Sunday, August 31, 2008

USS Eisenhower Friends and Family Day Cruise -- Boarding and Underway

CVN 69 USS Dwight D Eisenhower at Anchor, 31 August 2008, 4:40 a.m.

We arrived at the Naval Base before 5:00 a.m. It was still very dark and a bit chilly. The skies were foggy and we weren't sure what the day would bring: rain, shine or somewhere in between.

Approaching an aircraft carrier in the misty dark is surreal. To stand between two carriers at the same time is more than the eye can take in. Moored next to the "Ike" is the Theodore Roosevelt.

The starboard elevators were lowered for boarding into the hangar bay, which is actually four levels below the flight deck. Most of the visitors would board at these two "brows" (gangplanks). One other entrance was available and that was the officers' brow onto the quarter deck, which is like the "lobby", then opens onto the hangar bay. Scott is a Lt. Commander so we were able to board by way of the officers' brow. :-)

We heard that the number of Navy personnel and visitors on board was about 7,900. The ship carries a population of over 5,000 when deployed.

Once on board we had breakfast and began wandering around the hangar bay then up to the flight deck. There were dozens of activities in the hangar bay as well as self-guided tour routes.

This was good because there was quite a bit of time allowed for boarding and for getting out to sea for the air show.

The pictures I am putting in tonight are just highlights of the early morning hours. When I get home I will have more time to sort and title and put many of them on Flickr. I might be able to do another post tomorrow.

This shows part of the starboard side. In the foreground is one of the elevators lowered to accommodate the brow. Part of the hangar bay can be seen through the opening.

At 8:00 a.m. the colors were raised, the national anthem played, and the underway operation began. The anchor was raised and all moorings untied. At 8:30 a.m. sharp the tugs began the slow process of pushing the ship out of the pier. She was moored stern-first, so backing her up was just like pulling out of a parking space. Those tug boats are tough little brutes! Then we were escorted by the Coast Guard launches, both on starboard and port sides, till we reached open sea.

Sailing through the Chesapeake Bay to get to the ocean took well over an hour. At the time of this photo we were still well within the Bay, but the sun was shining through, promising a great day. I really love this photo. It will be used often.

Looking north, this is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is 19 miles long. In two places the highway goes under the bay. This is one of those places. At this point we are crossing over the tunnel. Generally considered now to be in the Atlantic Ocean, the ship is not yet ready to go full speed. Future photos will show why.

Since there is a lot of water in these photos, I think they qualify for the Thematic Photographic Theme this week which is "watery". ;-)


Carol said...

It looks like you're really into it Barb. Those aircraft carriers certainly are impressive, I love the Chesapeake Bay photo too, that circle of light on the water is perfect. And the bridge, that is amazing.

I would say these photos fit the theme quite nicely. Looking forward to more.

Heidi said...

I love that second to last photo! Beautiful!

Glad you are enjoying your trip!

God bless our men and women in uniform, indeed!

Carmi said...

Damn, this is SO cool! It definitely qualifies as watery, Barb. I can't thank you enough for taking us along on this journey with you. What an experience it must have been!

Not yet ready to go full speed....hmm, my mind's racing on this one. Considering this thing's true speed potential (30 knots+, around 56 km/h....about as fast as I can peak flat out on my bike!), I'm going to venture that it would cause unacceptable erosion within the bay if the Captain opened it up near shore.

Anonymous said...

Barb, The pics are wonderful, the story is just as I remembered, we were there also, our pics aren't as good,but the way you told it is almost just as we experienced. We were close to the fence during the air show, a little boy about 11 was trying to see, My husband and I got him up to the front, after the take off and landing show as we were sitting along the edge a nice looking man in kaki colors, tapped me on the shoulder and gave what I found out to be a challenge chip for helping his son, I think he was a commander!! My son said it was an honor and explained the history of the chip thing to me. I felt very honored not to mention the awsome day, God Bless our Sons and Daughters for serving our country!! How can I get copies of your pics? Virginia from Dallas

vleon said...

Great pics, just as we remembered almost to a tee! Our pics are ok, but, WOW, can you purchase copies?
We were along the fence during the air take off and landing part, a little boy about 11 was trying to see, we got him up to the front, yea! just as we were sitting down for the rest of the show, an official looking young man tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a challange chip, I found out from my son the history of this, and was very honored, it says commander and has the air force seven designed on it! Awsome day and God Bless Our Sons and Daughters serving our Nation!!