First off congrats on your choice to join the worlds greatest navy. I myself was an ABF in the navy. Went to school in Pensacola, Fl had a blast. The base and the training facility is great. The galley at Pensacola is probably the best in the Navy and so are the barracks or as the Navy calls them ships. You will wish that you had more time there.
Okay so as far as the job goes after A school you will as an ABF no doubt about it be sent to a ship. The last week of school the instructor brought in a blackboard that had a list of ships on it. On this board were as list of about 15 different Aircraft Carriers, and various other ships that handle aircraft. I choose USS Harry S. Truman CVN-75. So all the info I am about to give you is my experience from an Aircraft Carrier as I am not to certain how other ships operate.
What a lot of people don't know about ABFs is that most of the job takes place below decks. CVNs have 4 fuel pump rooms. Chances are since you are rated you will go below decks and work in what they call 2 pump aka the forward pump room or 3 pump the aft pump room. Most of the flight deck personal are unrated airman, or people who joined the navy without a particular job. The main benefit of working the flight deck is the extra pay. The huge downside to working the flight deck is the hours. The hours on the flight deck are what the Navy calls flight to flight. In other words you work from the time flight ops start to when they end which sometimes can be for more than 24 hours. Also like I said before the majority of the rate is below decks. So when it comes time to advance 90% of the questions on the test are below decks questions. If you are on the flight deck this is knowledge that is going to be hard to come by. So when you get to the ship and if they give you the option to work flight deck or below decks I would be sure to go below decks.
Okay so now when the ship is in port, mine was stationed out of Norfolk, VA, there is not a whole lot to do. We usually started work at around 0700. We were usually off work after lunch which was around 1100. Like I said not a whole to do in port as there are no aircraft on board the ship. You might do some maintenance maybe even pump some fuel to some tractors, or fork lifts. We were on 8 section duty, so every 8 days you have to stay on the ship and stand watches, and protect it from any attacks, fires etc. The day after duty we were usually aloud to have off not always though. In port was always a breeze. You will hear work hard and play hard. You will play hard in port work hard out to sea.
Now out to sea. Aircraft carriers go out to sea often. You have what the Navy calls work ups. Or working up to a deployment. During work ups you will be out to sea any where from 3 days up to 45 days. While you are out to sea below deck personal work 12 hour shifts. The shift usually goes from 0700 - 1900 for day crew and 1900 - 0700 for night crew. If you are working on the flight deck you will work flight to flight. Below decks works like this, like I said before three are 4 pump rooms on a CVN 1 pump, 2 pump, 3 pump, and 4 pump. The controls to 1 pimp and 2 pump are in 2 pump. With me? The controls to 3 pump and 4 pump are in 3 pump. Still with me? Okay each pump room will take turns with what they call duty. One day 2 pump has duty and then the next day 3 pump has duty. You will work in one of these pump rooms.
When you get to the ship remember you are the last man on the pole. In order to move up the pole you have to get qualifications. Below decks quals work like this. You start out as a sounder. Sounders go around the ship and measure the fuel levels in the ships fuel tanks, there are over 300 fuel tanks that hold over 3 million gallons of JP-5. Sounders will also take fuel samples from the pump rooms and run them to the QA lab for sampling. After this comes the JP-5 Filter Operator qualification. Each pump room is in charge of two filters. These things are huge, and you operate it by yourself sometimes all day long. After that comes your pump room operator qualification. This is the hardest qual to get. You have to know the pump room inside and out. After that comes the JP-5 computer operator qual. Once you know the pump room this one comes pretty easy. When you get to the ship you will listen to the person who is in charge of the computer. I have seen E5s working for E4s because the E5 was not qualified to operate the computer.
I will make this next part quick. Flight Deck. Flight deck personal are split into fueling crews. Each crew will go to a different fueling sponson and fuel aircraft. Again there are qualifications that have to be made. On the flight deck you can be qualified to work in Flight Deck repair, the QA Lab, or Flight Deck Control. I am not going to in depth because I do not know much about flight deck.
Okay so now that I have explained all that