PORT TOWNSEND — Kate Krusely held tightly onto a leash attached to her dog, Cash.
“Daddy’s coming home,” she said.
She turned around and grinned.
“I haven’t been able to say that to him in weeks,” Krusely said.
Cash started to wiggle with anticipation, and Krusely repeatedly checked her phone for incoming text messages from her husband, U.S. Navy Lt. Julian Krusely, who was aboard one of several buses that was carrying sailors on Tuesday from the USS Nimitz to the Chamber of Jefferson County.
The Nimitz, which is making a port call in Port Townsend this week, is projected to stay through Thursday at Naval Magazine Indian Island, chamber Executive Director Arlene Alen said.
When Julian texted he was seven minutes away, Kate got excited.
Then a bus pulled up, and Julian stepped off into Kate’s open arms. After a long kiss, Julian bent down to say hello to Cash, too.
Kate, originally from Milwaukee, Wis., had counted 39 days since she last saw Julian, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.
They recently moved into a house in Gig Harbor, although Julian only got to spend five days there before he sailed on the Nimitz to San Diego, Calif.
While the Kruselys expected to take two months off, other sailors were expecting to be back on the Nimitz before the end of the week.
Up to 1,000 sailors — about 10 percent of the population — could be in the city and surrounding areas of East Jefferson County at any given time, Alen said.
They included best friends Dasia Gray and Anahi Rosales, both sailors, who got reacquainted after they had been apart for two months, as Gray was aboard the Nimitz.
Dennis VanLeeuwen met up with his wife, Brittany, and his daughter, Harper, outside of the chamber building on Jefferson Street.
“The potential for positive impact on our economy with 1,500-plus people visiting us in three days is huge, especially during a quieter winter weather mid-week period,” Alen said.
“They anticipated possible 500-bed nights in the city during this period, which would be fabulous for our accommodations.”
Alen said Port Townsend has about 700 beds, including airbnbs.
The Nimitz anticipates rotating six buses from Naval Magazine Indian Island to the chamber office throughout the three-day stop. Buses will run from 10:30 a.m. to midnight each day, Alen said.
Sailors’ family members will be able to meet them at the chamber or at other locations within the city, she added.
The Navy anticipates providing a 56-passenger bus that will leave the chamber parking lot and make round trips to the 7 Cedars Casino near Sequim during the same time frame, Alen said.
In addition, a 26-passenger mini bus may be used for a route around downtown Port Townsend beginning at 1o:30 a.m. each day, she added.
Buses will be on a circuit with stops every 20 to 30 minutes, Alen said.
The Nimitz is a nuclear-powered multi-mission supercarrier first commissioned in 1975. Its original homeport was at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia until 1987, when it was relocated to Bremerton.
It also has had homeports at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego and Naval Station Everett, where it was stationed from 2012-14.
The Nimitz returned to Naval Station Kitsap in Bremerton in 2015.
Led by commanding officer Capt. Max Clark, the Nimitz is nearly 1,092 feet long and 252 feet wide. The area of its flight deck is about 4 1/2 acres.
The carrier has four main engines with two nuclear power plants and can travel at 30-plus knots, and it has a load displacement of about 97,000 tons.
The Nimitz can accommodate about 5,000 sailors and Marines and sustains them with between 18,000-20,000 meals a day.
For more history and information about the Nimitz, visit www.tinyurl.com/PDN-Nimitz.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].