Roosevelt sailors made to feel at home in Naples port call
NAPLES, Italy — At the seventh hour of waiting, Laura Ingle started the pacing. For Laura, unlike her husband of six years, patience is not her strongest asset.
On Sunday, she left her Norfolk, Va., home and two children, one barely 2 months old, flew to Rome, and then took a two-hour train ride — all so that on Monday morning she could surprise her husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Ingle, as he came ashore in Naples for a port visit.
The hours dragged Monday as water taxi after water taxi showed up pierside, ferrying hundreds of sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt anchored about five miles out. Hour after hour, Kenneth Ingle didn’t show. Laura grew increasingly frustrated at the wasted hours — he on the ship and she alone on the pier.
Finally, clad in a yellow T-shirt and toting a sea bag of dirty laundry, Kenneth Ingle sauntered off a boat and slid into his wife’s eager embrace.
“I’m so happy you’re here,” he told her between kisses.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, its air wing and battle group deployed from Norfolk on Sept. 1 on their way to relieve the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Naval Support Activity Naples and its Morale, Welfare and Recreation office rolled out the red carpet for the Roosevelt sailors Monday for their first day of a weeklong port call — from fresh-cooked hamburgers and hot dogs waiting at the pier to transportation, organized tours, sporting activities and an Oktoberfest celebration at Carney Park.
The commercial firm of Multinational Logistic Services Ltd. provided everything from the barges that carried the sailors to shore to 15 buses, 30 cars and 40 cell phones to make their stay as comfortable as possible, said Carlo Greco, the company’s agent for Naples and Salerno.
“Their business is very important for us and for the city,” Greco said.
Beyond the roughly $200,000 a day the Navy is paying MLS for its services, there is the tourism money the sailors will bring to Naples, he said. If each of the roughly 5,000 sailors visiting from the carrier spends about $100, he said, “that would be a lot of money to help the city.”
Naples is the carrier’s second port city visit in the Mediterranean. Last week, the crew got a little rest and recuperation time in Palme de Mallorca, Spain.
Only the aircraft carrier, air wing and the Spanish frigate Alvaro de Bazan, which is traveling with the strike group, stopped in Naples for the port call. The entire strike group includes Carrier Air Wing 8 from Oceana, Va., the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto, guided-missile destroyers USS Oscar Austin and USS Donald Cook, and combat-logistics ships USNS Mount Baker and USNS Kanawha.
Where the sailors stopped wasn’t as important to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Johnson as the fact they get some relaxation time, he said.
“Free time off the boat, that’s all we want,” he said as he and friend Petty Officer 3rd Class Kristopher Long planned ahead for a trip to Rome in the next few days.