Home » Aviation » Navy Shifting Homeports of 3 Carriers: Lincoln to San Diego, Stennis to Norfolk, Vinson to Bremerton

Navy Shifting Homeports of 3 Carriers: Lincoln to San Diego, Stennis to Norfolk, Vinson to Bremerton

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)

Aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) will rejoin the U.S. Pacific Fleet when it shifts its homeport from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego, Calif.

Two other Nimitz-class carriers will change homeports to accommodate scheduled carrier maintenance periods, Naval Air Forces announced in a Thursday news release.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) will move from Bremerton, Wash., to Norfolk, Va., where it then will undergo its midlife refueling and complex overhaul, or RCOH, at Newport News Shipbuilding. USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) will leave its berth at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. and move to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Wash., where it is scheduled for a planned incremental maintenance availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

The Navy would not say when any of the homeport changes would occur.

“For operational reasons, we don’t discuss ships’ movements,” Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces Pacific told USNI News on Thursday.

The return of Lincoln to the West Coast will keep at five the number of aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific Fleet, once Stennis and Vinson shift their homeport. That’s less than half of the Navy’s fleet of 10 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carriers, which for the mid-life refueling must relocate to Newport News since it’s the only facility to conduct the carrier’s midlife refueling.

Commissioned in 1989, Lincoln served in the Pacific region from 1990 to 2011, when the carrier deployed and shifted its homeport from Everett, Wash., to Norfolk for its midlife refueling. Lincoln completed its four-year RCOH in May 2017.

Stennis has called Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton home since 2005, when it relocated to Washington from San Diego. The carrier had left its berth on Sunday for “training exercises,” according to a report the Kitsap Sun. Commissioned in 1995, Stennis will be halfway through a Nimitz-class carrier’s expected 50-year life in 2020.

Vinson’s most recent operational overseas deployment ended in April, when the carrier returned to Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., wrapped up a three-month assignment in the western Pacific that included a historic visit to Vietnam along with Carrier Air Wing 2. The carrier was commissioned in 1982.

Vinson, which has called San Diego home since 2010, recently wrapped up its participation in this summer’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercises off Hawaii. Last week, two MH-60S helicopters with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron assisted with rescuing civilian mariners whose boat ran aground near the island of Niihau. “We were ready,” said Capt. Matt Paradise, Vinson’s commanding officer, said in a Navy news story. “When nearby mariners needed assistance, we stepped up immediately and helped. That is what we are trained to do, and I’m proud of our team.”

The following is the Aug. 2 statement from the Navy.

The U.S. Navy announced today that three Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) will conduct homeport shifts. USS Abraham Lincoln, currently located in Norfolk, Virginia, will rejoin the Pacific Fleet, making San Diego its homeport. Abraham Lincoln, commissioned in 1989, previously served in the Pacific Fleet from 1990-2011 before moving to Norfolk for midlife refueling. The other two carrier homeport shifts are tied to carrier maintenance. John C. Stennis, currently homeported in Bremerton, Washington, will change homeports to Norfolk in advance of its midlife refueling, or reactor complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding. John C. Stennis was commissioned in 1995; Nimitz-class carriers are built to last 50 years. USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) will conduct a homeport change to Bremerton in advance of its docking-planned incremental availability (DPIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

  • Centaurus

    Do they shove those things through the Panama Canal ? Or around the Horn ?

    • NR

      They are much wider, longer, and draft more than the canal can handle. They are also too tall to fit under the bridge on the way to the locks.

      • USNVO

        Not anymore.

        A CVN will fit through the new Panama Canal locks although I understand there are some clearance issues on the sponsons. Certainly all the light poles would need to be removed. The canal itself is also now deep enough with the added depth on Lake Gatun. The Bridge of the Americas is still a challenge but not an insurmountable one since it is less than 20ft at low tide. So it is technically possible but I would guess there are also a whole slew of other issues including extensive advanced preparations, force protection concerns, and disruption of the normal canal traffic that will keep it from happening.

        • NR

          Sure, if you want to say that in theory the ships could fit the new panamax dimensions I’ll agree but for all practical purposes they don’t. The deck is 250′ plus wide and the ships have to fit into the locks with room for 85′ of vertical lift (over multiple locks)… I’m not sure of the exact dimensions of the overhang as you clear the waterline up to the flight deck but it seems like a real stretch fitting into the locks as currently built even accounting for moving poles, wires, antenna, etc.

      • Centaurus

        So its around the Horn ? Cape of Good Hope ?

  • proudrino

    “For operational reasons, we don’t discuss ships’ movements,” Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces Pacific told USNI News on Thursday.

