USS Gearing DD-710
2015 reunion,
Norfolk, Virginia.

Photos and captions
from Bill Latta (PC3 65-67)
"Norfolk harbor cruise aboard the MV Victory Rover"

6388 – We left the base to go on the highly anticipated Victory Rover Harbor Tour. Once onboard the Victory Rover tour boat, it took us out into Hampton Roads where we could go down the line of Navy piers to see all of the active duty Navy ships in port from the waterside—without any restrictions.

6390 – Photo of the Victory Rover moored dockside just before departing on the harbor tour.

6392 – Joan Witkowski, Maureen and Dan Donohue, and Bob Witkowski enjoy the sunshine and unexpectedly cool April harbor breeze.

6393 – Norfolk’s harbor is quite beautiful. Although constantly busy with Navy yard repair work and commercial shipping traffic, it is surprisingly clean and attractive.

6397B The American Rover, a three-masted schooner sits pier side as our harbor cruise boat departs and passes with the Norfolk skyline in the background.

6399 – A floating dry dock with the Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruiser, Vella Gulf (CLG 72) sitting high-and-dry for overhaul and repairs, is one of the first sites of interest we see on the harbor cruise.

6400 – The USS Vella Gulf (CLG 72), resting high-and-dry in a floating dry dock in Norfolk harbor, is of special interest to our tour group. The ship’s exterior radars and weapons systems are all “shrink wrapped” in plastic to protect their vital parts and components, creating a very odd shape for this warship.

6401 – The USS Vella Gulf (CLG 72) is an impressive size, especially when seen sitting high-and-dry in a floating dry dock in Norfolk Harbor. Tall cranes tower above, placing much needed parts and equipment for our nation’s security and defense.

6402 – As we passed the starboard side of the USS Vella Gulf (CLG 72) can be seen. The ship’s exterior radars and weapons systems have all been “shrink wrapped” in white plastic to protect vital parts and components from sandblasting, creating an odd shape for this magnificent warship.

6403 The next Navy vessel we pass during the Norfolk harbor tour is this unidentified Wasp Class (LHD) Amphibious Assault Ship. The plastic is used to contain dust when sandblasting the ship’s bow and super structure. Here, it creates an odd square-like shape over the bow of this large warship.

6407 – The USS Wisconsin (BB-64), now in the historic fleet, is on display in Norfolk harbor. Its massive hulk comes into view as we pass its stern and fantail on our Norfolk harbor tour.

6408 – Our tour boat passes directly astern to the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), showing us first-hand how wide the beam of this mighty battleship really is.

6410 – Our tour boat glides to the port quarter of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), giving us a glimpse down the port side.

6411 – Our tour boat turns to starboard for a better look of the USS Wisconsin’s port side and her resting triple 16” guns protruding from her aft gun mount.

6412 – Close-up view of the USS Wisconsin’s aft triple 16” gun mount on our harbor cruise boat passes along her port side.

6414 – Portside view during our harbor cruise of the long bow; forward 16” gun mounts; forward, portside 5” gun mount; bridge; and gun director of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64).

6416 – The harbor cruise boat glided along side to give us a close-up view of the extremely long bow and massive forward 16” gun mounts on the USS Wisconsin (Bb-64).

6425 – After passing the Wisconsin, our harbor tour took us past the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) docked pier-side for repairs.

6431 – In the distance, we could see Gantry cranes that appeared as giant sea birds, standing along the harbor’s edge.

6437 – We passed this two-masted sailboat to starboard on the Norfolk Harbor Tour.

6439 – The harbor tour took us out into Hampton Rhodes toward the rows of Navy piers and ships in the Active Fleet. Hampton Roads is known for its large military presence, ice-free harbor, shipyards, coal piers, and miles of waterfront property and beaches.

6440 – Lawrence Schongar seemed to enjoy the cool harbor breeze as the cruise continues toward the U.S. Navy piers.

6444 – We passed a large commercial container ship being offloaded at a nearby commercial port terminal.

6450 – The USS Mason (DDG) was the first Navy vessel to come into view as our harbor cruise tour moved down the line of active duty U.S. Navy active duty that were in port. Many ships home ported at Norfolk were out to sea.

6452 – The next Navy ship we passed was the SS Cape May (SS Cape May (T-AKR-5063). She is a heavy-lift SEABEE barge carrier, one of two ships of her type in the Military Sealift Command's Ready Reserve Force.

6456 – A few minutes later, we passed the Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer, USS Gravely (DDG-107).

6458 – Our cruise then came upon an unidentified Los Angeles Class (SSN) submarine with its conning tower covered with scaffolding for repairs.

6467 – On down the line of U.S. Navy Active Fleet ships is the Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer, USS Bainbridge (DDG-96). It is the fifth ship to carry that name. The Bainbridge made world news recently when she and her crew successfully rescued the captain of the U.S. flagged freighter, Maersk Alabama in a failed hijacking attempt by Somali pirates in April 2009.

6470 – A U.S. Air Force C-17 flew over during our harbor tour to land at the nearby airfield.

6473 – The Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer, USS Ramage (DDG-61) was tied up pier side as our tour boat slowly passed the rows of Navy piers.

6478 – A gigantic unidentified fleet oiler comes into view as our tour moves down the line of Active Fleet ships at Norfolk.

6479 – This unidentified fleet oiler was sat pier side as our tour passed. They seem to be much bigger than one remembers.

6481 – The next U.S. Navy ship we passed was the USS San Antonio (LPD-17), first in the San Antonio Class of Amphibious Transport Docks.

6487 – The newest and last, but certainly not least, Navy ship we saw on our tour was the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77), the tenth and final Nimitz Class supercarrier. She had just arrived in port the day before our tour. This colossus is over 3 ½ football fields in length and a ship’s complement of over 6,000 personnel.

6490 – Our tour pulled past for a front view of the bow, massive overhanging flight deck, and tower of the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77). She was the last Active Fleet Navy ship we saw during our harbor tour of Norfolk. She is tied up at the last pier in deep water where ships enter or head out to sea via Hampton Roads harbor.

6491 – Ray Bento takes in the sun on our return trip to dock during our harbor tour of Norfolk harbor.

6493 – Laurence Schongar (LTJG, 1963-65) and Frank Goetschius (LTJG, 1963-65) converse topside during the return trip on the Norfolk Harbor cruise. Kathy Schongar; Nancy Goetschius, wife of Frank Goetschius; Faye Latta, wife of Bill Latta (PC3, 1965-67); and Nancy Baker, wife of Kenneth Baker (ETN3, 1962-64) chat in the background.

6495 - Sheila and John Koller (GMG3, 1966-69) enjoy a peaceful moment and the Norfolk harbor scenery on our cruise of Norfolk Harbor at Hampton Roads.

6496 - During the return trip on the Norfolk Harbor tour, Charles Ankney (SN, 1957-59) listens to Ray Bento (GMSN, 1956-60) in conversation topside as Scott Coy (FN, 1952-54) looks on.

6498 – Our tour boat passes a harbor tugboat pushing a fully loaded dredge barge through the Norfolk harbor.

6500 – The Genco Explorer, a large commercial tanker, passes to port to our harbor tour boat as we make our return trip during the Norfolk Harbor cruise.

6503 – The tanker, Genco Explorer out of Hong Cong, china slips slowly out of port during our harbor cruise of Norfolk.

6505 – Bill and Faye Latta in front of the Mermaid sculpture, symbol of the city of Norfolk, following the harbor cruise.