It’s not everyday you get an invitation from United States Ambassador Harry Thomas. It was a bit surreal — both being handed an invitation from his office and being invited to board a nuclear powered supercarrier.
The boarding after the jump!
The USS George Washington supercarrier (CVN-73) is powered by two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors. It can hold about 80 aircraft composed of F-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, anti sub helicopters and an array of other weapons that bring the total cost of the carrier alone to over USD $4.5 billion. The USS George Washington is also an ideal venue for a mean cocktail party.
The ship has been docked about 35 minutes away from Manila Bay since September 4 with the 5,000++ strong crew participating in goodwill and community service missions by refurbishing classrooms around the metro in partnership with USAID. What’s equally interesting is how Mall of Asia and Baywalk really prepared for the arrival of the navy men and women by setting up PLDT booths to phone home and having welcome signs all over the establishments.
The carrier is HUGE! The only other large vessel I’ve been on was the Costa Romantica, a luxury cruise ship that bore the finer things in life like espresso machines, a shopping mall and bars. The George Washington had none of this. Instead, it boasted 4.5 acres of runway, two surface to air missile launchers, and two 20mm Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) anti-ship gatling guns. But tonight the carrier also had three cocktail bars and a roast beef station.
The highlight of the entire evening was the back and forth ride on the elevator of Hangar 3 which took delegates from the hangar to the flight deck. I can imagine how planes would be rolled in and elevated to the flight deck with military clockwork in case something happened.
I was gladly surprised that they let us take photos of everything. If you think about it, controlling a couple of hundred people on the hangar would be a logistics nightmare so everything they wanted us to see — they put out on display, from planes to choppers to the navy memorabilia such as the ship’s bell (a boon for divers in the very far future).
On the flight deck were several F-18 Hornets and EA-6B Prowlers. And a cocktail bar.
The Spirit of Freedom is a very big cake:
This is a video compilation of my trip aboard:
Oh and guess who we met: Miss Venus Raj!
Parting Shot: The Spirit of Freedom
If you want to be updated with the events of the US Embassy, you can check out the following links: