When you think of the Navy, you automatically think, wow fighting at sea that is cool! Yet there are things about this service that are kept on the down low. Read on as we dish the dirt at what really happens out at sea, you may be surprised.
Secret Life Of A Marine
At age 19, Shannon Ihrke joined the Marines. She served her country for four years and “pushed [her] body harder than [she] could have ever imagined.” She got spotted and went on to become a model. Her Instagram has over 72,000 followers. Just shows how military training can prepare you for anything.
It’s Getting Hot In Here
Aircraft carriers are built with only functionality in mind, meaning absolutely no thought is given to the crew’s comfort. One female marine confirms that aircraft carriers are practically floating college dorms: “Some people do it in their rack,” a female marine explained. “We had a girl get caught with a guy in her rack, though I’m not sure how they did it. The racks are less than 6′ long.”
Being pregnant in the military can be tough, as it means that women who play important roles in the group go home for a period of time. However, they have to stay onboard a ship until 20 weeks into the pregnancy. They have to get a special pregnancy outfit made.
Banned From Submarines
Submarines are probably one of the most known boats of the Navy, with many movies made about their escapades. The US Navy had a ban on women in submarines up until 2010. Now, there are about 80 female officers in submarines. However, this has come with some trouble, as the cramped quarters does not offer any privacy, to which of course has caused quite the stir.
Not For Fashionistas
The Navy has pages and pages of strict rules for hairstyles, especially when it comes to women in the service. Hairstyles cannot be “outrageously multicolored or faddish” and ponytails and pigtails “are not authorized.” “Foreign material” like beads cannot be braided into hair. The Navy is not for the stylish. Some have been banned for having dye in their hair.
A female officer was accused of having an ‘inappropriate relationship’ on a nuclear submarine and supposedly ‘wore the captain’s uniform’ while giving joke orders in the officers’ mess while submerged under the Atlantic. Five other officers on the sub were said to have threatened to resign in protest, at what they said was a violation of the Navy’s ‘no touching’ rule, it is claimed.
Being in the Navy does not mean that you are just on a boat in the middle of nowhere for years in a row. The boats sometimes dock in major cities for Fleet Week, where servicemen and women get to enjoy the attractions of the city. You can go home, take off your uniform, change into more comfortable clothes, and it gives women a chance to dress up and have fun.
Barbara Ives grew up listening to her uncles’ war stories from the Navy. She wanted to experience the same sense of adventure. She was in the first class of women let into the United States Naval Academy, and she was with 80 other women, surrounded by thousands of men. Since she was in the first class, she experienced terrible issues ranging from non-fitting uniforms with heels that dug into the mud to discrimination. Still, she stuck with it, and served her country for 26 years.
Top Secret Operations
The Navy SEALs (SEa, Air, and Land) is an elite special forces unit that has one of the most grueling physical screening tests out there. The actual training itself is seven months long, and has an extremely high failure rate. You can probably get a first-hand view of the training, as it is actually on Imperial Beach in California. However, when it comes to the actual operations, everything is top secret, including operations that are already finished and done with.
NCIS Is Real
Although you probably think NCIS is a made up organization that fights crime on television like 24‘s CTU, it is not. The show is based on a real part of the Navy, called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They handle not only crimes but also have expanded to handle issues of counter-terrorism, cyber warfare, and counter-intelligence. Although it is naval in nature, half the people who work there are actually civilians. They work in at least 140 locations around the globe.
The Marine Corps physical fitness standards involve doing pull-ups. At first, there was no difference between men and women- everyone had to do them, albeit the women only had to do three pull-ups. However, over half the female recruits failed out after not being able to hit that standard. Then, the standards were changed- women only had to do a flexed arm hang. However, they still have the option to do pull-ups, and are incentivized to do them with extra points on the test.
Although the military tries to be as accommodating as possible with pregnancies, by giving time off for maternity and paternity leave, and fashioning uniforms that are more comfortable, it has caused some trouble. The reason is that many women who are on active duty are on boats around the world, and they need to be airlifted off of boats, and these transfers are very costly. Not to mention the pregnancy can take this trained worker away for a long time, leaving a gap.
There are many famous people who got their start in the Navy. One person was Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca, who served on two ships around the year 1920. Another celebrity who was in the Navy is Stanley Burrell, better known to the public as MC Hammer. Probably the most notable, though, is Neil Armstrong. Neil flew as a Naval aviator, and his plane was actually fired at and hit by Communist forces during the Korean War. Luckily, he ejected and survived to land on the moon.
How hard is the Navy SEALs training, really? This model, Lauren Berlingeri, decided to found a YouTube series called Woman Versus Workout, where she tries different styles and regimens of exercise. On a three-part episode, she tries a Navy SEAL routine, including a grueling 24-hour-long exercise, run by former SEALs. She did relatively well, and the boys were impressed that, depending on the exercise, she could keep up. Here, you see her freezing and wet in between workouts.
Training Is Torture
There was a lot of talk about waterboarding, a controversial technique employed by the CIA during interrogations of terrorists. Some consider it torture, as it causes the sensation of drowning, and can actually cause death. However, for certain elite military personnel, this scary technique used to be a routine part of training. It is reported that the Navy SEALs used to do it, but had to phase it out. It is undergone by SERE, a program that teaches survival skills to soldiers.
The Real Top Gun
During the Vietnam war, the Communist forces were somehow evading air-to-air missiles shot by United States fighter pilots. Two investigations suggested different reasons why. Either the technology was inadequate, or the actual maneuvering of the pilots was at fault. To combat the latter, the Navy put together what is now called the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, which is more popularly known as Topgun. The popular 1986 Tom Cruise film brought this program to the public’s attention.
