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USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
22 March 2010


Throughout my childhood, my father was an officer in the U.S. Navy.  The Navy moved us around to many different places, including overseas, so when people ask me where I'm from I don't have a good answer.  I've been in Hawaii for over five years now and that's the longest I have ever lived in one place.

Dad When I was younger my father was stationed on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) aircraft carrier.  I remember visiting the ship often enough that it became almost routine.  I was too young to remember all the details but I do recall quite a bit.  Mostly though, I remember my father being gone for many months at a time.  In the grand scheme of things he wasn't gone all that much but at the time it felt like it.  A typical deployment can be nearly nine months long.

The USS Nimitz was "born" in 1968, the same year I was, when the ship's keel was laid.  The ship was launched in 1972 and commissioned in 1975.  My father was on the ship's very first deployment so my memories of the ship are when it was the newest super-carrier in the fleet.  I have enough memories of the ship that I've developed a certain fondness for it.  The USS Nimitz and the Navy in general were certainly a large part of my childhood.

The Navy does a neat thing after a long deployment, they call it a Tiger Cruise.  Basically, when the ship is on its final leg home, they allow some guests to fly out and join the ship on its homeward journey.  For example, if the ship was deployed in the Pacific, some friends and family of the crew would fly to Hawaii then ride with the ship as it returns to its home port in San Diego.

When I was growing up my father was on several deployments.  I remember having a little map of the world and charting where the ship went while it was gone.  Unfortunately I was always too young to go on the Tiger Cruise.  I really wanted to but I never had the chance.  Oh well, life is full of disappointments.

Joe Now, years later, it turns out that a good friend of mine is stationed on the Nimitz.  After being deployed for many months to the Persian Gulf and all around the Pacific, they are finally headed back to their home port in San Diego this week.  My friend has invited me to be his guest on the Tiger Cruise.  It is a rare opportunity and being back on the Nimitz will make it even better.

They would normally stop in Hawaii on the way but this time they'll be going through Bremerton (near Seattle) instead.  I will fly out there to meet the ship then ride with it back to San Diego.  While under way I will have the opportunity to tour the ship and get a feel for life aboard an aircraft carrier.  There is even an "Air/Sea Power Demonstration" scheduled while out at sea.  I plan to get lots and lots of pictures.

I've been following the ship's status during the entire deployment.  Not only does the USS Nimitz have a newsletter and a home page, it also has a Wikipedia page, Facebook page, Twitter, RSS feed and generally more information on the Internet that you can shake a stick at.  My favorite though is a recent PBS documentary that was filmed on the ship.  It's a 10-part series called "Carrier" that gives an interesting perspective about living and working onboard an aircraft carrier.  Best of all, you can watch the entire series online at the PBS website.

I wrote this post ahead of time but by the time you read it, I will be floating around the ocean on one of the world's larges warships.  I'll try to refrain from accidentally launching any weapons or over-caffeinating the crew with Kona coffee.  When I return, I'm sure I'll have plenty of pictures to accompany a big long post all about my adventures at sea.  In the mean time, the rest of the family is still busy on the farm and ready to fill your coffee orders while I'm gone.


Kids Heather
P.S.  A couple apologies are in order here.  First, these two adorable boys, Joey and Ben, are the sons of my good friend Joe.  I want to take this opportunity to apologize to them.  Guys, I know this will probably be your father's last deployment and you may never get this opportunity again so please don't hate me when you get older, I know how you feel.  And to Heather, Joe's beautiful wife, I know it's not fair that Joe's been away for all this time and I get to see him first.  I promise I will do my best to make sure he gets home on time.

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