The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) hosted two professional tennis players while underway, Dec. 5-6.
Olympian Coco Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers visited the ship during a distinguished visitor (DV)- routine tours intended to grant influential civilians and other dignitaries the opportunity to experience a Sailor’s life and show them the day-to-day operations onboard naval vessels during an overnight visit.
Vandeweghe was a member of the 2016 Rio U.S. Olympic team. She played with the American Fed Cup Team, won two WTA titles and was a mixed doubles finalist at the U.S. Open and Australian Open.
Rogers, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, reached the quarterfinals of the French Open this year.
The tennis players made their arrival onboard Nimitz via an arrested landing on the flight deck in a C-2A Greyhound from the Providers of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, an experience few Sailors onboard even get to experience.
“The landing was different than I had expected,” said Rogers. “When we actually hit down it was fine and similar to a commercial flight. It was when we actually came to a complete stop on a dime that it took my breath away. It was a lot of fun.”
Vandeweghe and Rogers got the opportunity to meet and greet with Rear Adm. Bill D. Byrne, commander, Carrier Strike Group 11, Capt. John C. Ring, Nimitz’ commanding officer, and interact with Sailors throughout the ship.
“It’s invigorating to meet people like the Sailors on board and see what they do on a daily basis,” said Vandeweghe. “They sacrifice a lot to come out here and serve our country. I can relate to that in certain ways with what I give up for my sport and career, but it is still different and eye opening for me. It’s motivating.”
The tour included watching flight operations from the flight deck and bridge before getting the chance to see the foc’sle, jet shop, ordnance control, and medical and dental spaces. This allowed them to see a majority of the ship’s functions and how everything works together.
“It’s been unreal,” said Vandeweghe. “Some of the stuff I’ve seen is hard to even describe, I was watching some of the videos I took on the flight deck and even that doesn’t even put it into context how intense it actually is.”
They also got to experience a meal in the ward room, chief’s mess and enlisted mess decks to give them a complete perspective of life onboard from every rank.
“There is a lot more of the little details than I expected,” said Rogers. “Just seeing how everything is so intertwined and how it works so perfectly together every day is awesome. I’ve loved interacting with everyone and feeling like I was a part of the crew.”
Nimitz is currently underway conducting Tailored Ship’s Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP), which evaluates the crew on their performance during training drills and real-world scenarios.
Once Nimitz completes TSTA/FEP they will begin Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) and Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for an upcoming 2017 deployment.
PO2 (SW/AW) Holly Herline