ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE, At sea (NNS) -- The officers and crew of USS Enterprise (Big E) (CVN 65) concluded an eventful four-day port visit to Portsmouth, England, when the ship raised the anchor shortly before noon July 6, heading to sea for more training as part of exercise Summer Pulse '04.
While in the U.K., Big E Sailors had the opportunity to experience culture both past and present.
Portsmouth is the resting place for HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world, which is now a floating museum attracting thousands of tourists each year, including Enterprise Command Master Chief (SS) Robin Spelman.
"It is an awesome ship, especially when you consider it was built in the 1750s. I was surprised by the amount of room on the decks," said Spelman. Because a tour of the Victory was free to any U.S. Navy Sailor presenting a valid military ID, "you couldn't beat the price," Spelman added.
In honor of Portsmouth's mayoral inauguration, Big E's gospel choir was invited to perform at the reception at Portsmouth Cathedral. Airman Vanea Pharr of executive department is a member of the choir and was grateful for the opportunity to sing.
"It was interesting because we are a gospel choir and the cathedral is Anglican, but there was so much unity," Pharr said. "It was a great experience. We had 14 singers, our musical director and five musicians."
For those seeking a more modern liberty experience, many Sailors flocked to England's capital for all the sights the city has to offer.
In addition Trafalgar Square, the Crown Jewels, Tower Bridge, and Westminster Abbey, Sailors rode the London Eye, enjoyed local clubs and restaurants, and shopped. London's expansive underground transit system, commonly referred to as "the tube," was a relatively inexpensive way to get around.
Sailors took in renowned attractions, from the chilling - a walking tour of Jack the Ripper's haunts - to the culturally enlightening - a performance of "Les Miserables."
Big E Fit Boss Barry Joseph was very enthusiastic about the musical.
"I'm not much of a theatre person, but I was thoroughly impressed," said Joseph. "The theatre in London had incredible acoustics, and you could feel the performers projecting their voices."
With a refreshing port visit behind them, Enterprise officers and crew are back at sea and focusing on the next task for Summer Pulse '04. Enterprise is scheduled to participate in its third multinational exercise of the deployment, Majestic Eagle, in the weeks ahead.
Summer Pulse 2004 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups, demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters with other U.S., allied and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan.
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm or visit the Summer Pulse '04 Navy NewsStand site at www.news.navy.mil/local/pulse04.
For related news, visit the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn65.