28 Jun 2016

Our Own Odysseys - the USS Enterprise

From Nights, 7:12 pm on 28 June 2016

Dave McKay had three stints on the USS Enterprise – not the starship, the aircraft carrier affectionately known as 'Big E'.

What was life like aboard? Bryan Crump finds out.

An extract from the interview

Dave McKay: My father was a port engineer and I hung out at the port a lot. I really enjoyed the guttural energy of the ship, the way the ship feels like a living organism. To me, although made of steel, it has a soul... Of course, when you shut it down it becomes quite dead, but whilst it’s out at sea it has this incredible life about it. I would relate it to the ship is the body and the people onboard are like the red corpuscles and the white blood cells that are sort of running around keeping it going.

When I got aboard I got this craving, I loved the smell of the ship. [The smell] is a combination of chicken soup, think of Campbell’s chicken soup, sump oil and jet fuel. It really is a one-of-a-kind smell. All destroyers and frigates and cruisers have a smell about them. Also on an aircraft carrier you can smell steam – there’s a lot of steam being used. Campbell’s chicken soup and sump oil and… I guess, David Lange would have said the smell of uranium, too. But thankfully they shield that from all the crew.

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