- As of Friday, the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has been deployed for 291 days, making its nearly 10-month deployment the longest carrier deployment since the end of the Cold War.
- The previous record, set by the Lincoln from July 2002 to May 2003 in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, was 290 days.
- During its most recent deployment, the Lincoln shattered that record, sailed around the world, and sent warnings to Russia and Iran.
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The Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has broken the record for the longest post-Cold War carrier deployment.
CVN-72 has been deployed for more than 290 days, the record this ship set nearly two decades ago. During its 10-month deployment, this flattop has sailed around the world, conducted operations with allies and partners, and even challenged two adversarial powers.
When the Lincoln left Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1, it was expected to deploy for seven months. The flattop deployed with Carrier Air Wing 7, the cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, and the destroyers USS Mason, USS Bainbridge, and USS Nitze, a force of more than 6,000 people.
Shortly after the deployment began, the powerful armada sailed through the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean, at one point sending a message to Russia in joint operations with the USS John C. Stennis.
Source: Business Insider
On May 5, plans unexpectedly changed. The Trump administration ordered the Lincoln to the Middle East to send an “unmistakable message” to Iran.
Source: White House
Tensions between the US and Iran have increased sharply over the past year, with the two countries occasionally exchanging fire and inching dangerously closer to war.
The Lincoln did not leave the Middle East for seven months — the expected length of the entire deployment. In December, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, which suffered an electrical malfunction that forced an extension of the Lincoln’s deployment, arrived in the region, allowing the Lincoln to start making its way toward its new home port in San Diego.
The Lincoln’s extra-long deployment was extended a total of four times. “This certainly was outside what anybody would characterise as a normal” deployment, Capt. Walter Slaughter, the Lincoln’s commanding officer, told Military.com. “There were extraordinary circumstances.”
Families of crew members, some of whom moved across the country when the ship changed ports, have criticised the extended deployment.
“That’s sometimes how it goes,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said on Wednesday. “I don’t make any apologies for that,” he added, saying that if he had a better solution he would have offered it.
The previous record for the longest post-Cold War carrier deployment was set by the Lincoln on May 6, 2003, when it finally returned to its home port after a 290-day deployment that began on July 20, 2002. That extended deployment supported the US’s invasion of Iraq that began on March 20, 2003.
Source: US Navy
Update: The article has been updated to more clearly show that this is the longest post-Cold War carrier deployment, not the longest ship deployment since the end of the Cold War.