By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
The USS Nimitz tied up to its pier Monday morning at Everett Naval Station following a 70-day trip that included an exercise with other Pacific Rim countries.
The aircraft carrier Nimitz, which is homeported in Everett, delivered its crew back to friends and family who had not seen them for more than two months.
“I can’t overemphasize how proud I am of each and every one of the sailors aboard,” said Capt. Jeff Ruth, Nimitz commanding officer, in a statement. “Their professionalism and stellar performance led 22 nations through this demanding exercise.”
Since leaving Everett in June, the Nimitz crew completed a number of inspections and certifications that monitored the ship’s ability to overcome various emergency scenarios, which then led up to the biennial “Rim of the Pacific” exercise, Ruth said.
As the flagship for the combined task force, the Nimitz and its crew took part in the world’s largest international maritime exercise.
During the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” demonstration on July 17, the Nimitz became the first ship to test the use of biofuel for carrier-based aircraft. The Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert visited the aircraft carrier for the demonstration, a step toward the Navy’s goal to reduce energy consumption, decrease its reliance on fossil fuels and increase the use of alternative energy, Navy officials said.
A stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, meant that the Nimitz crew played host to more than 500 visitors as part of a public awareness campaign. The ship also hosted the Pacific Rim exercise closing reception, with nearly 2,000 people in attendance in the ship’s hangar bays.
Additionally, the Nimitz hosted its first “Lt. Cmdr. Regina Pearl Mills Leadership Award” presentation ceremony by her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Mills. The award went to Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Saleema N. Massey while in port at Naval Air Station North Island on Aug. 9. Mills served aboard the Nimitz as the Navy’s first female aircraft handler prior to being struck and killed by a vehicle when she stopped to assist others in a traffic collision Jan. 23 near Bremerton.