NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and the USS San Jacinto missile cruiser pulled into their homeport of Norfolk on Sunday after seven months at sea.
The ships are part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which operated in the 5th and 6th fleet.
“We were out protecting the global commons, making sure that our adversaries and near pier competitors didn’t dominate the seas,” said Capt. Kyle Higgins, the Eisenhower’s commanding officer. “We dominated the seas.”
Sailors assigned to the Eisenhower and San Jacinto transited to the equator and Navy officials said they participated in a unique crossing the line ceremony, becoming the Navy’s first ‘Iron Shellbacks’ — meaning they’ve been at sea for more than 100 days.
The ships traveled 60,000 nautical miles at sea while the world on land changed.
The ships left in January of this year, before the coronavirus outbreak began in the U.S.
“It’ll sink in when everybody finally gets out on the pier and out in town and they realize that folks are wearing masks and they’re social distancing,” Higgins said.
They docked at Naval Station Norfolk and will begin their journey in our new normal.
Navy officials said they already have safety measures in place for the next time ships will need to depart, in order to keep everyone safe in the midst of the pandemic.
“It’s going to be a very long process. It’s a different process,” Higgins said. “It’s not convenient, it’s not supposed to be convenient. It’s supposed to be deliberate so we can all stay healthy and we’re able to do our job.”
Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) and USS Truxtun (DDG 103) are scheduled to return to Norfolk on Monday, August 10, the Navy says. The USS Stout (DDG 55) will remain on deployment and return to Norfolk at a future date.
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