225. Enlisted Berthing

On This Page:

  1. Level
  2. Fast Facts
  3. Exhibit Description
  4. Photos & Videos
  5. More Information

Level: Third Deck

Floor plan of the third deck. A red star marks the center of Enlisted Berthing.

Read directions to Enlisted Berthing

Fast Facts

  • Sleeping arrangements on board Intrepid varied depending on your rank. 
  • Enlisted sailors—most of the crew—slept in packed berthing compartments like this one.
  • This compartment has racks (bunks) and lockers for 33 sailors.
The racks in this berthing compartment are stacked three high and are held up by posts and chains

Exhibit Description

While officers had private quarters or a few roommates, enlisted sailors slept in cramped berthing compartments located throughout the ship. Typically, sailors bunked with members of their division—other crew members with the same job.

The berthing compartment open to visitors is on third deck, not far from the enlisted mess, where sailors ate. You can look at the room through a glass wall. Each sailor was assigned a rack, the Navy word for a bed. It was very tight sleeping quarters. There could be 60 men berthed in one room.

The racks hang three or four high with little space above or below each one. They’re stacked three high in this room. Each rack consists of a metal frame with stretched canvas in the middle. Each rack holds a thin mattress made up with white sheets and a gray blanket. Each sailor also had one small gray metal locker about two feet square to stow personal things. Sailors also stowed items under their mattress.

These compartments were notoriously hot! No air conditioning in these spaces back then. And since the ship is all steel, it felt like sleeping in an oven in the heat of the Pacific. But over the decades, sailors came up with creative solutions for keeping cool. On quiet nights, some sailors took their bedding to the flight deck to sleep in the open air.

Photos & Videos

Color photo of berthing racks with unmade beds and towels hung around chains, a sailor in the background bends over a sea bag.
A typical berthing compartment on Intrepid, 1954. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Jack Edward Graver. P2013.16.25)
Color photo of sailor standing next to bunk, the middle bunk is open to reveal a locker and storage compartments below.
A sailor stands next to an open bunk locker, with clothing and other items stored inside, 1968. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of SN Danny Camp. P2014.12.227)

More Information

This berthing compartment represented typical accommodations for enlisted sailors, who were the vast majority of Intrepid’s crew. When the ship was at sea, around 3,000 men served on board. About 10% of them were officers and the rest enlisted.

Most crew members were part of the ship’s company and were assigned to the ship itself. Others served with the squadrons assigned to Intrepid. If Intrepid was designated flagship, the admiral’s staff also served on board.

The number of men on the ship changed from month to month as men joined the crew or were transferred. Crew numbers varied from year to year, depending on the ship’s missions. World War II and Vietnam War crews were larger than peacetime complements.

These numbers represent an average World War II complement:

Ship’s company: 2,040 enlisted / 130 officers

Air group: 730 enlisted / 140 officers

Flag (admiral’s) staff: 130 enlisted / 30 officers

Total: 2,900 enlisted / 300 officers

Intrepid’s crew differed from the crews on U.S. Navy ships today. For one thing,women never served on board Intrepid. The U.S. Navy barred women from serving on combat ships until 1994, 20 years after Intrepid’s decommissioning.