Doin’ the Ditch

Enterprise Ditch1.jpg

Suez Canal, Egypt (May 29, 2006) – Crew members gather on the bow for a Foreign Object Damage (FOD) Walk down as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits from the Mediterranean Sea to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility in the Red Sea via the Suez Canal. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Jhi L. Scott

Transiting the Suez Canal has become a staple of today’s carrier deployments as deployed strike groups leave the Sixth Fleet AOR (basically Med) and chop into the Fifth Fleet Area of Responsibility (northern Indian Ocean/Arabian Gulf) for part of their deployment. I never got to make the transit – back in “my” day we were at the tail end of that old thing called the Cold War (children, open your history books to page….), so all of our focus was on that region.

If you look close at the aircraft on the deck, you can see them buttoned up pretty tight. Reflective covers on the canopies to keep the incessant suns rays from damaging the “office” equipment (bake anything in an enclosed area at 150 degrees long enough and stuff starts to break), aircraft panels taped shut to keep dust and sand from mucking up the works.

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The crew are performing a FOD walk down, or looking for those little objects that can be sucked into an engine. Most likely in this case, though, they are probably getting ready for helo operations since you won’t be launching aircraft during the transit.

—posted by Pinch


  1. Excellent post, keen pics. It never occurred to me that the aircraft would need to be packaged the way they are to keep them operating, but it does make sense. I’m fascinated by the different colours worn by the crew which presumably indicate their roles. One thing, Pinch – I’d love to see bigger versions of these pics. If you can’t or don’t want to link them to big versions, can you provide a link to a page where they can be found?

  2. Apologies for not uploading or posting the link to the full-sized pictures – which are actually of very high quality from the Navy News stand. Here is the link to the particular Suez Transit in question: And regarding the flight deck jersey colors, here is an excellent page (again, from the Navy home page) that discusses exactly what you are suspected: