Warships (5/10)

Continuing this week on Five is the series that brings to life the classic card game of the 1970s and 80s. Hosted by Robert Llewellyn and Ashley Hames, the show uses the Top Trumps format to examine all manner of extreme machines. This week’s show focuses on huge warships. Ashley visits an enormous American aircraft carrier in the Pacific and Robert steps aboard the HMS Bulwark, a landing dock in the Baltic Sea.

First launched in the UK in 1977, Top Trumps is played using a pack of special cards featuring a range of statistics about a certain subject. Themes covered in the original game included cars, planes, dinosaurs and superheroes.

This ten-part series sees Robert and Ashley go head to head in a bid to outsmart each other across a range of subjects. With each show based on a different theme, the presenters go on personal fact-finding missions, before comparing what they have learned. After immersing themselves in their given topic, they battle it out to see which statistics are more impressive.

In this week’s episode, Ashley and Robert compete to find the best and most powerful warships. Ashley flies to a secret location in the Pacific and lands on one of the world’s biggest nuclear aircraft carriers, the USS John C Stennis, which supports air-combat operations around the globe. This floating 1,104 foot-long airport is home to no fewer than 70 planes and two nuclear reactors.

Ashley learns that this massive warship is a small city in itself, boasting its own post office, canteen and supermarket to cater for the needs of the crew. But his investigation puts him in a risky situation when he takes to the air to experience a dangerous and rather unusual landing procedure: “It’s not everyday you can say you’ve successfully crash-landed onto a nuclear aircraft carrier,” comments a shocked Ashley.

Robert, meanwhile, boards the HMSBulwark, an impressive landing platform dock just off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic sea. He discovers that one surprising way for landing craft to disembark from the Bulwark is to partly flood the ship – a tricky process that has to be done with great care. “It is slightly alarming being on a ship when there’s water coming in!” Robert admits.

More dangerous still is working on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier. Robert finds this out for himself when he takes part in a simulated land attack. Monitoring events from the bridge, he gets to enjoy a taste of real action – and even plasters his face with camouflage paint to get himself in the mood.

After all these eventful and somewhat nervewracking experiences, both Ashley and Robert are eager to compare figures. But which warship will come out on top?

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