A casual observer might wonder why U.S. aircraft carriers have a lonesome pole with one white light atop it on the starboard side of the flight deck, just aft the near end of the starboard catapult. It happened like this:
One dark night in the mid-1970s, the aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-60) and an escort of destroyers were tasked to make a night transit of the Strait of Messina. Commander Sixth Fleet’s strategy was to keep one carrier group in the western Mediterranean, another in the east, and it was time for the Saratoga group to switch from west to east. This most often was done at night to afford maximum daylight hours for flying on either end of the transit and, perhaps, to make things a bit more difficult for the trailing Soviet intelligence ship.