Herald staff and Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has the Everett-based USS Abraham Lincoln to support the troop buildup in Afghanistan.
The Navy says the aircraft carrier and the guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George arrived in the region over the weekend. The Lincoln brings an airwing that can send an additional 60 aircraft into the war — adding to aircraft already there and flying from the carrier the USS Harry S. Truman.
A statement from the 5th Fleet in Bahrain says Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved the sending of the second carrier to help coalition forces in Afghanistan and support maritime security operations.
The fleet’s area of responsibility includes the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and areas off of the Horn of Africa where a number of nations cooperate on anti-piracy operations.
The USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Momsen and USS Shoup left port at Everett Naval Station on Sept.7 for a routine deployment in the western Pacific Ocean and Persian Gulf area.
It’s one of the final deployments the aircraft carrier makes from its homeport before the Lincoln sails to a Norfolk, Va., shipyard for the midlife refueling of its two nuclear reactors. The carrier was commissioned in 1989.
The tentative schedule calls for the Lincoln to head that direction in late 2011, with the three-year refueling job to commence in 2013. The Navy has not decided whether the giant nuclear-powered warship will return, or if Everett will see another aircraft carrier in the interim.