Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sailors manned the rail of the USS Nimitz as it entered Pearl Harbor yesterday for a brief stay in the islands. Nimitz's port call comes as the Pentagon considers whether to base a similar aircraft carrier in either Hawaii or Guam to enable a quick response to potential crises in Asia.

Nimitz makes isle stop
on way to Iraq

The carrier will provide
air support and assist with
security and surveillance

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier docked at Pearl Harbor yesterday for a two-day visit before it leaves to back up U.S.-led coalition forces fighting in Iraq.

The ship's 5,000 sailors, plus the roughly 1,200 crew from accompanying vessels, will provide on-call air support to coalition troops on the ground in Iraq, the carrier's leaders said.

The ship will also assist with security and surveillance for U.S. forces.

"We'll go over through the western Pacific and out into the Arabian Gulf," said Capt. Ted Branch, the Nimitz's commander. "Between here and there, we will do some training and some interaction with some other countries to promote interoperability and cooperation at sea."

Through tomorrow, though, the sailors will be resting and relaxing in the islands.

Hundreds of sailors, many dressed in aloha shirts and shorts, filed off the Nimitz after it docked midday to hit the beach and go golfing.

Navy workers secured the ropes for the USS Nimitz while sailors stood on deck manning the rail as the ship prepared to dock in Pearl Harbor yesterday for a brief stay in the islands. The ship's crew of 5,000 are due to stay in the islands for two days before continuing on to the western Pacific and the Persian Gulf.

"Many (of the crew) are young and have never been to Hawaii before, so they're very enthusiastic," Branch said.

"Obviously, it's a great place to visit."

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Molder, of Pocatello, Idaho, said he planned to "see the sights" while in Hawaii.

"We only have one day in port, so we're going to try to do what we can," Molder said.

His friend, Shaun Eggleston, a fellow petty officer from Orrville, Ohio, said they would golf, maybe catch a movie, and get something to eat.

The Nimitz, which boasts a 4.5-acre flight deck and is as tall as an 18-story building, is among the world's largest battleships.

Its stop in Hawaii comes as the Pentagon considers basing an aircraft carrier in the state or Guam to be closer to potential hotspots in Asia.

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