Movie Review: “Aircraft Carrier”

by Rich Gibson

November 2017

We are introduced to a giant fleet, maybe 100 ships from all over the world, with the US Aircraft carrier in the lead, American flag flying prominently in the wind with the Captain in the foreground. It’s the Pacific Rim (“RimPac) exercise that runs every two years.

But there are no Russian ships

The film is presented as if peace rules the world, and the war ships are there to prevent war (rather like claiming Marines are taught not to kill people, but to be nice).

It is a beautiful advertisement for war.

And, embedded, are brief histories of sea warfare, from the Greeks, Romans, Brits, and finally, the US at Midway. Some thousands died but We won! Carriers!

The engineering on the US carrier is astonishing, as with the other ships: like the USS John McCain that crashed into cargo ships killing 10 sailors (so far five collisions this year in Asian waters),  like the littorals that break down all the time, and the stealth fighter jets that cost $100 million and wreck a lot. The reader may speculate as to what of that is not in the Imax.

The armaments are astounding, especially the thousands of pounds of bombs, rockets and machine guns on the planes, the missiles on the subs, and the weapons on the carrier. Scary!

Other than the stern but pleasant officers and maybe 10 very happy, cheerful, smiling, enlisted personnel from several different states they say, “Hi!” to, there is no life on the ships---no people below decks.

There is a mention of hard work and long hours, but no mention of how long the hours are (24 hour shifts are commonplace--one reason for the collisions, another being E-4s replacing Captains steering the ship), or the long lines in chow lines and no food for those at the end..

Safety first! But how safe is life on the ships?

“The presidentially mandated report estimated that 7.9 percent of female Marines and 6.5 percent of female sailors were victims of sexual assault in fiscal 2014, while 4.7 percent of female soldiers and 2.9 percent of female airmen were similarly abused.”

Sexual assaults, reasonably considered, take place in descending streams--officers down: “Assault reports rose at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, while dropping at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.”

Sexual assaults and other crimes are commonplace near US bases, 1000 and more of them in other countries. They often go unpunished as “The Constitution does not follow the flag,” and while the founding American (slaver) revolutionaries complained bitterly about this practice in the Declaration of Independence, the complaint was quickly forgotten by the new empire of capital.

There is no mention of the fact that the Taliban, for 16 years, has fought all this technology, and is winning--similar to Vietnam.

No mention of the dozens of wars going on in the world.

Of course, there is no mention of Fat Leonard, the 60 admirals, and the 444 officers being indicted with him, nor the many millions of dollars this vast conspiracy stole from the enlisted personnel they rule. It’s a penetration the KGB or current Russian intelligence could never possibly match.

No mention of the millions of homeless people wandering Europe, a result of the empires’ weapons of peace that cost a trillion dollars a year, denying Americans their health care and future.

No mention of the hundreds of thousand of dead in the last decades of war, recently guided by George W. Bush, the demagogue Obama, his minions Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, and now the socio-pathic narcissist Donald Trump.

Left out is the noxious pollution created by the Navy and other services, a multi-pronged assault on all aspects of the environment, but particularly in port waters where the befouled water must be cleaned regularly by Navy divers (part of the happy crew) who dive in, and drink some of the slime.

Of course, there is no mention of the long lines at the Veterans Administration, some veterans waiting 25 years for claims to clear, and assuredly no mention of the radioactive poisoning sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan suffered when their pristine, powerful, aircraft carrier parked off Fukishima and they were ordered to assist in the clean up.

The spectacular film in Imax concludes with very happy children smiling and waving at a departing carrier as the announcer declares, again--these ships are for peace.

The film is so inviting, some people may enlist because of it.

But, just perhaps those typically economic enlistees will figure out what’s up (that would be class and empire’s wars) and follow the lead of San Diego sailors during the wars on Vietnam. Three ships never left port: on board mutineers.

That would help in the peace process.

Dr Rich Gibson is a co-cofounder of the Rouge Forum (, an organization of school workers, students, and community people whose only line is: Class is important. He is an emeritus professor of history education at San Diego State University.