Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to Depart Norfolk on Monday

March 29, 2019 1:55 PM
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) illuminates its hull number on the ship’s island structure with holiday colors while moored pierside at Naval Station Norfolk. US Navy photo.

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is expected to leave Norfolk on April 1 for the start of a deployment that will end in a homeport shift to San Diego, Calif.

The carrier strike group deployment will be the second from the East Coast since the Navy implemented a dynamic force employment concept that seeks to shake up where carriers deploy to and how they spend their time on deployments. It is unclear how DFE will shape this deployment, which will already be unusual due to the homeport shift: the carrier will likely go through the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East and into the Western Pacific before heading to California.

Lincoln’s homeport move is part of a three-carrier homeport swap, which involves USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) leaving San Diego for Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Wash., and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) leaving Bremerton for Norfolk.

Vinson is slated for an incremental maintenance availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Stennis is undergoing a midlife refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Lincoln, which completed its RCOH in 2017, had been a West Coast-based carrier before entering the Newport News Shipbuilding yard in March 2013 and will now return to the Pacific carrier fleet.

Joining Lincoln in the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group are the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7); staffs of Carrier Strike Group Twelve (CSG 12) and Destroyer Squadron Two (DESRON 2); Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), USS Mason (DDG-87) and USS Nitze (DDG-94); and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55).

USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) participated in the Lincoln CSG’s predeployment training but departed last week for an independent deployment to conduct ballistic missile defense and theater security cooperation.

Álvaro de Bazán-class Spanish navy frigate Méndez Núñez (F 104) prepares to pull alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) to perform a replenishment-at-sea exercise on Jan. 29, 2019. US Navy Photo

Also, when the CSG nears Gibraltar, Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104) from the Spanish Armada, will join the group. Mendez Nunez trained with the Lincoln CSG earlier this year in Norfolk and returned in early March to its homeport of Ferrol, Spain. The frigate is expected to integrate into the group for the duration of the deployment.

For Spain, Mendez Nunez’s global deployment is intended to showcase how well the frigate operates in a CSG configuration. General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works is expected partner with Spanish shipbuilder Navantia in submitting a frigate proposal based on the F-100 design as part of the U.S. Navy’s future frigate (FFG(X)) competition.

For the FFG(X), the U.S. Navy is only considering designs of ships already in use. The Fincantieri Marine Group, Austal USA, Lockheed Martin and Huntington Ingalls Industries are also expected to submit designs to the U.S. Navy.

After arriving in San Diego later this year with the Lincoln CSG, Mendez Nunez will complete its circumnavigation of the globe, commemorating the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s Spanish-flagged fleet departing for what would become the first circumnavigation of the world.

The following are the units that are deploying on April 1, 2019, according to U.S. Fleet Forces.

Carrier Strike Group 12

Aircraft carrier
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va. (shifting to San Diego, Calif., upon completion of deployment)

Carrier Air Wing 7

CVW 7, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Lincoln and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fist of the Fleet” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140 from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Night Dippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Griffins” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79 from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 2

The leadership of DESRON 2 is embarked aboard Lincoln and commands the guided-missile destroyers that are operating as part of the CSG.

  • USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mason (DDG-87), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Nitze (DDG-94), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104), Ferrol Naval Base, Spain (will join the strike group in the Eastern Atlantic)

Guided-missile Cruiser

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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