CVN-75 USS Harry S. Truman
Visits UK Shores

Nigel R. Sadler reports on the visit of CVN-75 to Stokes Bay, Portsmouth 8th May 2003 

 Anchoring in Stokes Bay, Portsmouth on 6th  May 2003 was the 8th "Nimitz Class" Nuclear Aircraft carrier CVN-75 USS Harry S. Truman named after the 33rd  President of the United States of America.

 The ship was returning to her homeport of Norfolk VA. The HST has departed her homeport on 5th December 2002 after completing her COMPUTEX and JTFEX.

 During her 6 months at sea she had made port calls to Marseille/France (23 Dec), Crete/Greece (30 Dec) and Koper/Slovenia (31 Jan) prior to her involvement in Operation "Iraqi Freedom" the war to free the Iraqi people from the grip of the evil dictator Saddam Hussein commencing on 19 Mch 2003. After continuous operations and after the fall of Baghdad the ship was ordered home to Norfolk on 22 Apl and as she headed home for a well earned rest for the crew.

 The visit to Portsmouth was a low key affair, she anchored on 6/5 for the 6 day visit finally departing for home at 07:00 on 12/5. She was due to arrive in Norfolk on 23/5 some 6 months since deployment.

   

 Whilst anchored the ships crew seconded the usual tour boats to ensure as many as possible managed to get some time ashore after such a long ordeal, the crew had been at sea non stop for 3 months.  As every US Navy ship is dry whilst at sea one could understand the need for refreshment and relaxation after being involved in such an important operation. Security was extremely tight, certainly times have changes since 911, the usual open invites to enthusiasts and the like being shunned  because the crew had been under the watchful eye of the press for so long. It was with great pleasure that a minority of people (ANA) were invited to visit the ship, which included yours truly.
HST Battlegroup:-

 

 CG 56      USS San Jacinto

 DDG 79   USS Oscar Austin

 DDG 57   USS Mitscher

 DDG 75   USS Donald Cook

 DD 977   USS Briscoe

 DD 989   USS Deyo

 FFG 53    USS Hawes

 SSN 720 USS Pittsburgh

 SSN 765 USS Montpelier

 TAO 196 USNS Kanawha

 TAE 34   USNS Mount Baker

Picture Gallery...
 Having passed through various levels of high security we finally boarded the boat to take us out to the ship, a nice calm day meant an enjoyable transit, prior to docking with the pontoon aft  of the ship for embarkation. We were greeted by the CPO who proceeded to introduce our "guides" for the day, and we were split into two parties.

  Unfortunately for the enthusiasts ashore the hanger decks remained closed. The tour took us around   the flight deck from bow to stern we were able to photograph every jet on the deck, apart from a brief interlude when the crew were engine testing an F/A-18C. Some of the squadrons wore mission marks, and others names (see serial section). having spent an hour photographing the flight deck it was time to vacate the deck as there was an incoming H-53 in two minutes, our guide commented that on the deck was not the place to be with one of these helios running you would need to find something to hold onto, so we rapidly departed to Vultures Row to photograph the deck from a more elevated position and watch the awesome helicopter land and unload. It was now time to descent the deck to the hanger , of note as we went down flight after flight was the "Give Em Hell" logo on the floor at the foot of each stairway, and the numerous paintings of HST each one different on most decks. Once on the hanger deck we were introduced to the Harry S. Truman shrine, an absolutely amazing room dedicated to the ships namesake, in here were artefacts including one of Harry Truman's uniforms, a letter signed by him to authorize the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in WWII and various cuttings depicting the history of the President. Also of interest was the fact the Eagles now pointed out on the US crest lit up on the floor something that HST had changed to indicate peace not war.

 We then migrated to the hanger deck where 3 aircraft were in prominent display following the previous nights hanger party, the ceiling was decorated with multiple flags. At the stern end of the hanger deck there were a number of aircraft in various states of repair, included unfortunately the CAG SH-60. A full list of serials and details of mission markings noted can be found at  HST_Airwing

Of further interest the USS Winston Churchill was dry docked during the visit (from the Theodore Roosevelt BG) with a prop problem, she had two SH-60's aboard which remained intact during her visit although not yet identified.


The author would like to thank Alan Carr, RADM P.D.Smith, Zip Rausa and our guides on the ship for their kind hospitality during our visit.


More can be found about this amazing ship at their website:-

http://www.navy.mil/homepages/cvn75/