related posts.

For the last two years, I've been a Navy Artist, working for the Naval History and Heritage Command.

It's an interesting job, needless to say. As an artist for the Navy, I get to travel around all over the world, see interesting things, meet interesting people, and draw them. Then, I get to bring all the sketches and photos I take on my Navy Art trips home to the studio and realize them in larger-format media:  paintings, drawings, etc..

Here are a few images I've done over the course of the last two years:

From my trip to the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor in October 2014:

"Rosie the Sailor" rolls up her sleeves, preparing to go to work aboard USS Constitution during the ship's turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor, Oct 17, 2014.
"Heave, Ho!" Sailors on Constitution help pull the lines which moor USS Constitution so the ship can get underway on her turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor, Oct 17, 2014.
A Sailor in period Navy uniform ("1813s") works a line during the turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor.

A Constitution sailor cleans the salute cannon while returning from its cruise in Boston Harbor, Oct. 17, 2014.
Civilian crewmembers move the salute cannon on USS Constitution after returning to dock Oct 17, 2014.
Here are some sketches and paintings from my second trip, out to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and escort ships USS Gonzalez (DDG-66)  and USS Anzio (CG-68):
Captain Ryan Scholl in his chair on the Bridge of the USS Harry S. Truman.
Captain Stefen Walch in his chair on the bridge of USS Gonzalez (DDG-66).
Inside the Central Control Room on USS Gonzalez (DDG-66).
 Meeting of section heads in aviation on board USS Harry S. Truman.
Working the Bow-mounted Sonar aboard USS Gonzalez (DDG-66). 

 ABHC Reggie Barnes in Flight Deck Control verifying the numbers for the upcoming flight cycle on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).
 HM2 Christina Davis working on a patient in Harry S. Truman's Dental department.
 AC2 Stephen Brynes in Approach Control on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).
Truman Air Ops.
In Fire Suits during a GQ (General Quarters) Drill on USS Harry S. Truman.
 Fire Drill in Aft DC (Damage Control).
"The Thinker" (a.k.a. "Are We THERE yet?!" or, "Join the NAVY, they said; See the WORLD, they said...")