Sportsmen Scuttlebutt

My Cruise aboard the USS Nimitz
by Bob Art

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a Tiger Cruise aboard the USS Nimitz. The USS Nimitz was returning from the Persian Gulf, after participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A Tiger Cruise is an opportunity for friends and family of the Nimitz crew to see the Navy at work.  My son-in-law, who is part of the Reactor Control Division, invited me to participate.

I boarded the Nimitz in Hawaii on October 31st. The Nimitz was tied up at Pearl Harbor, just across from "Battleship Row ". The USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri so as the Nimitz set sail I was able to view a bit of Naval History .We cruised to San Diego (the Nimitz homeport) arriving November 5th.
I was welcomed onboard by my son-in-law, Jake Stevens, Petty Officer 2nd class. I was shown my bunk, in Reactor Control Quarters, along with 100 sailors and their tigers, male only. Jake showed me to my bunk, it was on the bottom of a 3 high stack, now I know why they call them coffin Racks, my bunk was quite low and narrow.
My first day on board proved to be quite confusing, with all the passage ways and different levels, I was given access to level 1 and up to level 011, the top of the tower. Below deck 1, were the reactors and 8 lower levels, the Nimitz is almost a floating high rise building!
After eating 3 square meals on the first day, I realized that I had to modify my diet or I would have to be lifted from the Nimitz with a crane. During the times I ate alone, while Jake was on watch, I tried to sit with as many different Divisions, and find out what each Division did on board ship, it was very interesting.
While on the Nimitz I saw an air show of all the planes and helicopters on board. I witnessed a F-18 break the sound barrier, at eye level on the flight deck and  jets on bombing runs, with 1000 lb bombs. I got to tour the ship, see an in-flight refueling, ship to ship transport of personnel, as well as the launch and recovery of aircraft.
The arrival in San Diego was something I will never forget, we were allowed on the flight deck, to stand behind our sponsor, and view a homecoming like none that I had seen before. Jake and I tried to find Jakes wife and daughter (my Daughter Courtney and Grand daughter Alena) and my wife Cindy, but in that crowd there was no hope, (although they did see me). Jakes division is always the first back on board and the last one off (to allow the hook up of shore power and reactor cool down), so we didn’t leave the ship for several hours, but I will never forget the reunion of Jake, Courtney and Alena, not to mention being very happy to see Cindy.
It was an experience I will never forget.  These young men and women do an outstanding job and deserve all the support and understanding that we can give them. I salute them and their families for a "Job well done!"

Thank you to the USS Nimitz, her crew and their families!