Steel Beach Picnic During the Cold War

By Rick Whitehead

In 1982, while operating in the Central Mediterranean, aboard the Aircraft Carrier Nimitz, along with her battle group escort ships, the crew was throwing what is called “a Steel Beach Picnic.”

Definition by Urban Dictionary

Definition by Urban Dictionary

While the party was rockin’ on the flight deck, one of the ships belonging to the Soviet Navy had outflanked one of our escorts, I believe it was either the Texas or Mississippi, and the Soviet ship was able to steam along side of our Carrier.

Now, our “Steel Beach Picnic” involved a huge amount of hamburgers and steaks and hot dogs and other food because it is after all just what the name implies: a picnic. Because it was on the deck of a United States Aircraft Carrier, with hundreds and hundreds of attendees, it was a really big picnic.

sttel beach picnic 2014-01-28_1805

While some Sailors relaxed and sunnned themselves, many others were shooting skeet, playing volleyball and throwing frisbees. It’s all designed to help morale. Everyone was in really good spirits, so everyone was game for some more sporty activity.

Bothered by the Soviet Destroyer still sailing along side of the Pride of the Fleet, the USS Nimitz (CVN68), the Crew quickly manned the rail on the Port side of our floating city. We were about to give new meaning to the term “Cold War.”

We began to sling frozen hamburgers like frisbees at the ship below, along with hot dogs and other food…Just not the steaks of course. Having an extreme, high-ground advantage on the Russian Destroyer, they couldn’t even think about any kind of retaliation. They just took the pelting, and even took some pictures.

After several minutes of this one-way frozen exchange, the Ruskies had all they could take. They began to steer away. As they were pulling ahead, they figured out a way to chuck something back at us. The Russian Sailors lined up shoulder to shoulder with their backs to us, dropped their draws and with military synchronicity, bent over and chucked us all moons!

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (April 9, 2007) - Sailo...

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (April 9, 2007) – Sailors take part in a steel beach picnic on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Steel beach picnics give Sailors a chance to relax and take a break from the daily demands of shipboard life. Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is completing a surge deployment in support of operations in the western Pacific. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joe Painter (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We snapped some pictures of our own, and then we all went back to our food, fun and games on the steel beach, thinking how much worse that sea battle could have been if we chucked more dangerous and powerful missiles at each other –especially nuclear ones!

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