USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Norfolk, Va.-based nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) concluded the seventh port visit of its current six-month deployment and first in nearly two months when the ship departed Jebel Ali Oct. 23.
While in Jebel Ali, crew members took the opportunity to see the sights of the nearby city of Dubai by taking advantage of several tours sponsored by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).
More than 1,600 Sailors and Marines purchased MWR-sponsored tours, enjoying exotic outdoor activities from sand-boarding to camel-back riding and taking in the beauty of the city. Another 300 crew members decided to take the opportunity to spend the night away from the ship by purchasing hotel rooms also arranged by the ship's MWR.
"The 4x4 dune ride was my favorite part of the tour," said Seaman Alex Tull, of medical department. "I've never done anything like that before; now I have a whole new appreciation for seatbelts. It was definitely an experience I will never forget."
One of the most popular tours was the Sunset Safari, with 540 tickets sold. Sailors and Marines rode in an all-terrain vehicle through the dunes to a typical Bedouin campsite and experienced a traditional Arabic culture of dress, food and music. The tour also included a brief camel ride, and the opportunity for a traditional henna tattoo.
"I liked it a lot," said Lt. Amy Bryer of dental department. "The four-wheel drive through the dunes was like being on a dirt bike, but safer. I got to stop and take pictures of the sunset."
The port visit wasn't all play and no work, however. During the five-day visit, Enterprise's crew served as ambassadors, opening its brows to more than 100 visitors for ship tours, including the U.S. Consul General Paul Stuphin and his staff.
Also while in port, ship's force repainted hangar bay one and the island. Contractors were also hired for $350,000 to paint the outside hull of the ship while in Jebel Ali. Just more than 1,900 gallons of paint were used during the evolution. Maintenance Department also reported completing 75 lagging jobs in an effort to make the ship look its best for Enterprise's return to her homeport of Norfolk.
Enterprise is currently deployed with Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, USS Nicholas (FFG 47), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55). More than 5,500 Sailors and Marines are deployed aboard Enterprise and its attached units.
Enterprise departed its homeport in Norfolk May 2 and is currently operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
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