“It was like watching a finely choreographed dance, as they sent off one set of jets and then recovered a returning group. The speed at which this was all done was quite amazing” (http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Dave_Coverly)
The USS Enterprise (CVN 65) was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Nicknamed the “Big E” the carrier spans 1,123 ft, is powered by eight nuclear reactors, reaches 30+ knotts. She carries over 5,000 sailors comprised of around 3,000 members of ships company, and about 2,000 members of the air wing. Armament on the Big E includes multiple NATO Sea Sparrow launchers, 20mm CWIS mounts, and Rolling Airframe Missle launchers. The flight deck (1,123 ft) and Hangar house 60+ aircraft which can be launched off of the flight deck using one of the four steam powered catapults. These are some of the many things that help the USS Enterprise operate on a daily basis. On top of the many characteristics the Enterprise has, the carrier is also the center of an entire Carrier Strike group comprised of the carrier, an air wing (including Prowler, Hawkeye, F/A 18 Hornet and Super Hornet, SH-60 (Helicopter), and C-2 squadrons) one to two guided missile cruisers, two to three guided missile destroyers, up to two nuclear attack submarines, and a supply ship. (http://www.public.navy.mil/airfor/enterprise/Documents/Enterprise/facts_and_stats.html)
According to Paul Edwards, infrastructure exhibits the following features:
embeddedness, transparency, reach, learned part of membership, links with conventions of practice, embodiment of standards, built on an installed base, becomes visible upon breakdown, and is fixed in modular increments.
An aircraft carrier exhibits all of these features. All divisions of an aircraft carrier are tightly woven and embedded into each other, dependent on each other such that, in order for a carrier to carry out its duties assigned by the United States, every department must complete their tasks. It is transparent in that the Navy has a documented standard operating procedure which is to be followed in different situations to complete different tasks. It has reach/scope in that it is an internationally recognized and mobile unit (“A Global Force for Good.”) It is learned as a part of membership in that you do not learn how these departments operate, and how they interact with each other unless you are a part of the department. Links with conventions of practice, again, the Navy has learned from the generations and generations that came before it. Embodiment of standards, again the Navy has standard operating procedures, without such procedures, they would not be able to operate in the capacity in which they operate today. Built on and installed base every advancement that the Navy makes, whether it be new warships, weapons, training, etc. They keep aspects that worked in the past as a foundation, and build upon what already exists. Becomes visible upon breakdown, the Cuban Missile Crisis is a good example of breakdown when US intentions went awry in Cuba. This is regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to a nuclear conflict. Fixed in modular increments, when the Navy decides to decommission old ships an produce new ships, this does not happen all at once, it happens one or few at a time. For example, when the Navy started producing nuclear power ships and subs, they did not decommission all of the diesel ships at once and mass produce nuclear ships. In fact, there are still diesel ships in circulation today.
While it may not seem like it, those who know the workings of the military can say that the “choreographed ballet” that is the flight deck on an aircraft carrier is standardized in the way that it succeeds in carrying out operations. The success of the the USS Enterprise is critical in order for other departments in the military to function. For example, if an Air Force pilot is down in the middle of the ocean, it is important for all of the departments of the carrier to be functioning and on schedule in order for the helicopter pilots to launch and make the rescue. For example, one thing is off, they may be unable to make the rescue. If the fuel technicians have not fueled up the aircraft from the last flight, they will lose valuable time trying to fill up right before the rescue.
Each department individually works as the middleware, the “glue” (middleware.org) that holds the entire carrier infrastructure together. On a wider scale, the carrier infrastructure can be seen as the “glue” that, with other middleware holds the Navy, and even broader, the Department of r