Home Americas US Navy keeping carrier Truman at sea in bid to prevent COVID-19

US Navy keeping carrier Truman at sea in bid to prevent COVID-19

USS Harry S. Truman
USS Harry S. Truman transits the Atlantic Ocean while oiler USNS Patuxent conducts a replenishment-at-sea with destroyer USS Forrest Sherman and cruiser USS Normandy, April 11, 2020. Photo: US Navy

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and ships from its carrier strike group have concluded their Middle East but will not be pulling into Naval Base Norfolk.

According to the navy, the carrier strike group will remain at sea in the Western Atlantic as a certified carrier strike group force ready for tasking in order to protect the crew from the risks posed by COVID-19.

The navy said it was taking this measure to maintain the strike group’s warfighting capability while ensuring the safety of the crew.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley told reporters that the Harry S. Truman would remain at sea until another carrier is ready to set sail. This is expected to be the lead ship in the class, USS Nimitz, whose crew is currently in quarantine before embarking the ship for training.

Keeping HSTCSG at sea in US 2nd Fleet as it remains in the sustainment phase of OFRP allows the ship to maintain a high level of readiness for a potential rapid surge or forward deployment, providing options to the national command authority during this global COVID-19 pandemic, the navy said in a statement.

“The ship [Truman] is entering a period in which it needs to be ready to respond and deploy at any time,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander US 2nd Fleet. “Normally we can do that pierside, but in the face of COVID-19, we need to protect our most valuable asset, our people, by keeping the ship out to sea.”

“After completing a successful deployment we would love nothing more than to be reunited with our friends and families,” said Rear Admiral Andrew Loiselle, commander of Carrier Strike Group 8. “We recognize that these are unique circumstances and the responsible thing to do is to ensure we are able to answer our nation’s call while ensuring the health and safety of our Sailors. We thank you for your continued love and support as we remain focused on this important mission.”

USS Harry S. Truman started its deployment to Europe and the Middle East in November 2019. The deployment is the carrier’s second one since it returned home in December 2018. The navy is using the Truman to trial a new “dynamic force employment”, which is envisioned to allow the navy to be “operationally unpredictable while remaining strategically predictable.”