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‘It's been a long time coming’ — Hugs and tears as USS Abraham Lincoln returns from longest deployment since Cold War
After tens of thousands of nautical miles traveled around the globe over the last 294 days, the sailors aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln arrived in their new home port of San Diego Monday.
The arrival marked the end of a grueling 10-month deployment for the Lincoln, which left Norfolk, Va., on a planned deployment and home-port swap on April 1. Originally scheduled to arrive in San Diego in October, many Lincoln families moved to the area without their sailors over the summer, only to have the ship's deployment extended in October through the holidays and into January.
Thousands of family members and loved ones lined the pier at Naval Air Station North Island to await the carrier's return, with some arriving more than four hours ahead of schedule to snag front-row seats.
San Diego is poised to become the home port of three Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carriers in 2020, tripling the carrier footprint in the region and bringing a $1.6 billion per year boost to the local economy.
The additional ships and the roughly 3,000 sailors attached to each will bring additional strain to an already tight housing market and may threaten more traffic on the already congested city of Coronado streets, Interstate 5 and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — More than nine months after embarking on what was supposed to be a seven-month round-the-world deployment, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln is finally on course for its new home port of San Diego.
The ship, which has been operating in and around the Middle East since May, left the region in mid-December and is bound for home.
When the carrier left Norfolk, Va., on April 1, its crew knew it was in for a deployment that was outside the norm. Not only was it deploying to the Middle East, but it also was switching home ports from the East Coast to the West, originally due in San Diego around Halloween. Many Lincoln family members moved across the country over the summer — without the help of their sailors — in order for children to start school in time for the new school year.
World events — and maintenance issues on another carrier — led to the ship's mission being extended well beyond its original return date.
The United States could send up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in a surge that would double the number of service members dispatched to the region since May as part of a showdown with Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Reporters Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef first brought to light that President Donald Trump could decide later this month whether to send more troops and ships to deter Iran. The president could ultimately approve a smaller deployment to the region.
While attempting to land on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea earlier this month, an E-2D Hawkeye propeller aircraft struck two F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft and sent debris flying into two other F/A-18s on the flight deck, according to the Naval Safety Center.