    I can see this if discussing deployment or operational schedules but come on! We are talking about homeport changes of three aircraft carriers, the timing of which can probably be ascertained by what’s sitting (or not) at Newport News Shipbuilding. It’s not too unreasonable to, at least discuss the planned fiscal years where these shifts will occur. I suspect the truth is that the Navy doesn’t want to discuss the moves because it only takes one huge delay in delivery by a handful of shipyards to throw the whole schedule off and that is embarrassing for all concerned.

    • NavySubNuke

      Sorry to disappoint you but this is just basic OPSEC 101 not some vast conspiracy.
      The reason you don’t discuss ANY ships movements is to not red flag when something interesting is actually happening vs. when something routine is. If you publicly discuss some moves but not others it allows people to key in on when certain things are happening vs. when they aren’t. The easiest way to deny adversaries this free intel is to simply never comment on it.
      It is the same reason you never say yes or no to if your vessel is carrying nuclear weapons — you simply say that you can neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons onboard this vessel.

      • The Drill SGT

        Course the best way to tell where nukes are is to look for Marines with rifles looking vigilant.

        • NavySubNuke

          Although I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard any vessel in which I served I CAN say that no US SSBN goes to sea with marines 😉

          • The Drill SGT

            agree, but when you see Marines guarding bunkers at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown instead of contractor guards or Marines driving trucks down to the pier to load some ship, you know they aren’t delivering fresh fruit…

          • Natalya

            Does that Weapons Station service only SSN/SSBN’s or surface ships too? When I looked at the site using Google Earth, the bridge to the south seems not high enough to allow surface ships to pass? Or am I mistaken?

          • Graeme Rymill

            If you mean the George P. Coleman bridge it has a 60 foot clearance. Possibly an ammunition barge is used to transfer.

          • Old Coasty

            Having served in Yorktown and living across the river I can tell you I had to sit in traffic jams waiting to cross the bridge while it was open for navy ships going to or from NWS Yorktown up river. The bridge is a swing open on a central pier type.

            It seemed that the navy always scheduled a passage for morning and / or afternoon rush hour!

  • Western

    Someone has the uHaul franchise.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Brigit, correction to photo caption. Third carrier is CVN-72.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Lots of disruptions for Navy families moving coast to coast, I’m sure. Thanks for loaning your Moms, Dads, and spouses to protect their country.

    • NavySubNuke

      Agreed. Though at least this shuffle doesn’t effect the forward based carrier in Japan. Coast to coast moves are something all Navy families get used to – even if doing this move alone while your sailor is moving the ship complicates things tremendously vs. the typical move.
      Trans-continental moves are an entirely different ball game!

      • Da Facts

        Yeah, and there will no doubt be a fair number of ship swaps involved too.

  • The Drill SGT

    Must be new math:

    “The return of Lincoln to the West Coast will keep at five the number of aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific Fleet, once Stennis and Vinson shift their homeport. That’s less than half of the Navy’s fleet of 10 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carriers,”

    5 is now less than half of 10

    • Leatherstocking

      Huzzah…. 7 out of 5 people can’t do fractions. 🙂

      • publius_maximus_III

        I thought I was a wit, but I was only half right.

        • Da Facts

          Half right or half wit? ;P

    • NavySubNuke

      In addition to being mathematically incorrect it is also a weird statement to make since more than half of the OPERATIONAL carriers will be in PAC since Stennis will be getting new guts.

  • Leroy

    I like the idea of dispersing the Fleet, as in returning to NI. A hard lesson-learned from Pearl. I also like the idea of Foward Deployment – especially in the Pacific. Subic would be nice but I doubt the PI will ever allow (or accommodate) that again. Too bad because they are totally defenseless in the face of blatant Chinese aggression. So they’ll eventually learn a very hard lesson. Now …

    I wonder if the Navy has ever given thought to Guam (tight but doable) or Australia? Oh yeah there’s the question of increased vulnerability but let’s face it – new LR Chinese weapons are making that reality more real/possible every passing year. As in Japan. So? Just a thought.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    At what point does this Pacific Pivot account for the fact Russia — the be all end all threat of all threats, according to CNN, generally represents an Atlantic threat.

    • Duane

      Actually, Russia’s biggest submarine base is in Vladivostok. So Russia has a two ocean navy.

      • Graeme Rymill

        “The Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base, located nine miles (15 kilometers)
        across Avacha Bay from the region’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, is
        home to most of Russia’s Pacific nuclear submarine fleet” according to a 2015 Diplomat web site article. Rybachiy is 2,200 km from Vladivostok.There are approximately 16 nuclear powered submarines in the Pacific Fleet. The 6-8 conventional attack submarines in the Russian Pacific Fleet are based at Vladivostok.

