EVERETT – With the shrill tones of a bosun’s whistle, USS Abraham Lincoln sailors welcomed thousands of visitors aboard the massive aircraft carrier Wednesday at Naval Station Everett.
It’s been two years since the public was allowed to tour the 1,092-foot ship, and people from throughout the area and beyond lined up to walk the decks.
Some people came to enjoy the sunshine, some to see firsthand the complex workings of a floating airport. Others came to celebrate their patriotism.
“I came, one to support the troops, and two, because it’s the Fourth of July,” said Danica Melton of Arlington. “I think it’s amazing. They’ve done a wonderful job putting this together.”
About 6,000 visitors were allowed to wander the hangar and flight decks, where sailors were available to answer questions.
Loud sirens signaled when an aircraft elevator, typically used to bring warplanes between decks, made the short trip piled on with tourists.
“Every American citizen owns a part of this ship,” said Capt. Tom Nosenzo, the executive officer on-duty.
Being able to show the Lincoln to local crowds is especially rewarding, he said.
“It’s our home port and we love it here,” he said. “The people of Everett take care of us well.”
The Lincoln returned to port Saturday after spending about nine months at a Bremerton shipyard undergoing repairs.
The carrier was last in Everett in August 2006 after returning from the western Pacific. That was the ship’s eighth deployment since being commissioned in 1989.
The aircraft carrier is scheduled to be deployed again early next year.
On Wednesday, Kim Thompson came from Studio City, Calif., to see what her son, Airman Matthew McLemore, 20, does.
“I can’t imagine being up here when they’re actually out to sea, rocking and rolling,” she said.
McLemore operates the catapults that launch the planes, he said. Six family members and friends came to see him.
“It’s nice for them to see what I actually do. People don’t usually believe me,” the sailor said.
He enjoyed showing off the ship.
“Not many people get to be on an aircraft carrier. It’s something else. There’s nothing like it in the world,” he said.
Carrying a crew of about 5,000, the ship resembles a city at sea. There’s a post office, a TV and radio station, a newspaper, a fire department, a library and a barber shop that gives about 250 haircuts a day.
As many visitors left, they stopped to thank Mariner High School graduate Geoff Lewis, who said he still lives at home in Everett when he’s not deployed at sea.
The sailor enjoyed meeting visitors.
“I love it. It’s awesome,” the 22-year-old said.
The gratitude from guests makes all the not-so-fun jobs of the Navy a bit easier to take, he said.
On Independence Day, it made serving his country seem like the proper career.
“For every thank you I hear, for all the good jobs, that makes it all worth it,” he said.
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.