SPLIT, Croatia (NNS) -- In the spirit of strengthening emerging national partnerships, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the "Big E," made its first port visit in its current six-month deployment May 17 with a stop in Split, Croatia.
Nearly 5,000 Sailors and Marines from Enterprise and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 descended on the city for a four-day port visit and a little rest and relaxation after a two-week transit across the Atlantic Ocean.
The ship will also host a Medal of Honor ceremony May 18 for the late Chief Watertender Peter Tomich. Adm. Henry G. Ulrich III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, will present the Medal of Honor to retired Lt. Col. Srecko Herceg, a relative of Tomich.
Tomich, a first-generation Croatian immigrant, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. After USS Utah (BB 31) was torpedoed by Japanese forces Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Tomich remained behind in the engineering plant to ensure all boilers were secured while instructing all other fireroom personnel to evacuate, thus sacrificing his own life.
"It is an honor to make Split our first port visit of this deployment," said Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. Lawrence Rice. "We are looking forward to furthering an already growing partnership with our Croatian counterparts. We are also honored to be participating in several events while we're here, especially hosting the Medal of Honor ceremony for Chief Peter Tomich."
The crew will also have the opportunity to visit many historical sites of the country during the visit. The ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department has arranged several tours for the Sailors. Sailors will have the opportunity to donate their time by participating in community relations projects throughout the city, as well.
"The crew is really happy to be anchored off such a beautiful city," added Rice. "Our Sailors are anticipating going out and getting to know the people and leaving an indelible impression in our role as American ambassadors."
Enterprise departed her homeport in Norfolk, Va., May 2. Big E is operating in the Mediterranean Sea along with the rest of Carrier Strike Group 12 in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
For related news, visit the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.