ATLANTIC OCEAN (WAVY) – USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, has finally taken to the waters off the Atlantic after years of refueling and modernization.
The strike group, including its flagship carrier, left Naval Station Norfolk on January 25.
“We just got underway Friday, got underway early as we normally do,” said Captain Putnam H. Browne, undeterred by the rough weather of the first few days. He saw the wet conditions as a blessing in disguise. “The weather’s not cooperating, but in many respects that is a cooperation so that helps training for the full spectrum of flight operations.”
Onboard is a crew with a wide range of experience. “Many of our sailors have been on the ship for about four years now and have never been on deployment,” said Capt. Browne. “They haven’t been to another port inside or outside of the United States.”
The Lincoln, and its accompanying strike group are prepping for their Spring deployment, participating in a Composite Training Unit Exercise, or COMPTUEX.
The strike group, ABECSG is comprised of its flagship, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 2: the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94).
Rear Admiral John Wade explained the importance of the exercise, “Comptuex is about 30 days or about a month. It starts out integrating all the forces, communicating, doing different drills. Yesterday we were performing live fire events.”
Worth noting is the Spanish frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104) that is joining the group for the exercise. Leadership sees its addition as an opportunity to increase cohesion between the partner nations.
After a long time on pier the Lincoln will finally be able to put its new systems to good use. “The whole aircraft carrier went into the shipyard and for several years they refueled the aircraft carrier, and while they were there all the sensors and the weapon systems were upgraded and modernized…that is to ensure they have the latest capabilities so we can evolve and iterate to threats that are global,” explained RADM Wade. “Abraham Lincoln is a west coast ship but she came to the east coast to conduct her reactor overhaul which will allow her to maintain service for the next 25 years.”
Capt. Browne is happy to see the ship back in one piece after the long down time, “So the on pier is quite amazing; the ship is broken down to just a steel hulk. And to put it all together, and then come out of the shipyard the ship looks beautiful today.”
The flight deck of the Lincoln is finally let loose, and its crew taking to task what they signed up for.
“They enlisted in the Navy to do one thing and they ended up doing firewatch or sweeping which is a needed thing. Now we’re actually out there doing what they came in the Navy for, which is exciting,” said Capt. Browne.
RADM Wade added, “This is what we volunteered for, an opportunity to serve our country and to make a difference.”