Sunday, November 9, 2008

Those who go down to the sea in ships

The Navy and its Sailors go to sea. For Sailors, tours at sea and tours ashore are two different things entirely. They are "what it's all about"; the latter are the interludes between cruises. Sailors pride themselves, indeed brag about, how many months or years of their career they have spent at sea. The oceans are vast, and ships move slowly, so tours at sea are long, usually measured in months rather than weeks. The Navy culture: a deployment culture; deployments form the rhythm of Navy life for the Sailor and for their families. If "home is where the heart is," then many, perhaps most, Sailors have two homes—the one with family and friends ashore and the other with shipmates on deployment.

"The Navy's worldwide presence and availability "on the seven seas" are its hallmarks and make it usually the "first on the scene" when trouble er affecting U.S. interests in any corner of the globe. To this day, the Navy says, and on some level believes, that when a crisis springs up, the first question the president of the United States asks is, "Where are the carriers?"


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