The USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group sailed into European waters Monday to train, patrol and make a show of force in regions where the Russian navy has grown more active.
The Nimitz-class Lincoln is the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter the theater since the USS Harry S. Truman did a double deployment here last year as part of “dynamic force employment,” a recently revived concept of operating in unpredictable patterns.
The Truman became the first aircraft-carrier to patrol the Arctic since the Cold War. In recent years, carriers have mostly operated from the eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf in support of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
The Lincoln, which left Norfolk a week ago, will also visit various undisclosed locations. But unlike the Truman, which returned to the East Coast for a port visit during deployment, the Lincoln will circumnavigate the globe and finish up at its new San Diego homeport.
“The Abraham Lincoln Strike Group has worked tremendously hard to prepare for our operations in U.S. 6th Fleet,” Rear Adm. John Wade, the strike group’s commander, said in a statement. “We are poised and ready to perform our mission.”
In late January, 2nd Fleet oversaw training for the Lincoln’s crews in its East Coast area of operations — the fleet’s first tactical exercise since it was revived last year.
In 2013, the Lincoln underwent a refueling and overhaul that took four years to complete. Part of the extensive work was to prepare the ship to accommodate F-35C fighters.
“We’re doing the maiden deployment of the second half of the ship’s life,” Capt. Putnam Browne, the Lincoln’s commander, told the Virginian-Pilot on April 2.
The carrier strike group will include the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Mason and USS Nitze. Carrier Air Wing 7 will be aboard the ship and the Spanish frigate ESPS Mendez will join the group later.
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