Day 2: Feb. 27, 2004
Out to Sea



0600 reveille and to the office at 0700. Not exactly vacation hours but there were plenty of circumstances, like waiting in line to shower and shave, to squash any thoughts of the day being "normal". But it was normal for the sailors and that included the one hour of ship-wide cleaning that takes place every morning. For one brief moment, I thought that Danny was mopping the floor but quickly caught myself. He's actually involved in that traditional seaman activity - swabbing the deck.

The Public Affairs office is responsible for a daily newspaper, a "radio" station, and feeding several channels of TV programming. Not so well known is the fact that the office constantly monitors the ship's Angle-O-Meter and is prepared to broadcast warnings when called for.

Another Public Affairs Office responsibility is the Enterprise Room. CVN 65 is the eighth ship to carry the Enterprise name and this room gives a good overview of the name's history. The first Enterprise was a British ship captured and renamed during the American Revolution. CV 6 gained fame through its involvement in nearly every minute of WWII and the current Enterprise (CVN 65) was the world's first nuclear powered carrier.

Next we made a daylight visit to the flight deck. Across the bay, a three mast Coast Guard training ship makes quite a curious sight from the deck of a nuclear vessel. On the Enterprise, I grabbed a shot of one of the Sparrow missile systems and a forward view of the tower. Looking aft, what looks like R2D2 at the left side of the picture of the tower. is one of the Phalanx installations. Anything evading the outer defenses will be greeted by a wall of bullets put out by the fully automatic Phalanx. Use of the Don't Tread on Me Revolutionary War flag was once reserved for only the oldest ships in the navy. Starting on the September 11, 2002 anniversary of the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks, the flag has been flown by all U.S. ships while in port.

The arrival of Tigers was spread over Thursday evening and part of Friday but all were on board for the 1300 briefing. Several crew members briefed us on various aspects of the ship and the schedule for our visit. Speakers included Chief Poppe, of the food service, and the Air Wing Commander, Captian Cathey. Even the Enterprise's Commanding Officer, Captain Niedlinger, welcomed us aboard.

One of Fletcher's friends, Radar Specialist Joe Smith, took us up the tower and explained much of that forest of antennas on and around it. We also got a good view of some helicopter action on the flight deck.

At 1500, it was time to get underway. Tugs moved us smoothly from the dock and actually turned the huge ship completely around inside the harbor. Then it wasn't long before we were past the point and into open water. 40 degree temperatures and 25-30 MPH winds made lounging on deck less popular than it otherwise might have been.

Next, I was surprised by the whole department. If there were any advance clues, I missed them and, when everyone headed out the door, Fletcher had to ask me if I was going along. After some discussion about whether anyone should stay in the office, it was left empty for the first time that I was aware of. Thegroup headed to the Enterprise Room and arranged themselves with Fletcher and Chief Kiel at the front. I knew that Fletcher had just recently completed his Surface Warfare qualification and had not yet received his pin. I eventually put all of the clues together and realized that both he and Chief Kiel were getting their pins at this ceremony. Admittedly, the clue that did it was someone placing the award into my hand. I did not get any pictures of Fletcher receiving his pin because I was doing the pinning. I didn't get it quite straight but I guess it was close enough. Being able to pin this decoration on my son was certainly a thrill. What a neat surprise.

This newsroom like set is the Enterprise's TV studio. Broadcasts from the captain, or anyone else wanting to address the entire ship, originate here. There is also a regular bingo game that this week became a game for just the Tigers. Jason and CPO Kiel directed while Fletcher tracked the numbers and prizes. Rebekah, Misty, and Rich handled on air duties.

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