Families struggle with long deployments of aircraft carrier crews

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Families of sailors and Marines serving on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower are using Facebook to express frustration over their loved ones’ long deployment in the Middle East.

“I think this is terrible. We are in the groove, ready for it to be over … I don’t want a redeployment in the spring. Months of worrying about being nervous about the looming deployment all over again,” one relative wrote on the Eisenhower’s Facebook page.

“Keep IKE home!!! Don’t let Ike sailors and Marines suffer for the [USS] Nimitz lack of time control … find a relief ship to take Ike’s spot in the Middle East and give Ike and her crew the break they deserve,” wrote another.

The Eisenhower had been scheduled to return to the U.S. from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East early this year and be relieved by the Nimitz.

But in late November, the Navy announced that repairs on the Nimitz would not be completed until this summer. So the Eisenhower returned in late December and will deploy again to the Middle East in February — a two-month turnaround. Crews usually have at least six months between deployments.

“My hubby got 20 days (not consecutive) with our son before the June departure and now he’s gonna get to see his first Christmas but only to miss his first words, first steps and first birthday. I’m just blah. …” one wife of a Eisenhower crew member wrote.

The Washington Times reported Thursday that aircraft carrier crews can expect long deployments because of continuing strife in the Middle East and a shortage of carriers available for duty.

Last month’s deactivation of the USS Enterprise and the ongoing four-year overhaul of the USS Abraham Lincoln have shrunk the Navy’s carrier fleet from 11 to nine.

Meanwhile, the Navy is struggling to keep two carriers in the Middle East, as required by the Obama administration since 2010. Currently, only one carrier — the USS John C. Stennis — is patrolling the region.

Carrier deployments have lengthened from six months to as long as nine months.

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