Aircraft carrier Skipper visits Jefferson City

Captian Hermann Shalenski visited with state officials.

Sometimes, people from the heart of Missouri go out to sea to visit him.

Wednesday, he came to Missouri see them.

The captain of the the nuclear aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman passed through Jefferson City and stopped long enough to say "Hi" to the outgoing governor, the incoming governor and the Lion's Club.

The Truman is still the only navy vessel to bear the name of a Missouri favorite son.

Jefferson City businessman Sam Bushman is a member of the Navy League.

He often organizes promotional tours aboard the Truman, including the one KRCG News made in the summer of 2007, during a training cruise off the coast of Florida.

"It's hard to believe she's been commissioned for over ten years," Bushman noted during Captain Hermann Shelanski's visit to the capital city.

In 2007, we joined a group of central Missouri lawmakers and business people as they visited one of the true symbols of U.S. naval power: a ship as long as the Empire State Building is tall.

"It's 250 feet at its widest...over four and half acres of flight deck," Shelanski told Lion's Clube members during a luncheon.

Shelanski is winding up his stint as the Truman's skipper.

"My two and a half years are just about up," he told KRCG News. "But I do get to bring her out of the ship yards and get her underway one more time. It's really an honor to do that."

Right now, the Truman is docked at the navy yards in Norfolk, Va.

She's down for routine maintenance, following a nine-month deployment to the waters off Iraq.

The mission was primarily a show of muscle, a reminder to the enemy not to mess with U.S. forces on the ground there.

"It's essentially just flyin' low and fast by the bad guys, or in front of the good guys," the air group commander, Capt. Andy Lewis, told the Lion's Club members

The Truman sailors will use the down time to train and to repair the ship.

The senior staff takes advantage of the opportunity for promotional work.

This trip included a visit with Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, a US Naval Academy graduate who still wears his academy ring.

The group also dropped in to see Governori-elect Jay Nixon, who has never seen the Truman's flight deck and has put that on his to-do list

But it was Shelanski's presentation to the local Lion's Club that revealed the most about the navy's on-going mission to court public support.

"You all own the Harry S. Truman," he told the lunch crowd. "Its your ship as much as ours. We're the caretakers. And if you ever get a chance to come out, we would love to host you on board our ship."

The truman will remain in port until February. Her next deployment is scheduled for October if next year.

Shelanski says it could be a mission to Afghanistan. I t could be to patrol for pirates in the waters off Somalia.

In any case, it will be someone else's command.