Friday, July 06, 2007

The Yanks are HERE!

Yep, ventured into the city last night. Did the green thing and caught the city bus, travelled through the bridge gridlock due to a train derailement that caused traffic havoc and walked the windy streets from city East to West towards the Opera House (God I love that building). On the way, the city seemed to be swarming with suits and busy-busy office workers on their way home - all wearing black - which made me swear that however unlikely, if I ever worked in the city, I'd wear a red coat and stand out like an ageing version of that little girl in Schindler's List.

Anyway, I digress. There seemed a disproportionate amount of rather young, strangely dressed, well trimmed men in groups of six or eight milling through the historic Rocks area obviously out for a good time. Yep, the US Kitty Hawk is one of four US visiting warships but the only aircraft carrier among them and it is in town. It's amazing. I never cease to surprise and slightly disappoint myself that I'm so impressed with weapons of mass destruction. I love an air show finale when the F-18 do a fuel dump and fly by. I love big things, especially when they're lit up and shiny (oooh shiny things . . .*gravitates towards them like a Christmas Beetle to a light bulb*).

This ship is mammoth, 7,000 personnel on board, it is supposed to inject $2 million a day into the Sydney economy. Woolooomooloo residents are mightily pissed off because their roads have been closed to accommodate the thousands of visitors who can go on board for just 10 buckaroos.

In an embarrassing bungle by the State Government apparently jeopardised the security of the visiting US warships by posting sensitive details on the internet. The arrival date, times and berthing details of the USS Kitty Hawk, USS Cowpens, USS Juneau and USS Tortuga were published by the Sydney Ports Corporation, despite requests from the US to keep the information secret. I think that's a joke, how do you keep 3 acres of aircraft carrier a secret? Ah well, serves them right for asking us to join the Coalition of the 'do we really have to - we only joined the military to get a trade' Willing.

Anyway, it's a great piece of machinery and I'm impressed. It's the ultimate big boy's/girl's toy.

So for the technical here are it's specs:
displacement: 80,800 tons
length: 1,047½ feet
beam: 129 feet 4 inches; extreme width: 252 feet
draft: 37 feet
speed: 35 knots
complement: 4,582 permanent crew
armament: Sea Sparrow launchers, 3 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts
class: Kitty Hawk
facilities: 5 gymnasiums, 3 mess halls
built: Philadelphia shipyard 1961
fuel: Deisel

What's to keep secret?

So Sydney, stash away your vegemite, warm up your pies, chill your beer (real beer not that American diluted slop), break out the stuffed Koalas, lock up your daughters, dispense your condoms and say 'ello sailor'. She's in port for the next four days.


b3n said...

I remember when, I think it was the Enterprise or the JFK or one of the other carriers, was moored off Dublin a few years ago and town was full of white suited US sailors for a weekend. The big news was that an extra 5 000 escorts flew in from various parts of Europe to keep up the demand. Randy Sailors!

Baino said...

G'day (yes we really do say it) Nice of you to drop in B3N. This lot are doing CHARITY work if the news is to be believed. I think times have changed (well maybe)

Anonymous said...

I was 17 when the JFK harboured in DunLaoighaire. Being far too innocent at the time, I fear I didn't take full advantage of the situation. I and 3 other excitable teenagers brought one poor chap for a tour around the town. He was a sweetie! Man, that uniform did it for me. His vessell was pretty impressive too. It was HUGE! I was amazed when he told me that people land aircraft on it. Not many people can boast about that.