PERSIAN GULF (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) celebrated the Navy's 242nd birthday Oct. 13, in the Persian Gulf.

In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized the Navy-wide recognition and celebration of Oct. 13 as the Navy's Birthday.

Nimitz celebrated the day with a special meal including steak and lobster. The meal concluded with a cake cutting ceremony and a performance from the ship's honor guard. Later in the evening a live concert was held on the flight deck.

This year's celebration felt all the more special to the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, due to the fact they have spent more than 260 days out to sea over the past year. Nimitz and its crew went underway for Sea Trials Oct. 5, 2016, and has been underway for the majority of the time since preparing for their current deployment that started June 1, 2017.

"It's a very special time to celebrate it for us," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Auralia Bellecourt, from Bemidji, Minnesota, "Although people are at home celebrating, we are out on deployment right now, and that makes it unique for us. It is inspiring to spend this time with the captain as we finish out our time at sea strong."

The day came to a close with a live musical performance by the band 'Jared and the Mill' on the flight deck. The band played original indie-rock songs in front of the lit up '68' under the starlit sky. The concert started at about 8 p.m., and lasted until around 9:30 p.m.

"It was really cool to feel like we were a part of something with so much tradition tied to it - to be a part of the Navy's 242nd birthday," said Jared Kolesar, lead singer of 'Jared and the Mill' from Phoenix. "It was very cool to be able to do something for people who do so much for us."

The performance helped the crew relax and take a break from the normal routine of deployment and enjoy themselves.

"The music was pretty awesome, definitely a great way to celebrate an important day," said Electrician's Mate 3rd Class William Penuel, from McHenry, Illinois.

Capt. Kevin P. Lenox, commanding officer of Nimitz, made it clear that though today was a celebration, it is also a reminder of the importance of the Navy.

"Nobody knows where history is going to flow," said Lenox "But we do know the United States Navy is going to be a part of it, because you can't fight without the Navy."

Nimitz is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While in this region, the ship and strike group are conducting maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation, and maintain the free flow of commerce.

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