JEBEL ALI, United Arab Emirates (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) departed Jebel Ali, Sept. 4, successfully completing its fifth port visit of a seven-month deployment.
The port visit marked the first time George H.W. Bush has moored in the United Arab Emirates. For the more than 4,400 Sailors from the ship, embarked Carrier Air Wing 8, and the Carrier Strike Group 2 and Destroyer Squadron 22 staffs, it was a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and attractions.
Nearly 2,000 Sailors purchased more than 2,400 sponsored tour tickets from the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) services program for events including sandboarding, riding four-wheelers in the desert, visiting the famous sports-car museum Ferrari World, and touring the city of Dubai.
"Everything here has unique architecture that you just don't see in other places," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Derek London, assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124, during his tour of Dubai. London and other Sailors visited the Spice Souk and Gold Souk, enjoyed an Arabian dhow cruise on Dubai Creek, and toured the Dubai Historical Museum.
Away from the city, Sailors explored the outlying deserts via camel-back and air-conditioned sport utility vehicles.
"I can't believe I rode a camel," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman (AW) Rebeca S. Garcia, from Air Department's V-5 Division. "Being in the Arabian Desert was overwhelming."
Other Sailors ventured out to sandboard in the desert dunes. Some experienced a roller coaster-like ride in a modified four-wheel vehicle which carried them across the sands, sometimes at angles approaching 45 degrees.
"After being on a ship for four months, that ride was awesome," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Richard W. Miller, from Combat Systems Department.
George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.