The USS John C. Stennis set sail from Bremerton for the Persian Gulf on Tues., Jan. 16, at 10:00 a.m., the Kitsap (WA) Sun reported. -- Families of sailors are concerned by the carrier's departure "to such a troubled region with such haste," David Vognar wrote. -- "According to ship public relations specialist Joseph Vincent, the Stennis had expected to make a few 'cushy' port visits in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Dubai, but is instead headed directly to the Middle East area." -- In "two to three days" the Stennis will pick up the other ships of its "strike group" — "three destroyers, a cruiser, a submarine, and a supply ship" according to the Sun, though other accounts speak of seven surface ships and two submarines — off San Diego. -- "It will take about one month to reach the Persian Gulf." -- Some quoted remarks suggested the ideology inculcated in the crew, according to which the U.S. striving for global hegemony is essentially defensive in nature. -- One sailor said "she was proud to be going to sea 'so people can walk out freely and do their shopping without worrying about terrorists coming by,'" and another remarked that "We always need to maintain some kind of presence over there. The moment we slack up, that's when they start acting up." -- The USS John C. Stennis is a Nimitz-class supercarrier powered by two nuclear reactors and commissioned in 1995, costing $3.5 billion. -- The Stennis has a projected life of fifty years. -- By tonnage, the Nimitz-class carriers are the world's largest warships....
USS STENNIS DEPARTS BREMERTON FOR MIDDLE EAST
By David Vognar
Kitsap (WA) Sun
January 16, 2007
BREMERTON -- The ship that sailed in to port on Jan. 8, 2005, to snowfall deployed this morning on another cold and wintry day.
At 9:55 a.m. Tuesday, sailors lined the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis, waved to the crowd and watched as workers on the ground untied the ship's mooring lines.
Just after 10, the Bremerton-based aircraft supercarrier slowly began its deployment trip to the western Pacific Ocean and probably the Persian Gulf.
Crew members spent the hours before dawn making teary goodbyes to their families.
Andrea Gowin, from Whidbey Island, came to the base with her 19-month-old daughter, Madison, to say goodbye to her husband, Mark. "There's too many things to do at home," Mark said, "too much stuff to miss."
Friends and family of the ship's crew seemed anxious that the Stennis would be heading to such a troubled region with such haste.
According to ship public relations specialist Joseph Vincent, the Stennis had expected to make a few "cushy" port visits in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Dubai, but is instead headed directly to the Middle East area.
Public affairs officer John Perkins said the ship has not received more specific details, besides that it will be operating somewhere in the Central Command, or CENTCOM, which includes the Middle East, East Africa and Central Asia.
"We know what our mission sets are going to be. It's just a matter of what mission do they need us to execute," Perkins said.
Following President Bush's nationally televised speech last week that linked Iran to violence in Iraq, Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn said that having another ship alongside the USS Eisenhower will add stability.
"We'll have two carrier strike groups in the region, and Iran will see this," said Quinn, the commander of the strike group the Stennis will pick up in San Diego in two to three days. "I think it will deter them from doing something counter to our national interest."
Quinn also spoke to the concerns of friends and family of sailors on the ship.
"There's a lot of personal sacrifice with being in the Navy," Quinn said. "But I find that, in that personal sacrifice, there's nobility . . ."
Pat LeRoy left at 3:30 a.m. to see off her son. "I didn't care if I had to charge up my broom and go I was still going to see him," LeRoy said.
"I'm just sad to see him go. He's our only child and even though he's a big man, he's still my baby. I know they'll be back sometime late summer . . . unless Bush extends his vacation for him."
The ship is expected back in eight months, but the tour could last longer, Vincent said. It will take about one month to reach the Persian Gulf.
The strike group to accompany the Stennis will comprise three destroyers, a cruiser, a submarine and a supply ship.
In San Diego, where the ship will dock for a day, the ship's crew will increase from 3,200 to 5,000 when the air wing and fighter pilots step on board, Perkins said. The ship has room for 60 planes.
Not everyone was sad to leave the ship's home in Bremerton.
"I'll miss the people, but not the weather," Matelita Bolevakadinata said.
Bolevakadinata, a 21-year-old sailor from Fiji, said she looked forward to the adventure of her second deployment. Bolevakadinata's job is to secure planes with chalk and chains when they land on the carrier. "They're going to depend on my safety and how I carry myself on the flight deck," she said.
Bolevakadinata also said she was proud to be going to sea "so people can walk out freely and do their shopping without worrying about terrorists coming by."
Leaving for sea was no big deal for Ray Betancourt, who was going on his fifth deployment. Betancourt, a ship mechanic, said he thought the mission was necessary.
"We always need to maintain some kind of presence over there," he said. "The moment we slack up, that's when they start acting up."
But parting was still difficult. "The more and more you do it, it never gets any easier," Betancourt's wife, Melissa, said. The couple's young daughter, Ciarra, said she was worried about the safety of the ship.