What’s In A Name
Since the early 19th century, the person in charge of naming Navy ships is the Secretary of the Navy. Part of it is standardized: every ship starts with USS, which stands for United States Ship. Everyone gets a chance to contribute names that have some national or historical significance to the Naval Historical Center. When a name is approved that pays homage to a person, the oldest female descendant of this person gets the unique opportunity to christen the ship.
There are some recruits to the Navy SEALs who really put the “special” in special forces. These are the dogs that accompany the SEALs on their missions, including skydiving. The breed chosen is the Malinois, otherwise known as a kind of Belgian Shepherd dog. They are known to be very smart, and they can be trained to sniff out dangerous items like explosives. They can even act as scouts by putting video cameras on them, and having them check dangerous areas before soldiers are sent in.
The United States military overall has about 1.4 million soldiers on active duty. Of those, about 15% are women. This includes 53,000 women in the Navy, and 14,000 in the Marine Corps. In terms of those who have ascended to the top of the ranks, there are 21 female Admirals in the Navy, and one lone female general in the Marine Corps. There are many female officers in the Navy, and just under half of them are involved in the medical professions.
After the historic lifting of the ban on women in certain combat positions, there has been a flood of women who have come forward to enlist. One of the hardest units is the Navy SEALs, who are some of the physically and mentally fittest in the world. One woman signed up to be part of the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program. This critically tough program is hard for everyone-men and woman alike- and so it is no surprise that she dropped the course after a few weeks.
Most Aircraft Carriers
Aircraft carriers are absolutely amazing machines that can somehow float on the ocean, and at the same time, allow for take-off and landing of fighter planes. This modern marvel of engineering is done best by the United States Navy. The American fleet is the biggest in all the world, with a whopping 81 aircraft carriers. The next two are Britain, with 54, and France with 15. From there, the list drops off steeply. There are only 20 in service in the whole world, 11 of which are American.
Apparently, security on aircraft carriers is not all it is cracked up to be. This was shown in 1957, when 10 Australian college students, boarded the USS Bennington, which was docked in Sydney, boarded the ship. The pranksters were dressed as pirates, and somehow made it all the way to the bridge, and announced that the ship was “captured” by pirates. Lucky for these jokers, the Navy had a sense of humor, and they did not get in any legal trouble.
Connection To Budweiser
There is an unexpected connection between the Navy and Budweiser. If you look closely at the Navy SEALs uniform, they have a pin on it that is called the “Special Warfare Insignia.” There are a couple of proposed reasons that this seal is also known colloquially as the “Budweiser.” Firstly, the training course to become a SEAL is called the “BUD/S” course. Secondly, the insignia, with its wings, looks like the Anheuser-Busch logo, which is the company that makes the beer.
Fraud Of Seal Team Six
Seal Team Six, who is renowned for taking out the terrorist behind the 9/11 attacks, was first led by a man called Richard Marcinko. He also founded Red Cell, which is an organization meant to find the holes in security systems of the military. However, he got into some trouble, as he was convicted of defrauding the government when he misused funds when it came to buying supplies. This SEAL team six legend was sentenced to 21 months in Federal prison.
War is absolutely devastating for millions and millions of people, and should be avoided at all costs. However, looking at the bright side, war provided the opportunity for many young Americans to grow up and become truly experienced in what life is all about. The Navy has actually produced not one, not two, but SIX future presidents. It is amazing to consider that the people who ran the country were once young folks who had some higher ranking officer yelling at them over small stuff.
Talks Like A Sailor
Once you get a group of people together, whether it is scientists, fraternity members, or the Navy, there is going to be a very distinct jargon that develops. The Navy specifically has so many coded words that come half from old maritime terms, combined with military acronyms. The cafeteria is called the mess deck, which is not to be confused with the deck on top of the boat. Windows are called portholes. Right and left are not even in common use; rather they are replaced with port and starboard.
First Navy Jack
There is a flagpole that is special on each USS boat called the jackstaff, which was added to US Navy vessels in the 1800s. While the boat is docked (and not at sea), the jackstaff flies the First Navy Jack. This flag has thirteen stripes to represent the original 13 colonies, and has an American rattlesnake on it that says “DONT TREAD ON ME.” The snake is inspired by the Gadsden flag, designed by Christopher Gadsden, an American revolutionary and patriot from South Carolina.
One of the coolest, newest ships in the US Navy is the DDG1000, known otherwise as the USS Zumwalt. The ship is designed for stealth. It’s Star Wars Sith shape actually makes it appear like a small blip on radar that might be missed by the enemy. Funnily enough, the ship is headed by Captain James Kirk. The ship’s shape also helps is glide through the water and slice through waves. The vessel is a big improvement from the last generation of stealth.
Ban On Combat
For the longest time, women have had to fight to be, well, fighters. All the lobbying helped, as in 2015, the Defense Secretary Ash Carter decided that women would be allowed to do all combat positions. This was not an easy decision, and in fact got a lot of flack from high ranking brass, who wanted to have exclusively men be the ones who actually had their boots on the ground. However, Ash Carter’s orders were to do it “right away.”
Fights With Pirates
The Navy was first started back during the Revolutionary War, when America was first declared independent. Unbelievably, the Navy was then disbanded. Less than 20 years later, though, it was put back into commission by the government. Why? To fight pirates, of course. American merchant vessels were being attacked by Barbary pirates, and at first, Congress essentially paid the pirates to keep their ships safe. However, they also built six warships, and the next time there was trouble, the warships were sent in.
First Female Infantry Officer
This woman has broken a barrier and made history. Although there have been many men who passed the 13-week Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course, there had never been a woman to do so, until now. She has chosen to keep her identity secret from the public, but whoever she is, she will probably be the first of many to pass the course and become great warriors.