NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) left Hampton Roads Wednesday afternoon on a regularly scheduled deployment.
The strike group has nearly 6,000 sailors among seven ships and airwings and is expected to be gone for several months.
“Our sailors have known we’re deploying this time of the year for a while. We had the luxury of coming back from our final exercise at the end of October, having a month to get maintenance done and reset with our families,” said strike group commanding officer, Rear Adm. Curt Renshaw. “We made it a priority not just to get the readiness of the ships in high state but the opportunity to prepare themselves and family. It’s always tough this time of the year but we know what we signed up for when we took the oath. By us being out there over the holidays, it allows others to enjoy the holidays at peace.”
The last time the Truman deployed in 2019, sailors returned to a world turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renshaw says they’ve learned a lot more about COVID-19 since and will continue to practice mitigation efforts.
The crew is also almost 100% vaccinated. Renshaw says it makes him feel safer knowing if an outbreak did happen, they’re prepared.
“It won’t put an invidiual sailor’s health at risk or the ships at risk because we have to quarantine large numbers and battle through. We’ve learned in the Navy over the last couple of years how to manage,” he said.
BELOW: Chopper 10 flies over Truman.
The Navy has not said where the strike group is headed but Renshaw says they have to flexibility to help out in any theater.
And, they won’t be alone to provide that assistance.
The Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof-Nansen class frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) is also operating with the strike group as part of the Cooperative Deployment Program.
“The United States of America is our biggest and most important ally. So, it’s important for Norway to build our relationships and operability with our allies,” said Cmdr. Frode Makken, with the Norwegian Royal Navy.
Renshaw says it’s the first full deployment they’ve done with Norway but doesn’t expect it to be the last.
While heading off during the holidays isn’t ideal for families, the Truman’s commanding officer says being able to protect the country is an honor.
“There is a certain comradery and honor and privilege to stand watch and provide that for our nation during this holiday season,” said Capt. Gavin Duff.
Most of the ships in the strike group deployed from Naval Station Norfolk except the USS Jason Dunham, which deployed out of Florida.
Renshaw is commanding ships and aircraft of the strike group which include:
- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), commanded by Capt. Gavin Duff
- Nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1
- Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8
- Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56)
Capt. Todd Zenner is commanding guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28 which include:
- USS Cole (DDG 67)
- USS Bainbridge (DDG 96)
- USS Gravely (DDG 107)
- USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109)
Aboard the Truman, Capt. Matthew Barr is commanding the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 including:
- Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 “Red Rippers”
- VFA-211 “Fighting Checkmates”
- VFA-34 “Blue Blasters”
- VFA-81 “Sunliners”
- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 “Rooks”
- Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 “Seahawks”
- Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11 “Dragon Slayers”
- Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM)72 “Proud Warriors”
- As well as a a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides”