Navy Times annually looks to the future in late December, not the past. We want to arm sailors and their families with insight into what we think might be the top trends or news events in the coming year.
We chose 16 stories we think you should watch for in 2020. They were produced by Military Times Deputy Editor Leo Shane III, Senior Navy Times Reporter Courtney Mabeus, Senior Military Times Reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz, Military Times Overseas Operations/COCOM reporter Shawn Snow, Defense News Capitol Hill Reporter Joe Gould and Defense News Naval Warfare Reporter David Larter.
On Monday, we’ll bring you up to the second top story for next year and wrap it all up on Tuesday.
7. A bloody week
The Dec. 6 rampage unleashed on Naval Air Station Pensacola by Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani capped a terrible week for the sea service.
Wielding a Glock Model 45 9mm pistol he bought from a Florida gun dealer, Alshamrani killed three sailors and wounded eight other people, including two sheriff’s deputies, before dying in a shootout with law enforcement personnel.
On Nov. 30, a civilian man driving a pickup truck breached a gate at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story before striking a Navy police cruiser and killing a sailor inside. He’s been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
That was followed by a Dec. 4 shooting spree at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, when Machinist’s Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio “Gabe” Romero, 22, opened fire with his M4 service rifle, killing two Department of Defense workers and wounding a third before taking his own life.
The three very different incidents triggered probes by Navy commands and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to figure out what caused the eruptions of violence.
Their findings and recommendations for reforms are expected to trickle out in 2020.
8. Truman heads to sea, Lincoln goes home
Beset by an electrical issue that sidelined the flattop for months, the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman left Norfolk right before Thanksgiving and headed east.
That’s got to be a relief for the thousands of sailors who deployed with the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln from Norfolk on April 1. In May, they steamed to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran and then stuck around when Truman’s glitches kept it in port.
While Lincoln is going to see its deployment stretch into the New Year, the good news is it’s inching closer to making its homeport shift to Naval Air Station North Island, U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Self-Kyler said.
On Christmas Eve, it was underway in the South China Sea, heading east toward California.
Meanwhile, aircraft carrier John C. Stennis shifted from Bremerton, Washington, to Hampton Roads, where it will eventually head to the Newport News Shipyard for its midlife refueling, replacing the flattop George Washington there in fiscal 2021, said Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Force Atlantic.
The George Washington’s overhaul is 66 percent complete and the crew expects to move on board in August 2020.
Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of Allied Joint Forces Command Naples, Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa, told reporters during a Defense Writer’s Group meeting Dec. 18 that he visited Truman as the carrier passed through the 6th Fleet in recent weeks on its way to the Red Sea, adding that “she’s going exactly where she needs to be.”
“Obviously there’s some concerns in the Middle East, particularly with malign Iranian influence —completely unsatisfactory behavior, attacking ships in port, attacking ships at sea with limpet mines on the sides of the ships, shooting down an American drone and attacking Saudi Aramco,” Foggo said.