‘Big E’ ports in Jebel Ali

24 Sep 2007 | Cpl. John Jackson

ABOARD THE USS ENTERPRISE – Marines and sailors currently deployed on the USS Enterprise had the opportunity for a few days of rest and relaxation, Sept. 20–24.

The “Big E” made its second port call of its current deployment in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. This was the crew’s first port visit since leaving Cannes, France, July 27.

“The best part of the port was seeing land,” said Cpl. Aaron Harmon, an avionics Marine for the Thunderbolts of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251. “You really don’t know that you miss it that much'til it’s gone. Once you catch a glimpse of land, it’s automatic excitement.”

Making a port call in Jebel Ali allowed the crew of the Enterprise to easily access the city of Dubai as well as the local desert.

“I haven’t been to Dubai since 1998,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Nakamura, a quality assurance and explosives safety sailor for the Sidewinders of Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 86. “It was amazing to see how westernized the city has become since the last time I was there.”

The ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office offered several different tours and activities for the Marines and sailors to do while in port. Several crewmembers took advantage of these MWR-sponsored tours, which included sand boarding, golfing, sunset safaris and other local activities.

“I went (All-Terrain Vehicle) riding through sand dunes, went sand boarding for about an hour and got to eat some traditional Arabic food,” said Pfc. Pablo Abad, an administration clerk for the Thunderbolts. “It was an awesome sunset safari. It was definitely worth the 35 dollars.”

While in port, one thing Marines and sailors had to be aware of was Ramadan. During the port visit, the Islamic religious observance was taking place and made for some extra rules and regulations.

“Observing Ramadan was a little difficult,” Harmon said. “It was hard to go the whole day without eating or drinking (in public). Plus we had to wear pants out in town in the 100-plus degree temperatures. Overall though, it wasn’t that bad.”

The Enterprise got back underway Sept. 24 to continue their primary mission of supporting troops currently engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although leaving port was hard for the service members, the visit was enjoyed by all, Nakamura said.

“It was definitely a well deserved break from the day-to-day operations of shipboard life,” Nakamura said. “It felt great to be able to get a few days of space from the 5,000 plus people and not have to worry about anything.”

“We all got to recharge our batteries and get ready for the second half of this deployment,” Harmon said.