US Navy Carrier Operations Ramp Up


Three Carrier Strike Groups Now Deployed

By Christopher P. Cavas

WASHINGTON With the announcement today of the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and its strike group the US Navy has three deployed groups, more than in several years — a far cry from last summer when only one group was overseas and mid-2018 when no flattops were deployed.

USS Dwight D Eisenhower

The Eisenhower deployed from Norfolk while at sea concluding its final pre-deployment exercise. The Navy has not announced the carrier’s schedule but she is could operate under Sixth Fleet control under US European Command before heading to the Middle East.

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) is operating in the Mid East under Central Command, having deployed from Norfolk in November. USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is operating with the US 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific after deploying from San Diego in mid-January.

Additionally, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is working up on the west coast and will likely deploy in the spring.

That makes three of the Navy’s eleven carriers deployed with one more preparing to do so – 27 percent deployed, 36 percent if the Nimitz is counted. That’s against the average of 15 percent of the carrier force deployed since 2018 and the 22-to-25 percent figure since 2013, a figure calculated by USNI News in a report last September.

It also compares favorably to last summer, when only the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) was deployed, and to 2018, when no US Navy carrier was deployed for six weeks between July and August – an unprecedented situation in the years following the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.

USS Theodore Roosevelt

There is never a situation where all 11 carriers are ready to go. For one thing, there aren’t enough aircraft to fill out all eleven decks, since one ship is always in an extended refueling overhaul, lasting three to four years, while usually two others are in a year-long overhaul, and all carriers have periodic pier side maintenance periods.

The Navy has faced scathing criticism for readiness issues across the fleet, including surface ships, submarines and aircraft. The Atlantic Fleet has had a particularly acute problem with its aircraft carriers, with the Navy’s shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia coming under special scrutiny, failing over several overhauls to complete carrier work on time. The Eisenhower itself was scheduled to deploy in the fall of 2019 but was unable to meet that deadline as the shipyard work package missed goal after goal and the Truman was called on for a short turnaround deployment.

The Truman also missed its September departure date when an electrical power distribution problem sidelined the ship for three months, a situation that led the Navy to deploy its escorting cruiser and destroyers on time as a Surface Action Group rather than wait for the carrier.

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Recent US Navy carrier deployments, including the Carrier Air Wing (CVW):

HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) / CVW-1 deployed from Norfolk 11 April 2018 but returned 21 July 2018; remained in port until leaving again on 28 August 2018. Returned to Norfolk 16 Dec. 2018.

RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) / CVW-5 deployed from Yokosuka 29 May 2018; returned 24 July 2018. Left Yokosuka 14 Aug. 2018; returned mid-Dec. 2018.

JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) / CVW-9 deployed 15 Oct. 2018 from Bremerton; arrived at Norfolk 16 May 2019 (also homeport change for refueling overhaul).

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) / CVW-7 deployed 1 April 2019 from Norfolk. Returned to San Diego 20 Jan. 2020 after 295-day deployment (also homeport change after completing refueling overhaul).

RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) / CVW-5 deployed from Yokosuka 22 May 2019; returned 2 Nov. 2019.

HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) / CVW-1 deployed 24 Nov. 2019 (date announced) after COMPTUEX.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) / CVW-11 deployed 17 Jan. 2020 from San Diego.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) / CVW-3 deployed 20 Feb. 2020 from COMPTUEX.

NIMITZ (CVN 68) working up off the West Coast February 2020.

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Posted 20 Feb 2020


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