USA

Hooyah! US sailors enjoy Swim Call, a cool perk of deployment in the Med

Aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman's company held a Steel Beach party in an age-old tradition.

US Navy sailors are seen making the most of one of the coolest perks of deployment in footage showing them jumping off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman into the sea for a summertime swim.

They are also seen enjoying some R&R with some dancing on the deck as the aircraft carrier was turned into a 'Steel Beach' – a well-known event in the American navy – during what is known as Swim Call in the US, or Hands to Bathe in the UK, a maritime tradition dating back hundreds of years.

The ship's company are seen swimming in the deep, warm seas as many jump off the side of the aircraft carrier into the water to the US Navy's traditional battle cries of "Hooyah!"

USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) has been on deployment in Europe and is currently in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, where she has been taking part in joint maritime and air defence exercises to strengthen partnerships with regional allies and NATO partners.

The Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier had sailed around the Balearic Islands after making a scheduled port visit to Palma in Spain last month on 15 July, before heading to the Mediterranean for joint exercises as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 2 and the US Navy's Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) alongside the destroyer USS Cole and the Italian Navy frigate ITS Alpino.

The American Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the US Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by US Sixth Fleet to defend the interests of the US, allies and other key partners.

During her travels, she rested up in the warm waters to allow the ship's company to enjoy Swim Call – allowing the sailors to jump in the water, and go for a swim in the sea, with footage posted on social media on Thursday.

The crew enjoyed a party-like atmosphere with some synchonised dance routines and salsa dancing on deck while others jumped into the sea for a cooling swim in the ocean.

A steel beach party or steel beach picnic is a long-standing tradition in the United States Navy and often include barbecues held on the deck of the ship with volleyball, sporting events and other fun activities taking place on the flight deck or in the large hangar bays, much like a day at the beach but on the steel of the ship – hence the name.

British Royal Navy sailors have a similar barbecue-party tradition called Banyans, which often includes a trip to a beach to take a break from the sea.

The steel beach event often ties in with a Swim Call – an official instruction to allow the company to go for a swim in the sea, known in the Royal Navy as Hands to Bathe, stemming from times even before Britain's formal navy was formed.

It would have been an official order for 'all hands' to bathe in the sea for hygiene reasons, in the days when fresh water supplies were limited on board a ship and reserved for drinking.

The exact origins of the maritime tradition are lost in the mists of time but there are records of the Hands to Bathe order being given as a formal command as far back as the 18th century, instructing a ship's company to take a bath in the sea.

It is likely to stem from the days when personal hygiene was perhaps more of a luxury than a daily routine for sailors on board ships.

To allow the swim to take place in modern times, the ship comes to rest in the water in a static state – or in naval terms Zero PIM (Plan/Points Of Intended Movement in nautical navigation), or what non-seafarers might think of as anchoring up.

The crew is then given permission to jump in the water – including jumping off the side of the ship if health and safety checks have first been made, such as checking the temperature and depth of the water, for instance.

USS Harry S Truman's company looked like they enjoyed every moment in a brief break from their operations with their NATO allies which has included a range of exercises and drills such as replenishments at sea, warfare development exercises, international aircraft cross-deck landings, small boat operations, and other training and some joint exercises with the French and Italian navies.

The ship has also been pictured in the Mediterranean as four F/A-18E Super Hornets flew alongside a French Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT and two Rafale F-3Rs in formation above the carrier strike group.