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March 30, 2013 at 7:57 PM

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Saying goodbye to the USS Nimitz as it sets off for deployment


BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Kinsi Gregson, above, puts up a signal that means "I love you" in sign language to her husband, Karlton Gregson, deploying on the USS Nimitz from Naval Station Everett on Saturday. The couple is from Southern California originally and have a 1-year-old son, Kade.After a couple of delays, the Nimitz is now off with approximately 3,000 enlisted sailors and officers on board to San Diego to complete a certification exercise. There, they will be joined by 2,000 more troops, Carrier Air Wing 11, for deployment in the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf for six to 10 months. This is the first major deployment from Everett, the ship's home port. Commissioned in 1975, the Nimitz is the oldest operating Navy aircraft carrier.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Julie Witham helps her son Aiden, 6, pick out his dad, Michael, on the deck of the USS Nimitz, before it deployed from Naval Station Everett. The Withams are originally from Winter Haven, Florida and it was Michael's first deployment.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Rear Admiral Michael S. White, commander of the Nimitz Strike Group, gets a goodbye kiss from his wife Marietta White of Lake Stevens before the USS Nimitz deployed from Naval Station Everett Saturday. She has been through ten deployments and said it was easier when their children, who are all grown now, were younger and at home. "Now I'm all alone again, it's a little bit different," she said.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The USS Nimitz is now off with approximately 3,000 enlisted sailors and officers on board to San Diego to complete a certification exercise. There, they will be joined by 2,000 more troops, Carrier Air Wing 11, for deployment in the western Pacific and Persian Gulf for six to ten months.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

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Heading toward North Korea, hopefully MORE

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