Those of us who live on Puget Sound get to see our U.S. Navy’s ships heading out to sea or coming home quite often. There are several large Navy bases and facilities all along the Sound, including the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, WA. Just a couple of days ago, many saw the mighty USS Nimitz slipping out of Bremerton’s Sinclair Inlet into the Sound as it was leaving its homeport on its latest months-long global deployment.
The USS Nimitz is the Navy’s oldest active-duty aircraft carrier. She was commissioned in 1975 and is due for decommissioning in 2026, though it is possible that her active-duty life could be extended. She is the centerpiece of Carrier Strike Group 11, which is made up of the USS Nimitz, the San Diego-based cruiser USS Bunker Hill, and destroyers USS Decatur, USS Paul Hamilton, and USS Shoup, as well as the Pearl Harbor-based destroyers USS Chung Hoon and USS Wayne E. Meyer. Carrier Strike Group 11 also includes the squadron and staff of Lemoore, California-based Carrier Air Wing 17 and the staff of Everett, Washington-based destroyer squadron 9.
While in the Bremerton Shipyard, the Nimitz underwent the equivalent of 330,000 man-days of repairs and maintenance, which included the cleaning and inspection of 60,000 tubes on the carrier’s main engines and turbine generators’ condensers, as well as a complete laser alignment of the carrier’s catapults. The crew of 2,500 sailors also continued training for responding to a wide variety of combat scenarios, as well as for potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
The Nimitz‘s latest months-long mission will obviously have its crew out at sea on mission over some major holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s. Respecting this fact, there is a member of the crew called the “Fun Boss” or the Afloat Recreational Officer. In the case of the USS Nimitz, its present Afloat Recreational Officer is Lt. Comd. Adam Demeter. Under his direction, the crew of the Nimitz can count on special meals being prepared, of course, but they will also be given opportunities to be able to call family and friends at those holiday times. There will also be things like “door decorating” contests aboard ship while at sea.
In an interview with the local newspaper, the Kitsap Sun, the USS Nimitz‘s Commanding Officer, Capt. Cristopher Sweeney, said that the sailors aboard the USS Nimitz are “…trained and certified to deliver combat-ready naval forces to deter, and, if necessary, win conflicts through sustained and forward naval presence. We are prepared to operate as an integrated force to protect the American people and our interests in the most effective and efficient way possible.”
For those who live along the shores of Puget Sound, the sighting of these carriers and destroyers deploying or returning home from their deployments is a relatively common but majestic sight. We also see the Ohio-class submarines, accompanied as they are by U.S. Coast Guard cutters as they enter and leave, riding low and long in the water, and those who live on Whidbey Island see the aircraft-carrier-based planes flying their practice missions out of NAS Whidbey Island. The Navy is a major player in the economy of the Puget Sound region as well as in our nation’s defense.
We wish “Fair Winds and Following Seas” to the USS Nimitz and its crew, as well as Carrier Strike Group 11 as they head out into their new deployment.Whizzco