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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics
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NMU president visits U.S. sailors

NMU President Les Wong journeyed out to the Pacific Ocean to spend a couple days on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

From April 12 to 13, Wong was on the USS Stennis, which was running F18 training operations roughly 200 miles off the coast of San Diego.

The goal of his trip was to take a look at the educational opportunities for sailors on a ship who are deployed for months at a time. Only 12 other VIPs with jobs relating to education, shared the trip with Wong.

A propeller plane known as a COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery), often used for delivering mail and other cargo, flew Wong and the other VIPs to the carrier.

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“The actual spot where the plane lands is only 60 yards,” Wong said. “You literally cannot move with the four-point harness. I’m thankful the harness is so tight. It would probably hurt you if there were any movement.”

Wong spent most of the trip touring the carrier, spending only a few hours to sleep.

He said there is no cell phone reception or Internet access onboard carriers.

Wong said he observed the daily life of a sailor, including the education of servicemen and women while out at sea.

“The naval college has two to three professors on board,” Wong said. “The message of the Navy and Army is a commitment to have educated soldiers and sailors.”

The nuclear-powered reactors for the carrier enable it to have an unlimited range and a top speed of more than 30 knots.

According to Wong, the average age of the sailors on the ship was 19 to 20 years old.

When deployed, the USS Stennis carries thousands of sailors.

“The ship was moving at 20 to 25 knots effortlessly,” Wong said. “While on ship, you thought you were sitting still.”

For part of his stay, Wong was able to observe various landings and take-offs, both during the day and at night.

According to Wong, right before planes land, the engines spool up to full speed in case they miss the runway.

If they do, they are able to take off and come back for another landing attempt.

“They don’t light up at night, making it very dark, because they don’t want enemies seeing the ship,” Wong said. “Night landing is phenomenal and I saw a couple of guys miss. It has got to be a spooky feeling.”

A plane is hooked up to an aircraft catapult in order to assist in take-off. It provides enough force to launch the plane given the limited length of the flight deck.

“It’s a 5-G thrust when the catapult releases,” Wong said. “The acceleration is incredible.”

By the afternoon of Friday, April 13, Wong was off the aircraft carrier and caught an early morning flight back to Marquette on Saturday, April 14.

“A commercial jet was such a letdown after flying onto a carrier,” Wong said.

Wong spent his whole time aboard the USS Stennis observing the life of the sailors along with the operations of the ship, which provided an understanding of the dynamic amongst the sailors.

“Chain of command is important, but also cooperation and teamwork are necessary,” Wong said. “As one sailor said, ‘If you can’t get along, you’re off the ship.’”

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