Carrier USS Lincoln Headed For San Diego After Record Deployment
The carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is on pace for a record-breaking deployment.
The ship is slowly making its way to its new home port in San Diego, after leaving Norfolk, Virginia on April 1. The carrier was scheduled to go around the world, eventually ending up in its new home port of San Diego. But it had a lengthy task along the way.
In May, the Lincoln was rushed to the Middle East, to counter what the White House saw as an escalation of tensions with Iran. The Lincoln’s potential relief, the USS Truman was sidelined with electrical problems that kept it in Norfolk.
Early Tuesday morning, Captain Walt Slaughter was reached by KPBS via radio, from somewhere in the Philippine Sea. He said the ship is slowly making its way toward their new home port of San Diego.
“We certainly stayed quite a bit longer than we planned but that’s OK," he said. "I think everyone realized the importance of our mission in promoting maritime security in a very unstable part of the world.”
Since 2016, the Navy has been pushed to keep deployments under 7 months, citing the strain on the crew and their families. The previous post-Cold War record for the longest deployment by a U.S. carrier is 290 days, which is actually held by the USS Lincoln. Passing the 9 month mark this week, the same 30-year-old carrier will surpass that, Slaughter said.
“We’re going to break that record,” Slaughter said. “Not sure how many people on board are excited to break that record.”
The Lincoln carries a crew of roughly 3,200, not counting the air wing. Families have been left to decide when to move to the West Coast. Roughly 70 percent of the families have already relocated to San Diego, anticipating the Lincoln’s arrival, said Gina Swain, Navy wife and ombudsman for the USS Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln’s captain acknowledged the potential strain
“We expected to be home for the holidays and weren’t,” Slaughter said. “And that’s a little bit of added impact. But families are our biggest strength. We rely on their support as much as anything to keep us going out here and they’ve been absolutely great.”
The commander of the Lincoln said he’s limited in what he can say about what happened in the last year or about when they will appear in San Diego. The Lincoln spent six months in the Northern Arabian Sea. The carrier’s air wing participated in 392 sorties over Afghanistan and later Syria. As they left the Middle East, they were trailed by a group of Iranian Naval vessels. In July, the carrier lost a sailor who went overboard.
The Lincoln was part of a home port swap for three U.S. carriers, which included home port changes the carriers Carl Vinson and John C. Stennis.