USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) departed on a scheduled deployment with the first Marine Corps unit to fly F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters embarked aboard the carrier.
The Nimitz-class Abraham Lincoln pulled out of its homeport in San Diego, Calif., shortly before 9 a.m. local time. The carrier strike group includes guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), Carrier Air Wing Nine and guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), USS Gridley (DDG-101), USS Sampson (DDG-102) and USS Spruance (DDG-111).
Carrier Air Wing Nine includes eight squadrons: the “Tophatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron 14, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets; the “Black Aces” of Strike Fighter Squadron 41, flying F/A-18F Super Hornets; the “Vigilantes” of Strike Fighter Squadron 151, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets; the “Wizards” of Electronic Attack Squadron 133, flying EA-18G Growlers; the “Wallbangers” of Airborne Command & Control Squadron 117, flying E-2 Hawkeyes; the “Chargers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 14, flying MH-60S Knight Hawks; the “Raptors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71, flying MH-60R Sea Hawks; and the “Black Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, flying F-35Cs.
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 is the first Marine unit to transition to the F-35Cs, USNI News previously reported. The unit transitioned to the new planes at the end of 2020 after retiring the squadron’s F/A-18C Hornets.
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 officially reached operational capability in July, USNI News reported. The “Black Knights” are based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif.
The deployment also marks the first one for Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt in the role as commanding officer of Lincoln.
Bauernschmidt is the first woman to lead a nuclear aircraft carrier, the flagship of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group. Bauernschmidt previously served as the executive officer before becoming Lincoln’s CO in August, USNI News reported.
In 2020, Lincoln returned from a 295-day deployment – the longest since the Vietnam War – after having its deployment extended to remain on station in U.S. Central Command.
The Navy now has three carrier strike groups deployed. In addition to Abraham Lincoln, the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group are deployed.
Carl Vinson, which has Carrier Air Wing 2 embarked, is underway in the western Pacific. The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA), which fly F-35Cs, are part of the unit.
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is in the Ionian Sea, according to the USNI News fleet tracker.
This is the first time since May that three carrier strike groups were underway, according to the USNI News Fleet Tracker.