The Abraham Lincoln arrived Monday morning at the Port of Los Angeles to… (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles…)
A 20-story floating city nicknamed Abe arrived Monday morning at the Port of Los Angeles, complete with several thousand giddy personnel who, throughout the day, donned civvies to storm Southland beaches and attractions as part of L.A. Navy Week.
Hours earlier, the sailors had "manned the rails" — standing near the edges of the flight deck in their summer white uniforms as a tugboat towed the enormous Nimitz-class aircraft carrier into place. The Navy vessel returned in March to its home port of Everett, Wash., after a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, and is one of several ships in town for a grand show-and-tell this week.
Navy Week is designed to allow Southern California residents to see visiting ships and interact with personnel and to let sailors enjoy some highly prized liberty. Perhaps not incidentally in this time of federal budget brinkmanship, it's a chance for the Navy to display something big and tangible to taxpayers.
This, after all, is a ship that, at 1,092 feet, is longer than three football fields and boasts a 4.5-acre flight deck area and two 30-ton anchors. It features a hair salon, a post office, laundry facilities and a coffee stop staffed by Starbucks-trained "sailoristas." The ship's two huge galleys daily produce as many as 20,000 meals that include 180 dozen eggs and 620 pounds of hamburger.
"We're looking forward to showing the people here how much pride we have in our Navy and what we do in defense of our country," said Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9, of which the Abraham Lincoln is the flagship.
While in L.A., sailors will visit local theme parks and attend Dodgers baseball games. With volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, some ship personnel will also help build houses for area residents. Other crew members will go Hollywood, attending a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
"I'm a Medieval Times-Knott's Berry Farm kind of girl," said Tykwa Goshay, an enlistee with an E3 rating, as she and a companion went ashore. Guenevere Wilber left her three children in the charge of their grandparents in Washington state and flew to the Southland to join her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Monte Wilber, an anesthesiologist temporarily assigned to the Lincoln. After posing in front of an F/A-18 Hornet fighter, they were looking forward to a visit to Disneyland.
Commissioned in 1989, the Lincoln has a varied history that includes service in the Philippines after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and several stints in the Persian Gulf.
On display Monday on the flight deck were a Hornet, a Super Hornet, a Seahawk helicopter and an E-2 Hawkeye"airborne early warning" aircraft.
Despite the ship's immensity, there's great attention to detail, especially when it relates to the 16th U.S. president for whom it is named. Each name badge pinned to the crew's summer whites sports a shiny 1972 Lincoln penny, in honor of the ship's hull number, 72.
Fully loaded for combat, the ship weighs 97,500 tons.
In addition to "Abe," as the Navy affectionately refers to the carrier, other ships participating in L.A. Navy Week include the guided-missile cruiser Princeton, the guided-missile destroyer Chafee and the mine-countermeasures ship Champion. Public tours will be offered all week. For a schedule of events, visit the Navy Week website.