The H-46 helicopter was retired from Naval service in 2004, and currently, the US Marine Corps is transitioning from the H-46 to the MV-22 Osprey. During my active duty career, this was my primary aircraft, and I couldn't imagine writing Hover without using this helicopter. The H-46 is known colloquially as the "Phrog." Like any former H-46 air crew, I believe in "Phrogs phorever!"
Many variants of the H-60 helicopter exist. The aircraft pictured below is the SH-60B, used primarily for antisubmarine warfare. The MH-60 variant replaced the H-46.
The USS Kansas City (AOR-3), a fleet replenishment oiler, was decommissioned in 1994. I use her in the book as a tip-of-the-hat to the ship on which I lived many months during my active duty career.
The USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser possessing numerous tactical capabilities—air warfare, undersea warfare, surface warfare, and more. Equipped with long-range radar and precision weapons systems, you will find this type of ship in most carrier strike groups.
This photo of the USS Nimitz Battle Group was taken while I was on a Western Pacific deployment in 1993 and serving on the USS Kansas City. Today, the battle group is known as a carrier strike group. The composition of the force can vary, but generally speaking, the modern group is comprised of approximately 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, a carrier air wing with 65 to 70 aircraft, at least one cruiser and several destroyers and/or frigates. A logistics or supply ship might also accompany the group and on occasion, even a submarine.
In this photo, the USS Kansas City cruises directly behind the USS Nimitz. To the far right in this picture is the USS Lake Champlain.
In Hover, Sara flies many fast roping missions. The rope can be positioned in several places on an H-46 aircraft—over the aft ramp, out the main cabin door, or through the "hell hole" in the underbelly of the aircraft. Team members slide down the rope for rapid deployment.