Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Spirit of CVN-76

14 May 2011

Ahoy There, Shipmates!
It was another early-morning carrier Unrep/Vertrep; all hands were at their stations, Captain Hartley had taken his customary place on the port bridge wing, and I was about to assume the wheel.  The Captain had already ordered “Dip Romeo”; the red-and-yellow stood out from the halyard to a brisk wind in the ‘standby’ position, the coffee mess was recharged for another long morning, all replenishment and maneuvering stations had reported “manned and ready”, and our stalwart “Crusaders” were airborne and already depositing their first “picks” on the Bird-Farm’s flight deck.  As she had done safely and successfully nearly 60 times since leaving New Jersey in January, Arctic was prepared to transfer fuel and supplies to…
USS Ronald Reagan and Crusader 17
Wait a minute!  That isn’t Enterprise, coming up fast from astern…and that isn’t Leyte Gulf off to starboard!  And that ship off to port…why, that looks just like us!! What’s going on?!

No, it wasn't an episode of 'Twilight Zone'.  It was our first Unrep this deployment with the ‘new kid on the Gulf’, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), her escort cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), and one-stop-shopping supply ship USNS Bridge (Arctic’s younger “sister”—T-AOE 10)—and the first step in the long process of turning-over operations in this part of the world to another Carrier Strike Group (CSG).  Does this mean that we are heading home?  No, no quite yet…our departure from these water is still about a month away.  Just as we slowly moved into Carl Vinson’s group’s duties, now “Ronnie” and her consorts will begin that process, first working with us and finally, around the second week of June, relieving us.
USNS Bridge
The long trip back north up the Red Sea, and then west across the Med, into the Atlantic and then home is within sight, and what a lovely view it is!

I hope you’ll all enjoy these photos of our soon-to-be reliefs…they aren’t quite as pretty as we are but give ‘em a chance.  We were certainly glad to see ‘em!

Tom Epps
Able Seaman
USNS Arctic
Gulf of Oman

USS Chancellorsville

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