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Matt Mayner and his 6-year-old son Gabriel wait patiently as the hulking USS Kitty Hawk is eased pierside. The number one question on Gabriel’s mind – where’s Mommy?
Matt Mayner and his 6-year-old son Gabriel wait patiently as the hulking USS Kitty Hawk is eased pierside. The number one question on Gabriel’s mind – where’s Mommy? (Chris Fowler / S&S)
Matt Mayner and his 6-year-old son Gabriel wait patiently as the hulking USS Kitty Hawk is eased pierside. The number one question on Gabriel’s mind – where’s Mommy?
Matt Mayner and his 6-year-old son Gabriel wait patiently as the hulking USS Kitty Hawk is eased pierside. The number one question on Gabriel’s mind – where’s Mommy? (Chris Fowler / S&S)
One hand on a cell phone, the other waving to his family, a sailor combines a ship built in the 1960s with today’s cellular technology to get back to the ones he loves as quickly as possible.
One hand on a cell phone, the other waving to his family, a sailor combines a ship built in the 1960s with today’s cellular technology to get back to the ones he loves as quickly as possible. (Chris Fowler / S&S)
Rear Adm. Rick Wren, left, Commander Task Force 70, and Kitty Hawk’s commanding officer, Todd Zecchin, lauded the crew’s many achievements and answered questions about the ill-fated Hong Kong port visit.
Rear Adm. Rick Wren, left, Commander Task Force 70, and Kitty Hawk’s commanding officer, Todd Zecchin, lauded the crew’s many achievements and answered questions about the ill-fated Hong Kong port visit. (Chris Fowler / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Kitty Hawk returned to Yokosuka on Tuesday under cloudy skies and a storm of controversy over China’s decision to deny the aircraft carrier and its escorts port entry to Hong Kong.

On the pier, Commander Task Force 70 Rear Adm. Rick Wren, described the crew’s disappointment.

“Sailors are a very flexible lot,” he said. “But in this case, we had about 290 family members on the ground in Hong Kong, so it was a bit disappointing.”

While China eventually reversed its decision, it was too late, Wren said, adding that inclement weather prevented any of the ships from pulling into port.

“The government of China may have said no, but Mother Nature said absolutely not — it’s time to go, guys,” Wren said. “We were running real hard to avoid the weather.”

Adding to the disappointment was the fact that the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department had reserved blocks of discount-priced hotel rooms for its sailors.

When port of call was officially scrapped, the ship canceled the rooms, leaving many family members without a reservation and saddled with paying the full price for those rooms.

Diana Salansky, the wife of Kitty Hawk’s administration officer, said between airline tickets and her hotel room, she paid almost $2,500.

“And it would have been worth it if my husband were there with me,” Salansky said.

According to Kitty Hawk commanding officer Capt. Todd Zecchin, the ship’s MWR department is working to identify crewmembers whose families were left without reservations and had to pay full price.

“We are trying to figure out how to help them recoup some of the losses they incurred,” Zecchin said.

Injecting a bit of humor into the situation, Wren told reporters wryly, “We can go anywhere at a moment’s notice — except Hong Kong.”

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