Electrified, I immediately told Michele that this might be our chance. The ship was far enough from the entrance to Pearl Harbor and moving fairly slowly, so the odds were on our side if we acted fast. We were out the door in less than three minutes. The short trip to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam took only about another fifteen minutes and we were quickly through the main gate and on our way to the the channel side.
The parking lots in the area were mostly filled due to both lunch hour and the carrier's pending arrival. Seems lots of active military personnel knew precisely when the ship would arrive and had beaten us to the spot. I panicked at the thought of missing this because we were driving around in search of a parking place and asked Michele to take over as I bailed out and headed for the channel shoreline.
As it turned out, she found a spot to park and arrived in plenty of time to watch the show. I apologized for being so crazy to see this event, but not too much. So, at long last, we were perfectly positioned as the U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN-74) sailed closer and closer.
One of the waiting tugboats put on a show for the large number of people lining the channel shoreline. It did a series of 360-degree spins to the applause and cheers of the crowd. The tug captain could certainly have heard the positive reaction since the channel is quite narrow.
Several military and civilian aircraft passed over the harbor entrance on their way to landing and the roar must've been deafening to the sailors manning the rail in their dress white uniforms. It took me back to 1977, when several junior officers, including me, were ordered to represent our E-2 squadron, in our whites, on the flight deck as the ship rendered honors passing the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. The Stennis crew yesterday was greeted with cheers of Aloha as their giant ship passed by on her way into the harbor and responded with their own waves.
And speaking of waves...I was surprised by the size of the waves hitting the seawall as the ship passed. It didn't seem to be going fast enough to generate as much wake as it did. The channel is between 350 and 400 yards wide, and that's not much room for the huge vessel.
What a great thrill to finally see this from shore. I have no doubt the crew, especially the younger members, will never forget the experience. I never have, and it's been almost forty years! Here are some photos and a link to a short video:
link to the tug which was doing "doughnuts".
link to a short video of the arrival.
Boeing C-40 Clipper would fly in just as the Stennis was entering the channel? This is the aircraft which replaced the McDonnell-Douglas C-9B I flew for six of my twenty years in the navy. We were treated to an air show and the carrier!
Northrup-Grumman E-2D wasn't included in the post. Nostalgia demanded an homage to this massively improved version of the E-2C I flew off the U.S.S. Coral Sea and the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk during the Stone Age. :)
link to a short YouTube video of a night landing aboard a carrier in which you can see the drop lights hanging straight down the stern.
Hope you all have a wonderful tomorrow and a peaceful weekend.