BREMERTON, Wash. - (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and Naval Base Kitsap hosted a 'Night Before' party for Sailors' friends and family members at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton, May 2.
John C. Stennis is scheduled to return home to her homeport of Bremerton, Wash., May 3 following an eight-month deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer Capt. Pete Dawson welcomed the family and friends of John C. Stennis Sailors and paid tribute to the ship his base calls its own.
"There's nothing like a homecoming for a ship returning from sea from an arduous deployment," said Dawson, to a rousing round of cheers from the crowd. "This homecoming is special because Stennis is our ship, Stennis is Bremerton's ship, Stennis is Kitsap county's ship; and we love our ship!"
Dawson then introduced Adm. Cecil Haney, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, who addressed the hundreds of guests in attendance and donned a USS John C. Stennis ship's ballcap.
"Thank you so much for your dedication and service and letting the Sailors do the work they have been doing not just for this eight-and-a-half month deployment, but for the 17-and-a-half months of deployment out of the last 22," said Haney. "They couldn't do the remarkable work they did ... without the love and support of the people in this room."
Haney had the opportunity to visit the ship while operating off the coast of Hawaii, where the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters is based.
"Whether I talked to folks that worked the catapults, the engine room, the flight deck, the pilots ... what a professional outfit that has worked so remarkably to do what our nation has asked them to do. Thank you for your dedication in allowing them to do their job so wonderfully."
Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent also expressed her gratitude to the family members of John C. Stennis, and thanked them for their support. She also presented Haney with a key to the city of Bremerton.
Carmen Boos, President of the ship's Family Readiness Group, put into context the joy of the ship returning home to friends and family.
"I think is everyone is really excited for the ship to come home tomorrow, especially from the second of back-to-back deployments," she said.
"I think it's been rough on a lot of families, but they've made it through and they're ready for the ship to come home," said Boos, whose husband Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW/SS) Steve Boos is the Food Services Leading Chief aboard Stennis.
At the event, there were activities for everyone, including welcome home sign-making stations, a bounce house, indoor tennis court and free bowling for the guests.