USS MOUNT WHITNEY, at sea (NNS) -- Tiger Cruise participants arrived aboard the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) for an Oct. 9-11 trip from Tarragona, Spain, to the vessel's homeport of Gaeta, Italy.
Tiger Cruise participants received a welcome aboard folder upon arrival which included a welcome aboard letter, a schedule of events for the next two days and general information about life aboard the ship.
"The Tiger Cruise is an opportunity to show our friends and family exactly what we do and how we live," said Capt. Jeffrey Ruth, Mount Whitney commanding officer. "It is a great chance to show the pride we have both in our ship and in the Navy to those who might not understand the details of our way of life."
Shortly after Mount Whitney sailed into Mediterranean waters, Tiger Cruise participants were briefed on general safety and security procedures for the ship and received a basic overview covering the mission and history of Mount Whitney.
Later that afternoon, guests gathered at the bow of the ship and witnessed an air show by an MH-60S Helicopter hovering near the ship.
The following day, Mount Whitney Weapons Officer Lt. Lyon Ellison briefed Tiger Cruise participants prior to a "live fire exercise."
"The main point emphasized was safety," Ellison said. "Other points covered were basic operating procedures and capabilities of the .50 caliber machine gun."
Mount Whitney Gunner's Mates fired a .50 caliber Browning machine gun and a 25mm chain gun to demonstrate the proper handling of the weapons. Tiger Cruise participants were then given the opportunity to fire 10 rounds per person from two .50 caliber Browning machine guns.
"It was an exciting experience and I've been looking forward to this event since the cruise started," said said Erica Ruth, Tiger Cruise participant and the daughter Mount Whitney's commanding officer. "It made me a bit nervous to be in control of such a powerful weapon."
Ruth sponsored his wife, daughter and her friend who attended the Tiger Cruise to experience the life their sponsor lives daily.
During the course of the cruise, the Tiger Cruise committee sponsored several fun-filled activities including an ice cream social, Tiger bingo and movie night on the mess decks, providing Tiger Cruise participants the opportunity to relax after enjoying the events.
"I was excited to win 50 bucks during the last game of bingo," said Tammy Gorman, wife of Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Ryan Gorman. "I enjoyed this event, plus it gave all the Sailors time to unwind with their Tigers."
At the conclusion of the cruise, Tiger Cruise participants who completed their Honorary Surface Warrior Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS) were recognized during an awards ceremony. Awardees received certificates and a photo of themselves on the cruise in remembrance of their visit aboard Mount Whitney.
After Ruth thanked Tiger Cruise participants, he announced the Mount Whitney Blue Jacket, Junior Sailor and Senior Sailor of the Quarter.
"I felt ecstatic that I was selected for Junior Sailor of the Quarter," said Ship's Serviceman 2nd Class George Diaz. "I was living on edge not knowing if I was able to stay in the Navy. My Perform-to-Serve package was recently approved and being selected for JSOQ gives me a whole new outlook about the Navy."
Mount Whitney is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.