If a carrier-based aircraft has a major technical issue and there are no divert airfields available, naval aviators are faced with either bailing out and ejecting or taking their chances with the aircraft carrier’s cloth and steel barricades.

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Either one is far from an ideal situation, but at least the barricade keeps crews out of the water and allows for the possibility that the aircraft could fly again. Here are some historical videos that show the barricades at work.

A F/A-18 Hornet takes the barricade aboard the USS Nimitz due to a nose-gear malfunction:

Although barricade engagements are a rare occurrence, carrier deck crews train regularly to get the apparatus set up within minutes of being notified it will be needed.

The barricade evolved from simpler but similar systems, the barrier (really just a set of wires about waist high) and the Davis Barrier (a shorter version of the barricade). By the jet-age something more substantial was needed to stop increasingly heavier jets that land at faster speeds than their propeller-driven predecessors, and thus the Barricade was born.

An A-6E Intruder takes the barricade at night and during a storm aboard the USS Ranger in 1987:

A giant A-3 Skywarrior with a nose-gear issue takes the barricade aboard the relatively small USS Coral Sea:

A Tomcat takes the barrier during a storm in the Indian ocean with no tanker support:

A F11F takes the barricade aboard the USS Shangri La in the 1950s:

It may not be pretty, but the barricade has saved countless lives and airframes, and even with today’s technology, it remains an integral tool aboard modern aircraft carriers.

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Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.

Photos via US Navy