Norfolk, Va. – The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been ordered to return to Norfolk early and will arrive before Christmas.
Unfortunately for the families of her crew, the aircraft carrier will only be home for two months before heading back to the Middle East for several more months.
The unusual move is being made to accommodate delays in repair work on the propulsion systems of the USS Nimitz. The Everett, Wash.-based carrier was expected to deploy to the region to relieve Eisenhower early next year. Nimitz is now expected to deploy once repair work is complete.
Bringing the Eisenhower back home to Norfolk in December will permit the Navy to resurface the ship’s flight deck and make it available to return and remain in the Middle East region for several more months. This decision also provides the ship’s crew a welcome holiday respite from what will become nearly 10 months on station.
“Our Navy is in high demand operating forward all over the world,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. “And our Sailors, civilians and their families are doing a great job meeting that demand. Expanded maintenance work on USS Nimitz was unpredictable and has required us to establish a carrier schedule that satisfies our commitments overseas and most importantly is mindful of the stress on our Navy family. This is the right thing to do.”
The delays to the Nimitz forces the Navy to temporarily abandon the requirement to keep two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. The USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, currently deployed, will be the sole carrier in the region. Stennis departed its homeport of Bremerton in August. The Navy plans to send the USS Harry S Truman to the region early next year to restore the two-carrier presence.
CNN contributed to this report.