By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis
The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) hosted families and friends during a scheduled transit from Augusta Bay, Italy to the flagship’s forward-deployed homeport of Gaeta, Italy, April 17-19, 2019.
More than 28 family members and friends of the crew embarked the ship for a two-day tiger cruise. While aboard, tigers had the opportunity to see what Sailors do while underway and to experience life at sea on a warship.
“It was great seeing what my son does at work,” said Paul Cannata, the father of Information Technician System 2nd Class John Cannata. “I am so glad I was able to visit him and see what his life is like aboard the ship!”
In addition to shadowing their sponsor Sailor, tigers were able to participate in an abandon ship drill, demonstrations, view an underway replenishment, and experience various Morale, Welfare, and Recreation-sponsored events typical throughout a Sailor’s deployment, like watching movies, a Steel Beach picnic, and participating in a Bingo game night on the mess decks.
“It was really cool showing my dad around the ship and explaining what I do at work,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Carolyn Dunham.
“This was my dad’s first time on a Navy warship out at sea, and these opportunities do not happen very often so I’m happy he was able to come," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Sarah Floyd. "It was definitely something he will remember forever and helped him appreciate what we do out here!”
Tiger cruises are a tradition in the Navy that allows the general public an opportunity to experience what Sailors do each day.
“Inviting our families and friends aboard for a short embark improves crew morale and also helps us show our loved ones what we do when we aren’t at home,” said Capt. G. Robert Aguilar, commanding officer of Mount Whitney. “I’m proud of the hard work and dedication I see in my Sailors, and I know they enjoyed the opportunity to show off their ship.”
Mount Whitney, forward-deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security, and stability in Europe and Africa.