Nimitz given its official welcome

EVERETT — Everett officially rolled out the welcome mat for the crew of the USS Nimitz during a benefit luncheon at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Comcast Arena on Wednesday.

The event attracted about 250 community and business leaders and elected officials. With the help of corporate sponsors, Economic Alliance Snohomish County and United Way of Snohomish County cleared $6,000 from the event, which they donated to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Welcoming the Nimitz crew and the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, Capt. Jeffrey Ruth, were Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson; County Executive Aaron Reardon; Boeing defense executive Tim Peters; and USO Puget Sound Area executive director Don Leingang, a past executive officer of Naval Station Everett.

“Our community is enriched by the vitality, spirit and diversity of Navy families,” Stephanson said. “We look forward to engaging the USS Nimitz family as neighbors, friends and colleagues.”

“We want you to think of this as your home,” Reardon told the sailors.

“I want to thank you for the exceptional welcome we’ve received,” Ruth said. “Many of you in this room were there for our arrival.” Ruth took over as the Nimitz’s commanding officer March 29, shortly after the carrier pulled into Naval Station Everett. The Nimitz replaced the USS Abraham Lincoln, which left in December on its final deployment before a 45-month overhaul and refueling of its two nuclear reactors in Virginia.

The Nimitz started sea training exercises Monday for its next deployment, Ruth said.

“We will continue to enjoy your hospitality as our sailors are out to sea,” he said.

When the Navy retires the USS Enterprise later this year, the Nimitz, at 37 years old, will become the Navy’s oldest carrier, Ruth said. But it’s also the Navy’s fastest carrier.

How fast? one luncheon attendee asked.

“We are very fast with two reactors, fast with one reactor,” Ruth said.

For civilians, that translates to an official top speed of 35 knots, he said.

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102; kbatdorf@heraldnet.com.

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