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FOX 10's Troy Hayden shows tour of USS Ronald Reagan

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  • Embedded on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan

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    Two nuclear powered aircraft carriers are now poised near Syria to help with any military operation there. Those carriers are amazing feats of engineering. Troy Hayden goes inside.
    Two nuclear powered aircraft carriers are now poised near Syria to help with any military operation there. Those carriers are amazing feats of engineering. And they are manned by dedicated young men and women, who live a life at sea that is far from easy.
SAN DIEGO -

It may be the most impressive war machine ever built.

It's sovereign territory of the United States that can travel almost anywhere in the world within days.
   
It's powered by two carrying dozens of advanced warplanes and their weapons.

It's all controlled by thousands of young dedicated sailors, aviators, men and women who often work far from home--many of them are from Arizona.

FOX 10 takes you on board the USS Ronald Reagan.

The flight deck is the most active and dangerous part of the ship.

It's a loud, windy, rolling frenzy of activity. There are people and planes moving all over the place at the same time.

Lt. Terrence Flournoy, who is from the valley, is in charge of a big chunk of the operation.

"We call it organized chaos at it's best," said Flournoy.

Chaos is what the ship can inflict on our nations' enemies.

The Reagan has four different steam driven catapults that can shoot two fully loaded planes off the deck every 30 seconds.

While those planes are taking off, others can land by using tailhooks and arrestor cables. They go from 160 miles an hour to 0 in three seconds.

Both operations take incredible skill.

Safety is everybody's job on deck, but one of the key people is known as the shooter.

That person sits in a little bunker-like spot and literally fires the catapult,  shooting the planes off the deck at 160 miles an hour.

The shooter that day was Lt. Matthew Gear who's from west Phoenix.

"These guys are landing on two acres in the middle of the ocean that is bobbing and weaving. It's amazing," said Gear.

The sailors on the bridge make sure the ship is heading where it needs to.

Believe it or not, even though they are surrounded by advanced computers, they still navigate using a pencil and compass.

The massive ship is turned by a teenager, with a steering wheel that looks like it could have come off an SUV.

"It's actually someone just out of high school who is steering the USS Ronald Reagan through the water," said Ltjg. Jason Alan Lambson
    
Without its topmost antennas, the Empire State Building stretches just over 1,200 feet into the sky, while the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan is just under 1,100 feet long.   

Some other comparisons: The Reagan reaches up 20 stories from the waterline, that's as tall as Phoenix's City Hall downtown.

But, the Reagan can move.

Sailors say she's the fastest ship in the fleet.

With a top speed of 35 knots, the Reagan is a little too fast to pull the average slalom water skier.

All that size and performance comes at a cost. She was $4.5 billion to build. That's the same amount of money it would take to construct 10 University of Phoenix Stadiums.
     
When it is on deployment, some 5,500 people live and work there.

Feeding them is CS1 Marcello Torres' job.

The galley is huge and always active. These men and women work hard and they go through a lot of food.

Their favorites?

"Pizza and chicken strips," said Torres. He says they go through 500 pounds of chicken strips for one meal.

Torres takes his job very seriously, everyone there does--from the sailor who takes out the trash, to the admiral in charge of the entire strike group.

"We've learned not to cut corners. You cut corners here, people get hurt. This is a very dangerous place," said Rear Adm. Patrick D. Hall.

And it's a very interesting place.

Amini City has it's own shopping mall, post office and barber shop.

FOX 10's Troy Hayden takes you to some of those places on Monday night's FOX 10 News at 9 p.m.

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