Carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) is back in Norfolk after a deployment to the Middle East and a two-month sustainment cruise off the coast of Virginia, totaling more than seven months at sea, the Navy announced on Tuesday.
Sailors met their families in a socially distanced homecoming without the traditional trappings of a carrier returning to homeport. Families waited in cars in assigned parking lots for their sailors to minimize any potential exposure to COVID-19.
While the carrier’s deployment ended in mid-April, the ongoing pandemic prompted senior Pentagon leaders to keep Truman at-sea until the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group deployed from the West Coast.
“We made a decision, the [Secretary of Defense] made a decision and the Navy made a decision to keep the Harry S. Truman at sea so that we had at least two carriers at sea at a moment’s notice,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said on April 14.
“That was a conscious, deliberative, operational decision in order to make sure that we had carrier strike group capability at sea.”
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and its escorts left San Diego last week for deployment after an extended isolation period for all the ships and the embarked Carrier Air Wing 17, freeing up Truman and its escorts to return
Last week, unit’s assigned to the Truman CSG began to return. Units from Carrier Air Wing 1 returned to Naval Air Station Oceana and Chambers Field in Norfolk, while last Friday guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) and guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98) returned to Norfolk after 267 days underway.
Truman was set to leave in September but was sidelined by electrical problems. Instead, U.S. 2nd Fleet assembled a Surface Action Group to press on while Truman was being repaired. The carrier left the pier in Norfolk on Nov. 18. Tuesday’s return marks 216 days deployed for the carrier.
Two other ships in the CSG, USS Lassen (DDG-82) and USS Farragut (DDG-99), returned to their homeport at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., on Tuesday. Since May, the two destroyers were assigned to U.S. 4th Fleet as part of U.S. Southern Command’s increased anti-trafficking push in the region along with the Coast Guard, partner nations and U.S. law enforcement.
Now at the end of the deployment, Truman is set to begin a long-overdue maintenance period. Truman is completing its second deployment in a row without extended repair time a – a so-called double pump deployment.
“The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group has remained underway in the Western Atlantic since early April as a ready carrier strike group during the COVID-19 global pandemic,” reads a statement from U.S. 2nd Fleet. “Truman has spent at least one day underway for 32 of the last 36 months, in direct support of global security around the world.”