Thursday, July 27, 2006

The San Diego Chronicles - Day 5: REALLY In The Navy

Today, we took a tour of the San Diego harbor (specifically, the part that is overseen by the US NAVY) and an Aegis-class destroyer, the USS Preble.

[Editor's note: to find out more about how I ended up getting my students a tour of the harbor and an Aegis Class Destroyer, see here and here.]

I got in contact with a person who works on base at the Pacific Fleet Naval Base, and he set us up with the two tours. I got some help from the International House staff in setting up a rental van, complete with driver, to get us back and forth between the different areas we needed to go to.

Once classes finished in the morning, we all had some pizza for lunch before heading out. We went across the bay to Naval Base and got set up to take a harbor tour. The original plan was for all of us to go out on one of those big troop transport ships like you see in the beginning of "Saving Private Ryan", but since we were a small group, they took us out on a different boat.

Same idea...troop transport ship, but this one was a new model. There are only six of them in the entire US Navy, four on the West Coast and two on the East Coast. That's it. Six of 'em. And we got to go out on one. This thing has jet engines instead of propellers, so it is much more maneuverable. It can go up to fifty miles an hour, spin in a circle, move sideways, and lots of other fun stuff.

Which we got to experience.

They took us out into the harbor and showed us the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz, along with the USS Midway (decommissioned). They took us alongside the other side of the bay where all of the Navy ships were in port.

So we're all strapped in with life preservers on, and one of the crew members tells us that we're going to go out and do "some spins".


"When I tell you to hang on, HANG ON!"

Ummm...yes sir.

So the boat starts speeding up. We're literally flying along on the water. Then our guide tells us we're only going about half speed.




I tell everybody to grab onto the bars on their seats. We're barreling along, when...



The boat comes to an immediate stop, dips into the water a bit, and sends a huge wave splashing over all of us.

The kids were loving it. Hell, so was I.

One of the students says, "One more time!"


Laughter. These guys are having fun. Awesome.

Then we speed up again, and our guide says, "HOLD ON!"

This time, with the immediate stop, the boat does a 180 and sends a huge wave shooting off to the side.

The students' smiles are huge.

We do that two or three more times and then head back to port.

While the boat ride was fun, and seemed a lot like Splash Mountain or some other rollercoaster ride, this new transport ship has a lot of military advantages. The sudden stop/180 is an amazing development.

Next, we headed back across the bay to where the ships were in dock to take a tour of the USS Preble. We got the works. We toured the bridge, the bow of the ship (where I had to translate info about an huge cannon and the four types of missiles in the launching silos), and the war room.

That's right, the war room. The only place where no pictures were allowed.

We were told stuff like, "The person who sits here presses the buttons to launch the missiles you just saw."

And "I don't know what goes on there. Whenever we have war games, they shut the curtain and no one is allowed in or out."

Heavy duty stuff.

At the end of the day, we gave our guide a medallion of our high school as a token of our appreciation. He seemed really thrilled by it.

On the ride back to school, the students came to a realization.

"Sensei, that tour that we just took, that's not something that just anybody can come off the street and do, right?"

"That's right."

"So what we just did, that's a really rare experience?"


"Who got that set up for us?"

"You're looking at him."

"NO. WAY!"


"Thank you, Sensei!"

That felt damn good.

And just in case doing all of that cool stuff didn't make the day complete, that evening I went to the movies.

Nacho Libre.

"I was wondering if you would like to join me in my quarters this night...for some toast."


Funny flick, but it sure would have been nice if the family next to me would have done something to stop their kids from talking...THROUGH THE WHOLE MOVIE. Arrrgh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, I would like to have done that. You are my hero.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 12:48:00 AM  

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