ABOARD THE USS KITTY HAWK — The numbers are impressive.

More than 100 days at sea. More than 864,000 pounds of ordnance expended during 5,375 aircraft sorties. Thirty-seven underway replenishments. Almost 30,000 miles traveled since departing Yokosuka, Japan, on Jan. 20.

On Tuesday, the Kitty Hawk was returning home to a rousing welcome. In the interim, the numbers kept piling up.

Six million dollars in pay and other crew entitlements; 13,486 haircuts; 473,000 cans of soda (and 1,211 cavities filled by the ship’s dental department); 8,250 immunizations; 4,480 sick-call patients.

One hundred and twenty-nine new personnel joined the ship while it was under way; 168 sailors re-enlisted. Two aircraft were lost; two lives were lost.

One more number etches itself into the minds of Kitty Hawk sailors: five.

That’s the number of days off the crew gets before being required to report back for work. On Monday, crewmembers must return and start prepping the ship for a months-long dry dock period that ship officials have called the most extensive ever for a forward-deployed carrier.

It will be a rare sight: an 80,000-ton aircraft carrier on blocks, completely out of the water. And it will be a grueling process, officials said, one not expected to end until October.

“We’ve heard that in the past in port, you’ve had to work 16-hour days, seven days a week,” the Kitty Hawk’s executive officer, Cmdr. Gary Peterson, said in a message to the crew. “We do not want that to happen this time. And if we stay on the work schedule, it will not.”

Among work to be done: cleaning the hull, working on the main engineering steam plant, repairing the ship’s infrastructure.

“As always with the steam plant, we have an enormous amount of work to do,” said commanding officer Capt. Thomas Parker. “We have an extremely complicated system on board the ship.”

The Kitty Hawk, he said, has eight boilers and four each propellers and catapults, which are also steam-powered.

The crew also will work on the watertight doors, decking, cableways and some vents and holding tanks.

“If you want to save money, owning an aircraft carrier is not the way to do it,” Parker joked. “These things are enormously capital-intensive to run.”

During the dry-dock period, the crew’s living quarters will be shifted from the ship to a series of berthing barges. Those vessels, including the Olympia, will be tied up at the pier where the Kitty Hawk normally sits while in port.

“That’s going to be home for the next little while,” said Command Master Chief Marvin Dublin. “We’re going to make this work as smooth as possible.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now