USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters visited aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), April 16.
UFC superstars Rich Franklin and Keith Jardine toured 'Big E' during the ship's 22nd and final deployment to meet U.S. Sailors and Marines, sign autographs and give a grappling demonstration.
While onboard, Jardine and Franklin enlisted the help of a Sailor and several Marines, assigned to the Thunderbolts of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251, during a demonstration of wrestling moves and jiu-jitsu techniques. They also answered questions from those observing in the crowd.
"These visits build morale," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Brandon Breitberg. "It's good to break up our high-tempo operational schedule every once in a while and watch a demonstration with two great fighters. It's also nice to see them interacting with Sailors and Marines."
After the demo, hundreds of crew members patiently waited in line as the fighters took photographs and signed autographs.
"It's really exciting for these particular fighters to have come to our ship," said Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Robert Gardner. "I have seen them on TV, but to be able to meet and interact with them is something entirely different."
After the autograph and photo session, Franklin and Jardine ate lunch with members of the ship's crew on the aft mess decks.
"You hear people say 'support your troops;' well, I come out and do things like this," said Rich Franklin, former UFC middleweight champion. "We enjoy coming out to visit ships, especially when these service members are deployed for so many months at a time."
The fighters also took a tour of Enterprise, making stops at flight deck control, primary flight control, the Enterprise Room, and observing flight operations.
"This is the least I can do, to come out here and show gratitude to the people that make it possible for me to do what I do on a daily basis," said Franklin to the service members. "I truly appreciate what you are doing out here and thank you."
Enterprise is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operation, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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