USS Kitty Hawk crew left in flux as plans paused
June 4, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — USS Kitty Hawk will continue to conduct flight operations, and the aircraft carrier will go to Guam for a few days in mid-June.
Beyond that, Kitty Hawk’s schedule is in flux, while the aircraft carrier USS George Washington awaits the results of a fire-damage assessment in San Diego.
"As you know, there have been and will be changes to our schedule in the coming weeks," the Kitty Hawk’s commanding officer Capt. Todd Zecchin said on the ship’s Web site.
The 47-year-old Kitty Hawk left Yokosuka last Wednesday amid cheering crowds, as the Navy’s oldest active-duty warship was headed to Hawaii to trade places with the USS George Washington and then steam to its final destination of Bremerton, Wash., for decommissioning.
But a May 22 fire aboard the George Washington, which lasted several hours, left some sailors with minor injuries and damaged several spaces on the ship.
The extent of the damage isn’t known yet, but Navy officials confirmed last week that the swap-out between the two carriers would not happen according to plans. That swap out was to begin Monday.
As the George Washington undergoes damage assessment, Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Scott Gureck said last Friday that the question of which carrier would participate in Hawaii’s upcoming Rim of the Pacific exercise would be clear after the assessment is completed next week.
On the Kitty Hawk’s Web site, Zecchin also thanked the crew for "patience and understanding," as the changes alter summer plans for sailors and their families.
"We understand that many of you may have made plans to be in Hawaii or were planning on having loved ones attend our San Diego events," he said. "After we know more of where and when we will be, we will take a good hard look at ways to have those celebrations in order to honor Kitty Hawk and her crew."
It wasn’t known how many families booked rooms in Hawaii for the hull swap, as families made their own reservations, ship spokesman Lt. Bill Clinton said.
Clinton said the Navy will not reimburse individuals for hotel reservations.