        There are also approximately 13 nuclear powered submarines at Yagelnaya Bay Naval Base as part of the Northern Fleet. It is likely therefore that Vladivostok is only the third biggest Russian submarine base.

      • NavySubNuke

        “Russia’s biggest submarine base is in Vladivostok”
        Demonstrably false.
        “So Russia has a two ocean navy”
        Wow Duane – congratulations!! You actually said something correct. I think this only about the third or fourth time. Of course the first half of this statement is a typical Duane statement — obviously wrong — but hey at least this part was true!

    • PolicyWonk

      Heh – Russia makes a good show by demonstrating what they have.

      But their lack of defense budget ultimately prevents them from being as potentially dangerous as China. China has the economic wherewithal and infrastructure to continue their very rapid build-up of their armed forces.

      The place where Russia (and N. Korea, among others) can really prevail is in the cyber war area, which can be waged at a global level very cheaply.

      • AmPatriotSmith

        Good answer. China is the biggest threat long term; and, yes, Russia excels at cyber warfare

  • Graeme Rymill

    Strait of Magellan is safer than Cape Horn. In 2004 USS Ronald Reagan transited the Strait of Magellan. In 2015 USS George Washington did the same.

  • Graeme Rymill

    I didn’t claim the Strait of Magellan was safer than going round the Cape of Good Hope. I simply stated that it was safer than going round the Horn. The USN evidently agrees with me.

  • Graeme Rymill

    That is utter garbage. The Strait of Magellan is exactly that – a strait with land on both sides. You can’t “round” it. “The Horn” is a truncation of Cape Horn – a geographical entity entirely distinct from the Magellan Strait. The southern most part of the most commonly used shipping channel in the Strait of Magellan is almost 200 miles from Cape Horn. The eastern and western exits of the Strait of Magellan are at least twice that distance from Cape Horn.

    Even so I will re-phrase my comment just to keep you happy:

    I didn’t claim the Strait of Magellan was safer than going round the Cape
    of Good Hope. I simply stated that it was safer than going round
    Cape Horn. The USN evidently agrees with me.

  • Graeme Rymill

    ” the big majority of Russia’s sub fleet is currently based in the Pacific, not the Atlantic”

    Even your modified statement is not true. The Pacific Fleet has about 20 submarines and the Northern Fleet has about 30 – the remainder are in the Baltic or in the Black Sea. The Pacific Fleet has more cruise missile launching subs and more conventional subs that the Northern Fleet. However the Pacific Fleet has fewer SSBN and many fewer SSN than the Northern Fleet.

    This 2017 comment from the Russia Beyond web site is a more accurate assessment:
    ” the Russian Pacific Fleet is making a strong comeback with new ships, naval bases and infrastructure.The Pacific Fleet is slowly but steadily gaining critical mass. The pride of the fleet are two Borei-class submarines – the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh [both SSBNs] – which are counted among the deadliest submarines in the world.”

  • NavySubNuke

    “the big majority of Russia’s sub fleet is curtently based in the Pacific, not the Atlantic”
    LOL. Oh dear. It really is funny when someone exposes your ignorance and rather than admitting you are wrong you pride makes you double down and keep lying to try to appear like you have so idea what is going on.
    No worries old man — everyone realize by now what a fool you are. The only question is how many more times Graeme has to point out that you are wrong before you brand him as a paid Russian troll too.

  • Graeme Rymill

    In 2017 the Defense Intelligence Agency wrote a report entitled “Russia: Military Power”. Page 68-69:

    “Russia’s sea-based strategic deterrent is deployed in the Northern and Pacific Fleets. There are six DELTA IV SSBNs, one DOLGORUKIY SSBN, and one remaining TYPHOON SSBN used as a test platform in the north. Three DELTA III and two DOLGORUKIY SSBNs are in the Pacific…… In the Northern Fleet, these attack submarines include three OSCAR II and one SEVERODVINSK
    SSGNs and three VICTOR III, six AKULA I/II, and four SIERRA SSNs. The Pacific Fleet has five OSCAR II SSGNs and four AKULA I SSNs. It will eventually receive SEVERODVINSK SSGNs. …..Older and newer versions of the KILO class comprise most of this force: six in the Northern Fleet, two in the Baltic, three new KALIBR-equipped units in the Black Sea, and eight older KILO class in the Pacific…..A single PETERSBURG-class improved design experimental unit is in the Northern Fleet with two additional units to be completed.”

    To sum up – you are wrong about the SSNs, wrong about the SSBNs and overall wrong about where the majority of the Russian submarine fleet is based.