The USS Abraham Lincoln’s deployment has been extended for an unspecified amount of time as the aircraft carrier that was supposed to take its place has been stuck in Norfolk undergoing repairs.
The Lincoln and its strike group left Norfolk in April. Its replacement is supposed to be the Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman.
But the Truman hasn’t been able to deploy because of electrical problems the Navy first identified in August.
“Repair efforts are proceeding to restore the ship to its full capability, and all efforts are being made to deploy the carrier and air wing as soon as possible,” Second Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Marycate Walsh said in an email Monday.
In September, the other ships in the Truman’s strike group deployed without their carrier, creating what the Navy calls a “surface action group.” Those ships have been operating somewhere in the Sixth Fleet’s area of responsibility, which includes the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
Meanwhile, tensions in the Middle East have escalated since oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked last month. The United States, France, Germany and Great Britain all blamed Iran for the attack.
In response, the Defense Department authorized sending two fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing and missile-defense systems to Saudi Arabia.
The Lincoln — which will end its deployment in its new home port of San Diego — was operating in the Arabian Sea as recently as Thursday, according to public Navy photographs.
Routine deployments are supposed to last about seven months, which means the Lincoln was expected to arrive in San Diego around Halloween.
But in a video directed toward the families of crew members that was posted on the Lincoln’s Facebook page Saturday, the ship’s commanding officer announced that the carrier’s deployment is being extended and he’s working to get a firm schedule for when they’ll be able to come home.
“I’ve always told the crew that world events are going to have a vote in our schedule, and a couple days ago they voted and we’re going to have to stay here just a little bit longer,” said Capt. Walter Slaughter, the Lincoln’s commanding officer.
“I know that’s not the news that everybody wanted hear, but we’re tough as individuals, we’re even tougher as a crew, and with your continued support we’ll get through this as well.”
Other ships in the Lincoln’s strike group include the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Mason and USS Nitze.