During the course of our stay, we were treated to tours of an ordnance magazine (large room where bombs and missiles are stored), machine shop, diesel engine room, television studio, radio station, and all levels of the "island" control tower. The one area deemed off-limits was the nuclear station that houses the two powerplants that enable this massive machine to propel 4.5-acres of sovereign American territory to the far reaches of the earth. Capable of motoring under nuke-generated steam power for decades, the Abe stops are dictated primarily by crew needs, food stores, ammunition replenishment, aircraft fuel, and service overhauls.
Our designated chaperon Lt. jg Lamar Bradley proved astonishingly punctual, arriving at scheduled times within seconds of our wristwatch alarms to escort us to a meeting or tour. His efficiency was laughable, especially to us slacker civilians.
Snaking through the massive hull requires monkey-like agility skills for ascending and descending the never-ending steep stairways known as ladders. The hallways themselves demand a hop-duck maneuver to pass through the polished portals, which conjures images of a thousand space station modules connected together. Without Lamar, we would be forever lost within the massive ship. Each turn looks like the last; every floor mirrors the one above. In talking with some sailors, they too have trepidation about navigating other portions of the ship. Many stick close to the essentials: quarters, head, and job station.
Most offices have Internet access, opening up a world of information and communication that makes being at sea feel less isolating. No doubt, Web access will reduce divorce rates with Amazon.com, 800Flowers.com, and BlueMountainGreetings.com being available 24/7.
Bingo has become a popular game on the Lincoln, and this week's grand prize was a Tracker ZR2 V-6, to be awarded just in time to drive home at the end of a long deployment. Chevrolet and military car dealer Auto Source sponsored the sizable prize that clearly excited the sailors. The bingo game was played over the ship's equivalent of public access TV, with the captain, XO, and other luminaries hosting. Numbers were called and winners collected their prizes on camera, closing the day right at 10 p.m. taps.