Thousands of sailors due in Port Townsend

By Patrick J. Sullivan of the Leader
Posted 1/6/15

UPDATE: Crew from the Stennis will be in Port Townsend through Thursday, Jan. 15, according to the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Sailors will be in town from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. Monday, …

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Thousands of sailors due in Port Townsend

Posted

UPDATE: Crew from the Stennis will be in Port Townsend through Thursday, Jan. 15, according to the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Sailors will be in town from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then will be around from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, according to Visitor Information Center Manager Lorna Mann. Many sailors' families are also expected to drive up from Bremerton.

"The positively overwhelming reaction has been very nice and exciting," Mann said Friday. Mann said volunteers are excited and there's a buzz about the sailors coming to town.

Mann has been surveying the city looking for businesses to stay open and she said a number of businesses are doing just that. One restaurant that normally is closed on Monday plans to open and have extended hours, events director Laura Brackenridge said.

Expect about 1,000 U.S. Navy sailors to visit Port Townsend each day next Monday through Wednesday, Jan. 12-14, from an aircraft carrier expected at Naval Magazine Indian Island.

Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Port Townsend Main Street and City of Port Townsend representatives met with Navy representatives Jan. 6. The USS John C. Stennis has a crew of about 3,200, and the Navy intends to grant liberty to about a third of them on each of three days. The "supercarrier" is expected at Indian Island on Jan. 12 and could depart Jan. 15. She is homeported at Bremerton.

"The Navy was concerned that we would be flooded with sailors and they would fill up the town with a thousand people, and we said, we're used to having festival weekends with thousands of people here," said Christina Pivarnik, the city's marketing coordinator.

Publicity efforts are being made to contact every restaurant and bar or pub in the city, especially those with television screens. Monday, Jan. 12 brings the NCAA college football championship game between Oregon and Ohio State, certainly to draw sailors' interest.

"We're encouraging our businesses to stay open late on those days, and urging restaurants and bars to stock up to make sure they can handle extra customers," Pivarnik said Tuesday afternoon.

It is common for personnel from ships visiting Indian Island, the Navy's primary ordnance storage and handling station on the West Coast, to be bussed into PT for short visits. It is not usual, however, for an aircraft carrier to be in Port Townsend Bay, especially for a visit long enough to send sailors on shore liberty.

"During the aircraft carrier’s time at NAVMAG Indian Island, ship and base personnel will be conducting operations at the Indian Island ammunition wharf," Liane Nakahara, Navy public affairs officer, told the Leader Tuesday afternoon. "While the ship’s crew is trying to maximize their short amount of time at the pier to load ammunition and conduct training on board the ship, they do also plan to spend some time off base in the Port Townsend area."

This is the sixth aircraft carrier visit to Indian Island since 2000. The Navy does not announce exactly when a ship is due to arrive or depart a specific location.

For more news from USS Stennis, visit facebook.com/stennis74.

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