Fly-way to the danger-zone: Photoblog aboard the USS Eisenhower

Fly-way to the danger-zone: Photoblog aboard the USS Eisenhower
4 min read
09 Dec, 2016
The USS Dwight D Eisenhower has been spearheading the US-led coalition's fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

One of the world's largest and most powerful military machines, along with its accompanying fleet of destroyers, cruisers and strike aircraft, the Eisenhower projects US power over a radius of 1,000 miles, making sure that shipping in the Gulf continues to move freely, and the oil upon which the world economy depends keeps flowing.

The New Arab was granted rare and exclusive access to the gargantuan ship as it conducted operations.

Read more: Life aboard the aircraft carrier bombing Syria and Iraq

All photos by James Brownsell.
An F-18 strike fighter jet, silhouetted against the setting sun, loops around the ship before its landing approach
The steam catapult shoots fighters and cargo planes off the ship, accelerating from 0-180mph in less than two seconds along a 500ft runway
The F-18 fleet is taking part in bombing runs against targets believed held by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, around an hour's flight from the carrier
The $30 million jet has a top speed of nearly 1,200mph
There are more than 60 strike aircraft, including F-18s and anti-submarine helicopters onboard, as well as reconnaissance aircraft and cargo planes
Around 25 percent of the ship's company are women, including many of the pilots
Crew in green shirts are responsible for hooking planes to catapults and maintaining aircraft; 'shooters' sit in a protected bubble within the deck and press the button to shoot the aircraft off the ship
The carrier's sick-bay is capable of performing surgical operations while at sea, though many critical trauma injuries are transferred directly to local hospitals
The USS Eisenhower has a Starbucks aboard, catering to the more than 5,300 crew, and raising questions over the role of private companies in US military operations
Most 'shooters' are former fastjet pilots. They all say they have the best job on the ship - but then, most of the crew say that
Flight deck operations are overseen by air traffic controllers, the 'airboss', and their deputy - named 'mini-boss'
The USS Dwight D Eisenhower was built between 1970-1975 and participated in the 1980 Iran hostage crisis, the Gulf war of the 1990s, and more recently supporting operations in Afghanistan
The Eisenhower's flight deck measures around 4.5 acres - larger than four football pitches
The flight deck crew can launch two aircraft and land one every 37 seconds in daylight operations, and one per minute at night
One of three 'arresting cables' which catch landing planes
Each plane landing on the ship has a tailhook, which catches an arresting cable at the precise moment of landing
Sparks fly as the 37,000lb (16,700kg) plane is slowed from 180mph to 0 in around two seconds, in a space of around 300ft
An F-18 accompanies a Hawkeye tactical aircraft, which provides airborne command-and-control capabilities of strike operations while also managing air, land and sea surveillance
Night operations are notoriously more difficult for pilots on aircraft carriers, but they are key to US military strategy
When walking around this vast, cavernous hangar, it is easy to forget that it is enclosed within a ship
Essential maintenance and repairs are carried out here, with spare parts being transferred from supply ships when necessary
Air crews often decorate fuel tanks with the squadron's name - the 'Wildcats' are Strike Fighter Squadron 131. Eisenhower also hosts the Gunslingers, Swamp Foxes, Zappers and Screwtops, among others
Crew members receive frequent briefings from more senior officers
Some repair jobs are a little more basic than others
All aircraft aboard US carriers are designed to fold up in order to save space on board. Fuel tanks are stored in racks in the ceiling above the aircraft 
The huge wings of the Hawkeye are swept back when not in use
Pilots also help decorate their own aircraft
During night-time operations, most of the ship - including this gym which is open to the sea - is bathed in a red light due to international maritime rules
Death from above: A rack of JDAM missiles ready to be loaded onto f-18 jets - each missile costs around $25,000
The sidewinder sleeps tonight: Each of the Raytheon-made air-to-air AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles costs upwards of $600,000. They are among the world's most-used missiles
Space aboard the aircraft carrier is always at a premium, despite the ship's vast size
A Seahawk helicopter's missile launcher
A Seahawk crewman conducts anti-submarine reconnaissance while flying at around 150mph, 500ft from the water's surface

Follow James Brownsell on Twitter: @JamesBrownsell