After 10 Months at Sea, a Giant Carrier Returns to a Changed Nation
ABOARD U.S.S. NIMITZ, off California — When this aircraft carrier and its city-size crew departed Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash., on April 27, George Floyd was still alive.
Donald J. Trump was still president, Georgia had two Republican senators, and some 56,000 people in the United States had died of the coronavirus.
Now, 10 months later, the nuclear-powered warship is returning home to a country vastly different from the one it left. That difference was highlighted on Thursday when the new defense secretary — for the first time, an African-American — landed aboard to talk to a travel-weary and isolated crew.
“Secretary of defense in combat!” came the announcement.
Lloyd J. Austin III, his baritone ringing through the ship’s public-address system, told the sailors and…