|USS Essex is pushed to the dock by two tugs, just compare the size of the ship to the crusie ship docked right next to it.|
|Looks like a Aircraft Carrier but it's Not.|
|The Admiral is starting to like touring these ships.|
|Get Out of the Way!|
|The Admiral Surprising comfortable hanging out here.|
|All you have to do to see the Blue Angels is to just be outside anywhere Seattle.|
|I'm glad they had pics since most of these craft were not loaded on board yet.|
|Just two were in the Bay for viewing.|
|This was the Admirals tour guide, I think he did a little better job than the guide I had.|
|There were two huge refrigeration units being repaired behind this flag and the men working on them were not happy.|
|The Amphibious vehicles are deployed from this huge aft deck.|
|This ramp goes from the Hanger deck to the flight deck.|
|Not part of the tour but I ducked in here just to get a pic of this very long pass through that appeared to run the full length of the ship?.|
|Amazing amount of space on the flight deck. Aft looking Forward.|
|Forward Looking Aft.|
|Standing on one of the two flight elevators looking Forward.|
|The guide I had said some of these craft were at the end of their usable life and needed to be replaced.|
|Kinda of like a transformer, folds back to make it much more compact on deck and on the hanger deck.|
|Lots going on here on the Bridge deck.|
|We had to do a self tour of the bridge|
|After touring the Howard I at least knew what I was looking at.|
|Flight Deck Control Tower|
|Arrived back in our little condo just in time to get this pic.|
USS Essex LHD 2 at Seafair
The Essex was the largest of the Military ships displayed and giving tours during Fleetweek. After touring the Canadian ship and The USS Howard I was sure this would be the most impressive. What I thought was a Aircraft Carrier I learned was WASSP Class Amphibious Assault ship. The crew include 1,200 Navy and 1,800 marines. It was obvious though that most of the crew had not made the trip from San Diego to Seattle for Seafair. I learned from our guide that the ship had just come out of Dry dock and this was her first trip since a lot of repairs. while I waited almost two hours in line to board I watched as van after van of Navy and Marines were dropped off and boarded along with their gear. The Atmosphere and mood among the crew was very different from what I experienced on the USS Howard.
Our guide was a Petty Officer 3rd Class. She said she was just recently assigned to the Essex and she did not seem very happy about it. I asked her about the ships mission and what they would be doing after they left Seattle, She said they would go back to San Diego and spend another year just completing repairs to the ship. I asked her if they would be fully staffed when they left Seattle and she said yes but they would need a lot more to get this ship back into shape. She mentioned that the Budget Sequester had delayed things and thought that perhaps the current military budget prevented the ship from just being replaced with a new one. I told her I sensed a different mood among the crew and she said non of the officers are happy about being here, and I stopped my questions at that point and only imagined that if you were an officer in the Military sitting at dock for a year was not the sort of assignment anyone in the military would wish for themselves. I was able to talk to her since she did not really do a tour, she just led us to the different areas of the ship that we were allowed to visit and sort of stood there while everyone sort of did a self tour taking pics, perhaps since she was new she didn't know anything about the ship either?
Our fist stop was on the Hanger deck, There were two huge refrigeration units about the size of a 18 wheel truck trailer. Not sure if they were for Air conditioning or some kind of remote refrigeration but there were several men frantically working on the units and you could tell from the way they were communicating with each other that they were not happy. The rest of the tour we encountered lots of crew that were not at all part of the ship on display with 100's of visitors boarding it was a strange mix of civilians just kind of wondering around and the crew completely engaged in just preparing the ship to depart Seattle the next day. You could just tell that the ship was well worn and a close look at all the exposed electrical, cables, and plumbing looked like a nightmare to me. So I wondered if all the crew boarding would spend the next several months completing the work that was not finished when the boat was in Dry Dock?
The pamplet that we received when we boarded stated that in September of 2012 the Essex Began a $200 million, 18 month extended Drydock planned Maintenance , the largest Non Carrier planned maintenance in navel History including modernization in many systems. It continued to say the Essex is currently conducting work-ups in Preparation for a 2015 deployment.
From Wikipedia I found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Essex_(LHD-2)