Sunday, March 14, 2010

The USS Nimitz

Recently, we all toured the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier and one of the largest warships in the world. The USS Nimitz visited Hong Kong for a rest and relaxation break after many months of deployment in the Persian Gulf. Phil and I have been on visiting aircraft carriers before. In fact, we had come to an evening reception on the USS Nimitz earlier in the week and visited the USS Nimitz when it was in Hong Kong in 2007. The kids however had long wanted to get out to a visiting warship and luckily it all came together for a first-ever fun and inspiring trip to a really big ship for them.

When the aircraft carriers come to Hong Kong, they do not anchor the carrier close to the city (though apparently they used to years ago). Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor is constantly changing via land reclamation projects and of course via much increased shipping traffic. For those reasons and security, the ship is anchored a good distance away from the downtown and the piers. At Fenwick Pier, a pier long used by the US forces, we boarded a small boat that taxied us out to the ship. Travel time was an hour each way. Definitely long enough to make us all feel like we arrived some place new when we reached the USS Nimitz.

The ship is like its own floating city, with multiple hairdressers, places of worship and over 5,000 inhabitants. When we pulled up, sailors were taking loads of garbage off the Nimitz. We later learned that some women pig farmers on Lantau Island had long had the contract for garbage disposal from the Nimitz. It was an interesting image; the huge warship and the much smaller Chinese boats working together over the mundane.

We took a tour of the ship, led by a pilot. The kids kept very close to the pilot leading us around. We have all watched the great IMAX movie The Magic of Flight many times over and thus we were all able to ask more detailed questions than the rest of our tour group. We got to see and touch the sling shot mechanism that shoots the planes off the carrier as well as the hooks that grab on to lines and yank the plane into an abrupt stop on deck.

Many of the pilots were based in Lemoore, California and thus we all had plenty of California Central Valley things to talk about. We got familiar with a couple of the pilots and even saw them out and about when they were visiting Stanley (the part of Hong Kong where we live). The kids asked a lot of questions about controlled spins, which is one of the more exciting maneuvers highlighted in the IMAX film. One of the women pilots told our girls that a controlled spin was just like a rollercoaster ride. Tori and Royce’s faces looked up at this pilot with complete awe.

The kids asked the pilots questions and the pilots asked them questions. The one question that stumped our kids: where are you from? Everyone looked at me for help before they even began to answer. The kids were much better at telling the pilots how to say things in Chinese or what was fun to do in Hong Kong than saying where they were from. It made me realize that even I say the easy answer that I am from California though I have not lived there in decades. The kids have not learned the easy answer yet and maybe for them there is not one.


Blogger stargazer00 said...

Hello, We toured the Nimitz in March of 2009. My son is coming home on that ship!

8:26 PM  

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