Aircraft Carriers Are Like Floating Cities

Aircraft carriers are more than just floating airports, they’re more like floating cities. While aircraft carriers are best known as the ships that carry, load and launch many of the U.S. Navy’s airplanes and helicopters all over the world, people seldom think about the daily lives of the men and women who serve aboard these metal monstrosities. The average aircraft carrier houses 5,000 to 6,000 service personnel who are away at sea for between six months and a year at a time. The ship has everything its residents need to live, including multiple galleys (kitchens) and mess halls onboard, which collectively serve as many as 18,000 meals a day. The ship also has a sizable laundry facility, dentist and doctor's offices, various stores, gyms, a bank, a library, a movie theater, and a bank of telephones where personnel can talk to their families via satellite. Jobs are highly varied, just like in a normal city. Approximately 2,500 men and women form the air wing — the people who actually fly and maintain the aircraft. Another 3,000 or so people make up the ship's company, which keeps all parts of the carrier running smoothly, including everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Life onboard an aircraft carrier is undeniably difficult and exhausting, but it can also be exhilarating — a job like no other.