NORFOLK — Many of the nearly 4,500 sailors on the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis weren’t even born the last time the Navy’s seventh Nimitz-class warship arrived in Hampton Roads.
All that will change on Thursday, when the flattop is slated to arrive at Naval Station Norfolk more than 21 years after its last appearance here, according to a Fleet Forces Command announcement.
Stennis and its strike group departed on its former homeport in Bremerton, Washington, on Oct. 15 for a deployment that sailed across Mediterranean and Atlantic waters.
The carrier is coming to Norfolk so that it later can begin its midlife Refueling Complex Overhaul at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding, where the flattop was delivered more than 23 years ago.
The RCOH will start once workers finish refueling and modernizing sister carrier George Washington.
Only twice before in the past two decades have two U.S. aircraft carriers operated together in the Mediterranean Sea at the same time.
While Stennis is stopping in Norfolk, the rest of the carrier strike group isn’t. The guided-missile destroyers Stockdale, Spruance and Chung-Hoon detached from the group in April to return to their homeports in San Diego and Hawaii.
The guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay escorted Stennis across the Atlantic but is expected to continue on to its homeport in San Diego, too.
San Diego became a homeport for Stennis in early 1998, less than three years after it was commissioned.