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Embedded on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan

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The flight deck of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is all business. It can launch a fully loaded warplane every 30 seconds. The work up here, with pilots, flight crew, ordinance handlers, and firefighters is a dangerous ballet, with stakes as high as they get.

But below deck the ship is a small city, with 5,500 residents when fully loaded. And it has things you might not expect.

Like this tricked out barber shop called Hollywood Clips. It has a kind of biker theme and five chairs.

"You just make appointments, come in here and get haircuts. Pretty much the same as in the real world," said Brendan Ethridge.

There is a post office run by Arizona native Curt Butler.

"Exactly like any post office back home, but we are operating on an active warship," said Lt. Curt Butler.

There's also a 7-11 like back home and a shopping area called the mall, where you can buy snacks and clothes. But be careful how much you buy because you don't have much space to keep it.

This is the typical enlisted sailor's living space.

"It's a little smaller than a twin sized bed, and you don't really have much room here."

Not much room here either. This is called a coffin locker, and sailors store all of their personal belongings here for a six to 9 month deployment.

"You never really have any private space. That is one of the hardest things, you know showering, using the restroom," said Mikesa Ponder, NC3.

Maybe that's why the navy goes out of its way to make sure the crew has ways to blow off steam, from providing a fully staffed Starbucks, to creating theme nights where the crew gets together for fun after work. Emily Randell has the job title of Fun Boss.

"We have trivia night, bingo nights, family feud nights, movie and popcorn nights. We have a different activity night for them every night that they are out to sea," said Randell.

With down time during the day, you can play a little catch in the massive hangars, with an ocean view.

Maybe work up an appetite -- where sailors eat food in four different mess areas, all prepared in massive kitchens. And talk about a pantry. Look at all this food -- pallets of produce and dry goods.

So whether it's eating, shopping, playing, or just getting a haircut. You now know what it takes below deck to get these things off the deck.


The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan's connection with the president goes well beyond a name. It seems like everywhere you look, you see a Reagan picture. The dining rooms all have Reagan themes.

Even the president's boots, hat and belt buckle can be found in one hallway. Every carrier is named after a very influential person in the United States. And it's kind of a thing you can use to motivate sailors.

"Ronald Reagan is an easy sell."

He is sold all over this ship. One of the really cool features of the Reagan is an actual museum, dedicated to the former president's achievements. A piece of the Berlin Wall is the center piece. But there are letters here Reagan wrote to soviet leaders at the height of the Cold War -- and video clips.

The petty officer's mess is themed after Ronald Reagan's ranch called Rancho Del Cielo.

"This is the last piece of wood that Ronald Reagan cut up at the ranch, and significant, he heated his own house. Went and got his own wood. Nobody got it for him," said David Lynch, Command Master Chief.

From the rustic touch to the formal. The captain's office is a replica of the red room of the white house. It was designed with the help of former first lady Nancy Reagan.

It even has a jar of jelly beans, the president's favorite.

A red room mockup was paid for with private money, and the coolest thing to me is this chair and this desk. Both were used by Reagan when he was governor of California and they are on loan.

"It's impressive it really is. It's got the exact flavor of Nancy Reagan. It really does and that's neat," said Rear Adm. Patrick D. Hall, Carrier Strike Group 9.

So when they are eating, walking through the corridors, or hitting the museum, the crew can't miss Reagan and what he stood for.

"You're going to see him everywhere. And it's not because we have to. It's because we want to, you know."

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