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Day: October 4, 2011

A cruise to remember

Chad Sjothun and his father Lee. Lee explains “It was real cool, a great experience for the two of us. We spent a lot of time together and he got to show me his life in the Navy up close and personal.”

Keizerite Lee Sjothun took a week-long cruise he’ll never forget.

The real estate developer spent a week aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, the aircraft carrier his son Chad, 21, works on in his U.S. Navy post. They sailed into port at San Diego September 9.

Sjothun was on a “tiger cruise,” where family members of Naval personnel on ship can hop aboard if there’s a vacancy. He slept where sailors slept, ate what they ate and mopped what they mopped.

A few anecdotes about the journey:

• Reveille (morning call) was at 6 a.m., Sjothun had a cup of Starbucks coffee in hand at 6:30 a.m. every day.

“The Navy personnel man it voluntarily on their own time,” Sjothun said. “I was chatting about how the (cafeteria) coffee wasn’t great. A guy said I should go to Starbucks. I laughed it off but a couple other people mentioned it, so I went and found it.”

• While he wasn’t put to work, Sjothun was expected to keep up his bunk just like a sailor – make that bed, sweep that floor and pick up that trash.

• The USS Reagan’s top deck is about 4.5 acres large. At full capacity the ships holds about 6,000 sailors. It cost $4.5 billion to build. It has seven workout gyms. The trip cost Sjothun $85, just enough to reimburse the Navy for cost of food. Surgeons aboard performed about 90 operations during an eight-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, many of which were appendectomies. Thanks to an onboard catapult, jets can go from zero to 175 miles per hour in two seconds. Jets can take off 15 seconds apart.

• The tiger cruisers aren’t working, but they have to have some physical endurance. There’s almost no staircases, just ladders. “It’s actually quite physical,” he said.

• The ship can travel as fast as 30 knots per hour, but actual speed is classified.

Chad Sjothun mans the rail in Pearl Harbor as the ship passes the USS Arizona Memorial. “We got the best tour you could never buy – a slow cruise,” dad Lee said. “While we were underway one of the officers gave an audio description of every memorial in Pearl Harbor.”