BREMERTON, wash. – Finally, the USS Nimitz returned home Sunday, close to a year after the aircraft carrier left Sinclair Inlet in Washington state.
100,000 tons of warship, by completing a deployment that included flying shooters against the Islamic State in the Middle East to navigate the disputed waters of the South China Sea, returns to Bremerton, Washington, after logging 99,000 miles. Navy leaders have called it one record-long journey for an airline in the years after World War II.
Most of its 3,000 sailors plus, of which approx. half served in their first deployment ever, boarded the warship ril 1, 2020 to quarantine COVID-19. While the crew manned the rails, Nimitz pushed his way through the Rich Passage to Sinclair Inlet Sunday, just 25 days shy of a full year away from families.
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“Every facet of America is here,” Rick Mengel, Nimitz’s Chief of Staff, told Kits Sun, part of the United States TODAY Network, in January 2020. “Some grew up on farms, others grew up in the city. Every time in life is here, from every state. We have America aboard the Nimitz. ”
The average age of a sailor on Nimitz is around 24. And thanks to social distancing, masking and the creation of a COVID-19 bubble, the first aircraft carrier group deployed during the pandemic endured not a single case of novel coronavirus out at sea, said the ship. Its seafarers have not yet been vaccinated due to the logistical challenges of obtaining ultra-cold inoculation at sea.
“We have done a lot to protect that bubble,” Ct said. Max Clark, Nimitz Commander.
The crew knew the effort, Clark said. America’s fleet of Nimitz-class airlines has been overtaxed, including the release of COVID-19 cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt last spring that took a sailor’s life.
“For a while there we said, ‘if it’s not Nimitz, it’s none,'” Clark said.
Nimitz had returned home several times during this implementation, only to return to another mission.
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Once in Bremerton, the aircraft carrier, named after the legendary naval admiral who helped the United States defeat the Janese Navy in World War II, is due to what is known as a “planned incremental availability” of maintenance on the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. It is moored at Pier Bravo at Naval Base Kits-Bremerton and does not require work in dry dock.
Nimitz implementation: a timeline
ril 1, 2020: Many Nimitz sailors board the ship at Naval Base Kits-Bremerton for quarantine.
Sen ril: After testing more than 8,000 sailors and civilians for the new coronavirus, USS Nimitz Bremerton is leaving for complete its training and get ready for implementation.
In the middle of May: Rear Administrator James A. Kirk, a native of Hershey, Pennsylvania, who made headlines a few years ago as the first curtain for the next-generation USS Zumwalt destroyer, becomes head of Nimitz’s Carrier Strike Group 11.
Early June: Nimitz, filled with more than 6,000 sailors, officially sets sail for dispatch, the Navy’s first such launch of a carrier strike group in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early July: A rare demonstration of power in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan are holding joint exercises to “strengthen combat readiness and skill”, including simulations to hit enemy territory while in waters required by China and neighboring countries.
Mid-July: Nimitz and its strike group trainer with the Indian Navy.
Early September: A search for Ian McKnight, an information systems technician there parents went overboard. McKnight not found.
Mid-September: Nimitz cruises through the Strait of Hormuz and in the waters of the Persian Gulf, the first aircraft carrier and strike group in the Gulf since the USS Abraham Lincoln sailed there in November 2019. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Force a surveillance drone flew over the ship while it was there with tensions high in the region. Its time in the Gulf includes stops at the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain and in Oman.
October: Nimitz takes a call from Navy Ct. Christopher Cassidy, head of the International Space Station.
Mid-November: Nimitz joins ships from the fleets of Australia, India and Jan. the “square” nations – in a planned exercise called Malabar, which has been going on since 1992.
November 27: Pentagon orders Nimitz back to the Persian Gulf region to help deter when troop withdrawals come in Iraq and Afghanistan.
December 21: USS Nimitz reaches the Horn of Africa in support of troop movements in Somalia and the surrounding countries and to help maintain pressure on terrorist groups in the region.
December 25: Nimitz takes a call from Vice President Mike Pence for Christmas.
31th December: The Pentagon announces Nimitz can go home to Bremerton.
January 3: Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announces the aircraft carrier and its strike group remains in the region because of what he said were provocations from Iran.
February 2nd: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin makes to send Nimitz home.
February 9: On the way home to Bremerton, the USS Nimitz sails into disputed waters of the South China Sea to meet and train with another aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group.
Late February: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and CEO Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, fly to the USS Nimitz as the warship approached San Diego. The warship arrives shortly after at Naval Air Station North Island to unload its aircraft.
4th of March: Nimitz arrives Naval Magazine Indian Island to discharge ordnance; some crew members go ashore there.
March 8 and beyond: The aircraft carrier is due to what is known as a “planned gradual availability” of maintenance on the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. It will be moored at Pier Bravo at Naval Base Kits-Bremerton.
Follow reporter Josh Farley on Twitter at @joshfarley
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This article was originally beaded on Kits Sun: USS Nimitz returns to the United States: Airline traveled 99,000 miles