An e-mail from my husband:
Reading an old blog (#5, here) [I see that] you mentioned how you came to join the navy. You mentioned how you were in the "world's second largest nuclear navy," but didn't know exactly what that meant.
Allow me to explain...
At the time you were in VP-90, the US had the biggest navy, but because the went on a submarine building boom, they had the most ships with nuclear power plants. Therefore you were a member of the "second largest nuclear navy."
When the cold war ended, we discovered the Russian navy was largely a paper tiger. Their ships were poorly designed and poorly maintained. The also lacked enough qualified crews to put to sea. Since the breakup of the many of their ships, and especially their subs, have been scrapped.
Now the US has the largest navy and the largest nuclear navy. May you sleep better knowing that!
...and may all you sleep better as well.
Here is an example of the plane that VP-90 flew, the P-3 Orion, made by Lockheed:
VP-90 was the squadron we were in. The V stands for fixed-wing aircraft, the P stands for patrol, and the 90 is numerical designation of the squadron. The planes and crews did marine reconnaissance, theoretically looking for submarines, although they also looked at surface vessels. The longish horizontal "stinger" at the back of the plane is the MAD boom, a magnetic anomaly detector. It can detect significant anomalies in the earth's magnetic field such as those caused by a very big hunk of ferrous metal -- like a submarine moving underwater. This is the same type of plane that hurricane hunters use because it can fly low and slow and for a l-o-n-g time.
I knew y'all wanted to know ;-)