By Ryan Pickrell | Business Insider
- Ships from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group are deploying without their aircraft carrier after the flattop suffered a potentially serious electrical malfunction in late August, the Navy said Thursday.
- Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, the US 2nd Fleet commander, characterized the latest developments as “unfortunate” in talks with USNI News, which first reported the news.
- The ships deploying have formed a Surface Action Group that Lewis insists is “very capable” and ready “to do the nation’s bidding in this great-power competition.”
- The Navy has not given an estimated completion time for the repair work, but it has given assurances that “all efforts are being made to deploy the carrier and air wing as soon as possible.”
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Ships from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group are deploying without their carrier and accompanying air wing after the flattop suffered an unexpected electrical problem that required maintenance, the Navy revealed Thursday afternoon.
The destroyers Lassen, Farragut, and Forrest Sherman, along with the cruiser Normandy, are expected to set sail from their homeports in Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida, in the near future. These ships will be accompanied by helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Squadron 72 out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida. The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, however, will remain behind.
The move is unusual. Normally, if a carrier is down for maintenance or some other reason, it will simply be replaced with another carrier. But the East Coast carrier fleet is short a suitable alternative in the inventory because of maintenance backlogs and delivery delays, among other issues.
In late August, the Truman aircraft carrier experienced an “electrical malfunction within the ship’s electrical distribution system requiring analysis and repair,” a US Fleet Forces Command spokesman, Capt. Scott Miller, told USNI News, which first reported the news of both the electrical issue and the unusual deployment.
Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, the US 2nd Fleet commander, characterized the latest developments as “unfortunate” in talks with USNI News. “The situation with Truman frankly is unfortunate,” he told the naval-affairs outlet. “Obviously, we’re working really hard to fix it, and we will fix it, but it’s unfortunate — nobody wanted that to happen certainly.”
The Navy on Thursday said “repairs are progressing and all efforts are being made to deploy the carrier and air wing as soon as possible.” But, as there are still unknowns surrounding the issue, it is unclear when the Truman will be ready to sail.
“Not having the aircraft carrier,” Lewis told USNI News, “it does detract from the symbolism and the deterrent effect, no question.”
“The aircraft carrier is a behemoth beast with an amazing capability, it shows up off your shores, and if you’re not our friend, you become our friend quickly if you know what’s good for you,” he said. There is no question that that effect is lost with smaller ships.”
The deploying ships have formed a Surface Action Group, and the admiral insists these ships bring the kind of capability to confront both low- and high-end threats.
Explaining that the ships have anti-submarine, air-and-missile defense, and strike-warfare capabilities, he insisted that this was a “very capable group” that was ready “to do the nation’s bidding in this great-power competition,” an apparent reference to 2nd Fleet’s role in countering a resurgent Russia.