Serving at Sea: Suiting up as a Sailor

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NORFOLK, Va. (WDBJ7) -- The United States Navy is the largest, most capable navy in the world.

With more than 330,000 active duty sailors and 289 deployable combat vessels, it's a career "Forged by the Sea."

So, I went to find out what it takes serving at sea.

I started off at the Norfolk Naval Station's Navy Exchange. It's the largest in world.

This is where I traded in my reporter life for a sailor's uniform. "It really is just making sure that all your boxes are checked before you head out, because once you're out to sea, you want to make sure that you're capable to sustaining your mission for any given period of time depending on whatever is going on in the world," explained Lt. Junior Grade Marc Rockwellpate.

I packed my bag and started training as a sailor.

Rockwellpate says a sailor can spend up to six to nine months out at sea, so preparation is key. "It takes a special person to commit themselves for getting underway and working in what can be an arduous environment sometimes," he said.

It's a tough environment, Rockwellpate said, for any sailor underway.

Like those on board an aircraft carrier.

The U.S. Navy currently has eleven in its fleet. Each supports up to 60 to 70 plus aircraft and around 5,000 sailors at sea. "Ships are capable of anything that a small city is capable of, they make their own power, they make their own water," added Rockwellpate.

That's because carriers are powered by two nuclear reactors and four enormous propellers, producing speeds of up to 30 knots.

This makes aircraft carriers the centerpiece of every strike group and the largest and fastest warships in the world.