EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) returned home to a heroes welcome May 6, after nearly 10 months on deployment.
Lincoln's record-setting deployment began as a routine six-month deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch in July 2002. Upon completing its deployment in December 2002, Lincoln was called back to duty in the Arabian Gulf after a port visit to Australia to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Lincoln's deployment was the first to last longer than nine months in nearly 30 years and the longest ever for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
"I'm very proud of everything this crew has accomplished," said Rear Adm. John Kelly, Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) commander. "I know the extension has been tough and everyone's missing their loved ones, but it was important for us to hold the line and support our ground troops."
In a message to the Lincoln CSG, Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander, U.S. Central Command said "your extended 10-month deployment in direct support of our global war on terrorism will be long remembered by both Central Command and the American people."
In addition to the historic deployment, the Lincoln CSG set a few milestones: the first operational deployment of the F/A-18 E/F "Super Hornet," deploying with the Man Overboard Indicator aboard Lincoln and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and use of the Area Air Defense Control system aboard USS Shiloh (CG 67).
The numbers aboard Lincoln are staggering.
- 1.6 million pounds of ordnance used during OIF
- 12,700 arrested landings
- $4 and-a-half million in tax-free reenlistment bonuses
- Over 450,000 lbs. of processed plastic waste
- Over 3 million e-mails processed
Lincoln's Aircraft Imtermediate Maintenance department stayed busy during the deployment, repairing and making ready for issue 33,982 repairable items. What that equates to is a 71 percent repair rate during the deployment -- 2 percent above the Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific (CNAP) average repair rate, saving more than $205 million in stock replenishment costs.
Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW) Robin Bullins of Fighter/Attack Squadron (VFA) 115 said, "We had a really good maintenance department. The guys really worked their butts off, to be honest. They kept all of our aircraft up and we completed all of our sorties."
Lincoln's Supply department also had a very eventful deployment, with the ship completing 28 underway replenishments. Over the course of the deployment, the crew consumed more than 160,000 lbs. of coffee; 40,000 gallons of milk and 160,000 lbs. of chicken, steak, shrimp, hamburgers, hot dogs and bacon combined.
And now that the Lincoln CSG is out of harm's way, Sailors are happy to reunite with family and friends after what seems to be an eternity.
"I've had two nieces born, and I finally get to meet them," said Seaman Apprentice Amanda Harmon, of Cass City, Mich. "I can't wait to see them.
"Words cannot express how good it feels to be back," said Seaman David Espinosa of Reno, Nev. "This was my first cruise, so it feels [like] a long time to be away from my wife and son."
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