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Nimitz Strike Group Visits 'Land Down Under'

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051018-03
Release Date: 10/17/2005 8:00:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Dustin Q. Diaz, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ, Indian Ocean (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 and the fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10) made a visit to the “land down under” Oct. 7-12 when the ships pulled into Fremantle, Western Australia.

The Australian visit was eagerly anticipated by the 4,600 Sailors and Marines who had spent the previous 80 days patrolling the hot waters of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. After a short liberty boat ride from the anchored warship, shopping and dining opportunities awaited Sailors and Marines in the friendly town of Fremantle. Western Australia’s bustling capital city, Perth, was less than half an hour away from the fleet landing by train or taxi.

Among the attractions in Perth was the Caversham Wildlife Park. During the guided tour of the park, crew members walked among kangaroos, photographed koala bears and were allowed to hold a wombat.

“I was surprised the kangaroos were so friendly, and I’d never even seen a wombat before, let alone held one,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Justin Puterbaugh, a native of Seattle.

“I went to some of the nightclubs in Northbridge, and did a lot of shopping,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Clarissa Ingram, a native of San Antonio. “I liked how everything in Perth felt familiar. One area looked like San Francisco, another looked a lot like Boston. It was something you could relate to and not feel out of place.”

The Australians were gracious hosts, taking many crew members along for meals and sightseeing either through the local Adopt-a-Sailor program or chance meetings in town. Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (AW) Michael Caldwell, who was making his third visit to Australia with the Navy, said he always appreciates the hospitality of the locals.

“I’ve already seen many of the sights because people have shown me around before, so this time I just decided to relax,” said Caldwell, a native of Waxahachie, Texas. “But I still took the time to talk to many of the people around town. They’re so warm and welcoming, moreso than anywhere else I’ve been. I love coming here because even though you’re away from home, you’re still among friends.”

The ship also hosted an on-board reception for 400 invited guests, which was attended by Robin McClellan, U.S. Consul General, Perth.

Carrier Strike Group 11, led by Rear Adm. Peter Daly, includes Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), the guided-missile destroyers USS Higgins (DDG 76) and USS Chafee (DDG 90), the attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) and Bridge.

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