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Kitty Hawk Transfers Goodwill to Russian Ship

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050329-14
Release Date: 3/29/2005 1:05:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Christopher Koons, USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) took part in a gift exchange with Russian Vishnya-class AGI ship Kurily (CCB 208) at sea March 20.

The captains of both ships agreed to initiate the gesture of goodwill after Kurily's commanding officer agreed to move his ship so as not to interfere with Kitty Hawk and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5's practice air demonstration. Kurily had moved slightly too close for Kitty Hawk to safely conduct the air operations.

"Capt. [Tom] Parker decided to send a Kitty Hawk ball cap and other Kitty Hawk memorabilia to the Russian ship," said Ensign Kimberly Thompson, who is aboard Kitty Hawk on temporary assigned duty to Destroyer Squadron 15 from USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and served as translator for the bridge-to-bridge messages.

An SH-60F helicopter crew from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14 was then dispatched to fly the gifts over to Kurily while on a routine flight. The helicopter crew also contributed to the gift exchange during the flight over, said Thompson, who served as a translator.

"They put in a bunch of HS-14 'Charger' memorabilia," she said.

When the helicopter reached Kurily, it lowered the package of Kitty Hawk souvenirs down to Kurily's weather deck, where a large number of Russian Sailors had gathered to see the American helicopter.

"Many of them had cameras and were taking pictures of us," said Thompson.

After the HS-14 Sailors had lowered their package, the Russian Sailors tied a gift package of their own to the helicopter's lowering line for the Americans to take back up.

"They sent us a pastry, a calendar, two tapes of Russian music, a Russian navy outfit, a Russian garrison cap, a poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and other memorabilia items," said Thompson.

After the helicopter returned to Kitty Hawk with the Russian gifts, Thompson reflected back on the cordial exchange.

"It was conducted in a courteous and professional manner," she said. "I'd like to do something like this again."

Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Justin Lee, who was part of the HS-14 crew that delivered the gifts, said it was one of the most interesting experiences of his Navy career so far.

"It's always interesting to see how other countries' militaries operate," he said. "They were just as interested in us as we were in them."

The successful completion of this at-sea goodwill gesture included coordination from multiple assets of the Kitty Hawk Strike Group, including CVW-5, Destroyer Squadron 15 and Kitty Hawk.

Participating in an event such as this is something all Sailors should experience, said Lee.

"It showed that reaching out to other countries is an important part of Kitty Hawk's mission."

Kitty Hawk is currently participating in the annual Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration, and Foal Eagle (RSOI/FE) 2005 exercises. This is a combined/joint exercise conducted annually involving forces from both the United States and Republic of Korea.

The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is the largest carrier strike group in the Navy and is composed of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, CVW-5, the guided-missile cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Destroyer Squadron 15.

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