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Japanese media had an opportunity to see the USS Kitty Hawk up close from Drydock No. 6 in Yokosuka Naval Base Wednesday. With the overhaul period almost complete the Kitty Hawk will leave the drydock and return to berth 8 Saturday.

Japanese media had an opportunity to see the USS Kitty Hawk up close from Drydock No. 6 in Yokosuka Naval Base Wednesday. With the overhaul period almost complete the Kitty Hawk will leave the drydock and return to berth 8 Saturday. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — White hard hats jutted from foreheads.

Cameras were slung around necks and tripods hoisted over shoulders.

Several score of international journalists Wednesday accepted the U.S. Navy’s offer to get up close and personal with one of the Pacific’s most immense war machines — the USS Kitty Hawk.

Their reaction: It’s big. Really big.

“And very expensive,” said Xinhua News Agency correspondent Zhang Huan Li from Beijing, as his colleague busily snapped photographs of an American journalist interviewing him. “Everything must cost so much.”

A fact sheet supplied by public affairs officers at Yokosuka — the Kitty Hawk’s home port — confirms it:

The aircraft carrier’s annual payroll is $145 million.

And when the air wing is aboard, swelling the Kitty Hawk’s population to 5,500, the ship serves 17,000 meals a day. That takes a lot of bread — 9,000 loaves every 24 hours.

The international journalists were led eight floors down to the bottom of Dry Dock 6.

As they stared up at the 201 feet of ship ordinarily above the water line, they seemed riveted most by the carrier’s sheer bulk.

As Junya Ishimaru of the Yokohama branch of Jiji Press Ltd. was leaving the dry-dock area, he glanced back toward the one of the carrier’s two, 30-ton anchors, each attached to a 1,080-foot chain, each link of which tips the scales at 360 pounds.

“The size,” he said, shaking his head very slightly. “Just the size.”


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