Monday, July 9, 2007

Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise leaves Norfolk for Persian Gulf

July 8, 2007, 11:48 AM (GMT+02:00): Four warships in the carrier’s strike group depart Norfolk Naval station Monday, July 9: the guided missile destroyers Arleigh Burke, Stout, James E .Williams and Forrest Sherman, as well as three more ships – with 7,500 sailors in all aboard. The Enterprise CVN 65-Big E Strike Group will join the USS Stennis and USS Nimitz carriers, building up the largest sea, air, marine concentration the US has ever deployed opposite Iran.

Enterprise re-enters the seas: Almost 7,500 sailors are shipping out with the USS Enterprise this month from all over the East Coast. The carrier was the only ship leaving Saturday, but on Monday, four more Norfolk-based ships get under way, as well as a Florida-based guided missile cruiser. The strike group's Connecticut-based submarine will ship out later this month - bringing to more than 7,500 the total number of sailors at sea with the Enterprise.

Rear Adm. Daniel Holloway acknowledged that after a homecoming in November, only a short time was spent in port for the carrier's crew and their families.

"This allows our other ships to get the maintenance they need," said Holloway, the commanding officer for the entire strike group.

"In the cycle, it's our fair share. The Enterprise was ready."

It's unclear exactly how long it will be before the ships return home, and the mission hasn't been officially defined.

"We provide maritime options for the president," said Capt. Ronald Horton, the commander of the Enterprise. "If our nation does not need us anymore, we'll come home."

The attack submarine Philadelphia will leave later in July
from its homeport in Groton, Conn. Also part of the strike group is the combat support ship Supply, which will leave from Earle Naval Weapons Station in New Jersey. The Enterprise will be joined by aircraft and sailors from Carrier Air Wing 1. Two days later, the destroyers Arleigh Burke, Stout, Forrest Sherman and James E. Williams deploy from Norfolk, and the cruiser Gettysburg will leave Naval Station Mayport, Fla., to join the group.