In a surprise to no one, the Navy finally announced on Sunday that the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its strike group entered the 6th Fleet’s area of operations.
“We are ready to continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in U.S. 6th Fleet,” said strike group commander Rear Adm. Andrew J. Loiselle in a prepared statement released Sunday. “These vital sea lanes must remain open for global commerce and prosperity, and nothing in the world is able to foster regional security like a carrier strike group.”
After being sidelined for three months while work crews repaired power distribution panels damaged by intermittent electrical arcing, on Nov. 12 U.S. Fleet Forces Command declared Truman was fixed and ready to go to sea.
It departed Norfolk six days later to “reintegrate the carrier strike group” and prep the air wing, flattop and their crews for an operational deployment, the Navy said back then.
A week after exiting Norfolk, however, Truman conducted a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet fast combat support ship Supply and, as the days unfurled, it became clear that the carrier would keep heading east across the Atlantic Ocean until it reached the 6th Fleet’s area of operations.
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group includes Strike Fighter Squadron 11 “Red Rippers;” VFA-81 “Sunliners;” VFA-136 “Knighthawks;” VFA-211 “Fighting Checkmates;” Electronic Attack Squadron 137 “Rooks;” Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 “Seahawks;” Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 72 “Proud Warriors;” Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 11 “Dragon Slayers;” and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 “Rawhides.”
News that Truman has crossed the Atlantic dividing line into 6th Fleet’s AO might warm the hearts of family members of sailors assigned to sister Nimitz-class carrier Abraham Lincoln and the guided-missile cruiser Leyte Gulf, but the Pentagon hasn’t announced when or if they’ll be replaced by the eastbound carrier strike group.
Lincoln left Naval Station Norfolk April 1 for an around-the-world deployment that’s supposed to end in a homeport shift to Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego.
Within weeks of leaving, however, it was rushed to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Iran’s regime and then had to delay its journey to California due to Truman’s electrical woes.