by Saifulbahri Ismail¬†
The United States aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis is sailing home after making its final foreign port of call in Singapore.
It made a four-day stopover at Changi Naval Base earlier this week.
Here, the crew did volunteer work, and participated in games.
The US believes such interaction is important in promoting goodwill and strengthening relations between the two countries.}
The USS Stennis was in Singapore to replenish supplies after its deployment in the Middle East.
It took part in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, and conducted missions in Afghanistan.
Lieutenant Ken Beyda is the pilot of an F18 Super Hornet fighter jet:
“We’ve flown supporting missions for Afghanistan, so that’s primarily what we did this whole deployment, just supporting the troops on the ground.”¬†
The ship has been at sea for some seven months now.
It has been a long deployment for the some 5,000 crew.
Lieutenant Katherine Shepherd, the pilot of an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter looks forward to be home in early May:
“It has been tough being away from friends and family. This is the second Christmas that I’ve missed unfortunately. But, you’re out here, you’re part of a bigger cause. You’re working to contribute and to ensure that your family back home will continue to have the freedom to enjoy those holidays.”¬†
The 100,000 tonne nuclear powered ship has the unique ability to circle the world without refuelling.
It carries 70 aircraft to conduct sustained combat air operations.
The presence of aircraft carriers like the USS Stennis is significant in a dispute-ridden region.
Captain John Wood is the Defence and Naval Attache at the Embassy of the United States of America in Singapore:
“Of course a carrier battle group respond to any contingency possible, tsunami, a volcano in Indonesia, we’d be here in the humanitarian role, or if there was perhaps a flare up, a conflict, we can provide stability to show that we are here and we are prepared to do what we need to do.”
As the USS Stennis leaves, Singapore will welcome the arrival of the first littoral combat ship USS Freedom from the United States later this month.