Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) alongside USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) providing Iron Ike’s crew a “fireworks” barrage from her embarked guns in honor of Independence Day. While short of the famed “death blossom” possible with a VLS-equipped Aegis ship, it is nonetheless remarkable.
While the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) recently made headlines with their extended 56,000 nautical mile-deployment where it was safe(er) from COVID-19, and only returned home after the eponymous Nimitz-class carrier and her primary cruiser escort, USS Normandy (CG 60), away from their homeports for over 270 days– nine months– it should be pointed that not all of that was spent underway.
From Carrier Group TEN:
As of June 25, 2020, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) and its escort ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), have been continuously at sea for 161 days, setting a new record for the U.S. Navy.
Both ships departed their homeport of Norfolk, Va., on Jan. 17, for the strike group’s Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and follow-on deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.
Although Naval History and Heritage Command does not specifically track continuous days underway for naval vessels, it has two modern documented days-at-sea records, both of which are now broken.
In Feb. 2002, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) operated for 160 days straight in support of post-9/11 response. And it was again, Ike, who held the record of 152 days consecutively underway during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.
The ships made over 32 UNREPS, flew over 8,000 sorties and logged more than 40,000 miles underway
Not a bad accomplishment, especially when you consider that Ike is 42 years young, commissioned 18 October 1977, and the Pascagoula-built San Jac is 32, commissioned 23 January 1988.
While of course, Ike is a huge carrier, a floating city in all respects (they even have a library, to where I donated copies of my 2012 book that includes the flat top as a supporting player!) can you imagine being on that Tico for 161 days without a port call? Talk about smelling farts and feet.
As The Greatest Generation ages and increasingly drifts from the present and into memory with each passing day, their footprints on those hallowed beaches on Normandy are washed away. With that, I find tributes tying today’s active military units, to their historical forebearers very important, a sign that those heroic deeds will continue forward.
At Pointe Du Hoc, overlooking Omaha Beach, the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion climbed the almost vertical cliff face to take out (what they were told) was a battery of strategically placed 155mm guns which could control the entire beach.
Of the 225 men with the 2nd Rangers at the dawn of D-Day, just 90 were still standing on D+1 when they were relieved.
To salute the Pointe Du Hoc Rangers, active duty Rangers of 2nd Battalion, 75th Rangers, some in period dress, reenacted the climb yesterday.
The 101st Airborne and 1st Infantry, meanwhile, had their own representatives on hand to walk in the footsteps of their predecessors that landed on the Cotentin (Cherbourg) Peninsula and on Omaha Beach.
Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa (CNE-A), dedicated a Lone Sailor statue on the seawall over Utah Beach, in honor of the bluejackets who cleared the beaches.
“The Frogmen swam ashore to the beaches of Normandy to make them safer for the follow-on wave of Allied forces,” said Foggo. “The Lone Sailor statue is a reminder to honor and remember their bravery and to act as a link from the past to the present as we continue to protect the same values they fought to protect.”
“The Lone Sailor statue stands on a plaza at the Utah Beach Museum overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from where the U.S. invasion force appeared on that historic morning. Although people come and go from this statue, the Lone Sailor will continue to serve as a universal sign of respect towards all Sea Service personnel for generations to come.”
At the same time, down the beach, CNE-A Fleet Master Chief Derrick Walters and U.S. Navy SEALS assigned to Special Warfare Unit 2 re-enacted the D-Day mission that Navy Combat Demolition Unit Sailors conducted in the cover of darkness to clear the beaches for the main invading force on Utah Beach, to include blowing up a recreated Czech Hedgehog beach obstacle with a bit of C4, as one does.
Meanwhile, the crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CV-69), read Ike’s famous D-Day Message
Make no mistake, a few precious Veterans of that Longest Day were able to be on hand in Normandy this week, such as 97-year-old 101st Airborne trooper Tom Price who came in just how he did back in 1944– jumping from a C-47.
As men like Mr. Price rejoin their units in the halls of Valhalla, memory is everything. It echos through eternity.
NORFOLK (Dec. 19, 2012) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk after a six-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin J. Steinberg/Released).
I always had a soft spot for the Ike and featured her in a cameo in my zombie novels Last Stand on Zombie Island and the upcoming Pirates of the Zombie Coast.
Whats massively impressive about this picture is all the flatops tied up waiting for Ike. From left to right you see a unidentified Nimitz class (possibly the Theodore Roosevelt or the George Bush), then the recently decommisoned USS Enterprise CVN-65 with her stern facing the camera. On the pier opposite of The Big E is the USS Bataan (LHD-5). At the far right are the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) bow on and the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) stern on.
That’s six flat-tops weighing in at about 550,000 tons of warships. This is likely more than the entire rest of the world’s carriers combined. Granted the Big E is decommed and pending scrapping, and the Bataan is a gator rather than a ‘real’ aircraft carrier, but still..impressive.