NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Thousands of sailors with the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group deployed from Norfolk on Monday.
U.S. Navy officials said the strike group’s flagship, the Nimitz-class carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), will change its homeport from Naval Station Norfolk to San Diego during the deployment.
10 On Your Side was aboard the Lincoln earlier this year as sailors geared up for the spring deployment, putting upgraded and modernized weapon systems to the test.
Capt. Putnam H. Browne said, “Many of our sailors have been on the ship for about four years now and have never been on deployment.”
With its upcoming westward move, the Lincoln will rejoin the Pacific fleet, where it served from 1990-2011 after being commissioned in 1989. The USS John C. Stennis will homeport in Norfolk for its midlife refueling.
Rear Adm. John Wade said earlier this year, “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.”
The April deployment will also include sailors aboard several other ships, including the guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Mason (DDG 87), and USS Nitze (DDG 94); the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55); and the Spanish frigate ESPS Mendez Nunez (F 104).
Navy leaders told 10 On Your Side they see the addition of the Nunez as an opportunity to increase cohesion between the partner nations.
Nine squadrons from Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7) will also deploy, as well as the staffs of Carrier Strike Group Twelve (CSG 12) and Destroyer Squadron Two (DESRON 2).
Megan Appel was in that group holding a sign for her husband, rescue swimmer Carl Appel.
“This is why he’s here, is to make his parents, his family, me, to make us proud of him and were so happy for him and we know he’ll do a great job,” Appel said.
Her husband is one of thousands of sailors of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike group that left Monday.
“This ship has been here for 7 years and we completely refueled the ship got all new maintenance done got the ship ready for its second half of life and were getting ready to go on our first deployment,” said Captain Putnam Browne.
Rear Admiral John Wade spoke about what sailors will be doing on deployment.
“What were going to be doing on deployment is really deterring conflict and ensuing conditions for peace and stability around the world,” said Rear Adm. Wade.
While these sailors are leaving, another ship will soon be coming here to Hampton Roads.
“As our Navy continues to evolve, John C Stennis Strike Group, the John C Stennis Carrier will return here to the Hampton Roads area and go through the same thing Abe did,” Wade said.
We’re told that for about 60 to 70% of the sailors, it’s their first deployment so there’s a lot of excitement on board.