U.S. Navy’s Oldest,Newest Aircraft Carriers Conduct Unique Pass in Red Sea


As the U.S. Navy’s oldest and newest aircraft carriers passed each other in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, Red Sea, a few Sailors had the chance to reunite with family members stationed aboard the other ships, June 21.

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), commissioned in 2006, is arriving on a schedule deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), as USS Enterprise (CVN 65), commissioned in 1961, wraps up its time in 5th Fleet. Both carriers are supporting maritime security operations in the 5th Fleet AOR.

Before the carriers headed toward their particular missions, six Sailors from Bush were flown via helicopter to Enterprise, and one Enterprise Sailor to Bush, for the opportunity to see loved ones stationed on flight decks less than a mile away from each other at the time. Brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and fiancées were reunited due to the efforts of Enterprise and Bush leadership.

“It was a total surprise, I was happy and shocked to see her,” said Chief Culinary Specialist Donald R. Lake, after seeing his sister, Operations Specialist 1st Class Mabel Lake. Chief Lake knew the Bush was passing by, but did not know his sister was coming to see him. He was told he had a package waiting for him in Enterprise’s Air Transfer Office before he headed up and found Mabel there.

“I’m just so pleased my command did this for me,” said Chief Lake. “It’s really rare to get to see family where you’re deployed, and I’m glad I got to spend a few hours with my sister on our deployments.”

Operations Specialist 3rd Class Joseph E. Vargo had the chance to see his wife and spend nearly eight hours with her after over five months apart.

“I knew flyovers happen between ships, but I was surprised that I had the chance to see my wife,” said Vargo. “I’m happy, and I’m thankful the captain helped this happen.”

Sailors crowded the flight decks of both aircraft carriers to catch a glimpse of their counterparts as they passed by. Enterprise rendered honors to Bush, with five whistles blown as the carrier passed – the first two indicating attention to the port side, the third a call to attention, and the last two an indication to carry on.

After the family members were flown back to their respective ships, Bush and Enterprise returned to their respective missions. Enterprise began its journey toward the end of deployment and turned over 5th fleet responsibilities to Bush after over four months in the AOR.

“Our Sailors performed every mission asked of them to their highest ability and with great pride in all we’ve accomplished,” said Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, commander of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group. “Today was a small reward for the separation they have endured over the past five months. I know we leave the ongoing mission in the Fifth Fleet AOR in capable hands, and that Bush will continue to execute this critical mission.”

USS Enterprise is currently conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. Navy 6th Fleet area of operations.

Source: navy, June  26, 2011;