A new record has been set by “Ike”, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), and it’s escort ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56). As of June 25, 2020 they have been continuously at sea for 161 days, the longest deployment ever for the U.S. Navy.
On January 17 both ships left their homeport of Norfolk, VA for the strike group’s Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) with a follow-on deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.
Continuous days under way are not specifically tracked by the Naval History and Heritage Command. Although these are two modern documented days-at-sea records that have now been broken.
During the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) operated for 152 days consecutively underway. In February 2002, the Ike operated for 160 days straight, supporting a post 9/11 response.
“Our ships remain undeterred in the face of adversity and this monumental feat will only make our crews and the Navy stronger,” said Capt. Kyle Higgins, Ike’s commanding officer. “I’m so proud of the young men and women I see on the deck plates each and every day. Their dedication to the mission is what makes our Navy the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen.”
The ships and their accompanying carrier strike group ships have remained at sea to minimize the crew’s exposure to the Corona Virus. Both the Eisenhower and the Jacinto have maintained mission readiness and effectiveness despite any restrictions related to the virus.
“In March, I suspended liberty port visits to reduce the chance of spreading and contracting the virus across the Fleet. Throughout this pandemic, maintaining the Fleet’s warfighting readiness while ensuring the safety and well-being of our Sailors has been my top priority,” said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime.
To keep the morale of the crews high, the ships have had “rest & reset” periods at sea, coming off-station for a short period of time, allowing the crew time to relax and reenergize with events such as swim calls and steel beach picnics.
“San Jacinto and Eisenhower have proven their ability to remain a flexible, adaptable and persistent force while staying on station in the Arabian Sea. Both crews have been resupplying and refueling, performing repairs and upkeep, and maintaining overall readiness while continuously at sea. The two ships have spent the last five months conducting operations and exercises with foreign partners, other U.S. service branches, and U.S Navy ships in the region,” said Capt. Edward Crossman, commanding officer of San Jacinto.
All deployments bring challenges, and record-breaking deployments are no exception. These experiences bond Sailors together and create shared memories that will last a lifetime.
“We’ve made it this far and I’m incredibly proud of the crew for all their hard work,” said Crossman. “The fact of the matter is our work isn’t done. We aren’t headed home yet, and we’re on path to blow the previous record out of the water. The San Jacinto Gunslingers are the most motivated, professional Sailors I have ever served with.”
Both the Ike and San Jacinto remain at sea and are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation. They are supporting naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region. They are connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints for the free flow of global commerce.
“Ike and San Jacinto, along with the rest of the Ike CSG, have continued to stand the watch in this critical region of the world, conducting routine operations and maintaining constant readiness and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Malloy.
An interesting fact, the first USS San Jacinto was also underway during a yellow fever epidemic during the Civil War. On May 5, 1862, under the orders of President Lincoln, San Jacinto and other union warships bombarded Sewell’s Point, Virginia. On August 1, 1862, it was reported that yellow fever had broken out on the ship, so San Jacinto sailed north, laid anchor, and quarantined for four months.