|USS PINCKNEY (DDG 91)|
Motto: "Proud to Serve"
|USS PINCKNEY & USS SOMERSET|
CORONADO BRIDGE IN BACKGROUND
It's Fleet Week in San Diego with many opportunities for the community to honor and celebrate the men and women of the military.
It is during this time, on September 21-22, 2014, that the public is invited to visit the Naval Air Station North Island, and to enjoy free tours of three active US Navy ships. The chance to personally board and walk around these huge technological wonders is an opportunity that Ron and I could not resist.
We found it interesting to drive through the main gate, and then drive through the base, normally off limits to the public, to the parking lot. NAS Coronado is the largest command center in the southwest region of the US. It resembles a small city and employs over 24,000 military and civilian personnel. It is also famous for being the Birthplace of Naval Aviation.
After parking and going through security, we walked a short distance to where the buses were loading to head over to the ships. We were in line for about one hour. It started out as a cloudy morning, however, the sun finally came out and it was warm. Once we reached the docks, we had the options of boarding a destroyer, an aircraft carrier, and an amphibious transport dock.
Our first stop was the destroyer, USS Pinckney (DDG 91), home based in San Diego. The uniformed Navy personnel conducting the tours and greeting the visitors were polite and friendly. There was plenty of time for questions during the one-hour tour. It did require walking up (and then down) six floors of narrow steep stairwells that were definitely not made for tall persons—at 5'7” that would include me. We also got to sit in the captain's chair at the bridge of the vessel.
|VINTAGE RUNS THE SHIP|
Our next visit was the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) which was launched in 1972 and weighs 101,600 tons. It is the super carrier of the US Navy and one of the largest warships in the world. Formerly based in Coronado, the home port is now Everett, Washington. At 1,092' in length, it is twice as long as the Pinckney (520 ft). It was fascinating to see the magnitude of the deck where aircraft are launched with the help of a catapult.To get to the flight deck, we rode the gigantic airplane elevator without walls.
Finally, we boarded the USS Somerset (LPD 25), an amphibious transport dock based in San Antonio, TX. Commissioned in 2014, it's the newest ship in the Navy. Its namesake and motto “Let's Roll” are to honor the bravery of the passengers and crew on hijacked United Airlines flight 93 that crashed in Somerset County, PA. In addition, street names from Somerset are hung along the hallways throughout the ship.
We then returned to the center, where there were dozens of aircraft, military boats, and vehicles for viewing. Most of them could be boarded, which was extremely popular with the children. We found the representatives at each display to be very informative.
After four and one-half hours of walking and standing in the sun, we were tired and ready to head out. Unlike most events, this one did not offer food for purchase so we were hungry as well. On the way home we stopped at our favorite restaurant, the Coronado Brewery, where Ron enjoyed his usual bratwurst burger and beer.
Thank you to the men and women in uniform who so valiantly serve our country. They deserve our support and prayers in this time of uncertainty in the world.
USS PINCKNEY (DDG 91)
|USS NIMITZ (CVN 68)|
FLIGHT DECK RUNWAY
|USS SOMERSET (LPD 25)|
MOTTO "LET'S ROLL"