161 consecutive days at sea: Dwight D. Eisenhower and San Jacinto break US Navy record

As of June 25, 2020, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) and its escort ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), have been continuously at sea for 161 days, setting a new record for the US Navy.

Photo: US Navy

Both ships departed their homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, on January 17, for the strike group’s Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and follow-on deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.

Although Naval History and Heritage Command does not specifically track continuous days underway for naval vessels, it has two modern documented days-at-sea records, both of which are now broken.  

In February 2002, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) operated for 160 days straight in support of post-9/11 response.  And it was again, Ike, who held the record of 152 days consecutively underway during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

Due to the corona virus (COVID-19), Ike and its accompanying strike group ships have remained at sea to minimize the crews’ exposure to the virus.

“In March, I suspended liberty port visits to reduce the chance of spreading and contracting the virus across the Fleet,” Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime, said.

  “Throughout this pandemic, maintaining the Fleet’s warfighting readiness while ensuring the safety and well-being of our Sailors has been my top priority.”

Both Ike and San Jacinto’s crews have maintained mission readiness and effectiveness despite restrictions related to COVID-19.

“San Jacinto and Eisenhower have proven their ability to remain a flexible, adaptable and persistent force while staying on station in the Arabian Sea,” Capt. Edward Crossman, commanding officer of San Jacinto said.

“Both crews have been resupplying and refueling, performing repairs and upkeep, and maintaining overall readiness while continuously at sea. The two ships have spent the last five months conducting operations and exercises with foreign partners, other U.S. service branches, and U.S Navy ships in the region.”

Ike and San Jacinto remain at sea, deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints for the free flow of global commerce.

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