BRO.gif (43736 bytes)NAVY CHRISTMAS '99
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last update December 11, 1999


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Navy Christmas '99: The USS Bataan Ready Group
The Shoot (The Reason We're Here)

November 27, 1999
Haifa, Israel

B Roll OnlineFinally pulled out the camera this morning.   After many miles of travel, we're finally able to do what we came to do.  Lt. Rick Haupt is our escort around the ship, showing us all the nooks and crannies of the USS Bataan, and giving us some great story ideas.

Our only opportunity to shoot well deck operations is in the morning. USS Bataan (LHD 5) The USS Bataan is considered an Amphibious Carrier.   That means it has a flight deck on top to launch and recover helicopters and harrier jump jets, while at the same time containing a well deck.  The back gate of the ship comes down and the smaller boats ship out.  I like to compare the well deck to the Russian Dolls the each have a smaller doll inside. 

There are two types of "smaller boats" contained on these amphib ships.  One is the LCACs (Landing Craft Air Cushion), large hovercrafts that can carry 10-15 vehicles.  The other small boat is the LCU.  These are more conventional boats that also carry a good number of trucks. The Bataan has 3 LCACs (hovercraft carriers) that carry humvee's and tanks, that carry Marines, that carry guns. 

LCAC off the coast of Haifa, Israel [photo: NC1 Wilson Bastidas]During their two weeks in port in Haifa, the Marines went to "the desert" to do exercises.  That meant removing all their equipment from the ship, via LCACs, LCUs, and simply driving it off.  As we arrive on the ship, the Marines are just wrapping up their exercise and returning to the ship. 

The LCUs are up and running.  The Bataan lowers it's well gate, while the LCUs pull up, tie on, and lower their gate.  Large Marine humvees and other trucks zip down the ramp and park in their large floating parking garage.

Action like this is great for sequences.   One large tire cuts seamlessly with the next, while the nats are great.

In the evening, we drive up the mountain side to USO Haifa.  Gilla Gerzon, a wonderful, caring Israeli women, runs the show up and has been a "mother" to thousands of sailors for almost 20 years.  To honor the Marines departing, she planned a show complete with singing and dancing.  A Marine sings the Star Spangled Banner, and a foursome of beautiful Israeli girls dance a show.

It was a fun way for sailors (and myself) to blow off some steam on the last night in port.  The boat pulls out tomorrow.

November 28, 1999
Haifa, Israel

Muster in the focsle.  The Navy way of saying "meet in the anchor room."  The focsle is the space in the front of the ship where all the anchor lines, and pierside lines come into.  It almost looks like a spider web with ropes, wires, and chains going in all directions.  As the ship pulls out this morning, this is where most of the action takes place.  Commands are yelled, hands are gripped, and ropes are pulled.  The 16 ropes that hold the boat to the dock are loosened, removed from their cleats, and then hoisted back up to the focsle.

Our morning starts in the front of the ship, and moves to to the rear.  After we are underway, the LCACs that were on the beach head back to the ship.  These impressive machines float on air, and zip right into the bottom of the ship.

Later on, we force grown sailors to cry.   In a regular segment of Navy Christmas, we videotape a sailor's family back home and bring the tape with us.  Then we tape the sailors watching the tape for the first time.   It is definitely cruel and unusual punishment.  The two families were so cute, they almost make me choke up a little, so I know it must have been tough for the families.

Tomorrow we fly around to the other ships, spreading Christmas cheer wherever we go...

Take care and keep in touch.