Rumors false: Lincoln crew is OK, will return on time

By SUSANNA RAY

Herald Writer

Despite the Middle East crisis involving the attack on the USS Cole, a spokeswoman from the Everett-based USS Abraham Lincoln, which is in the Persian Gulf, reported Thursday that all is well aboard the aircraft carrier.

"I just wanted to let you know, in the event you’re hearing any rumors, that our deployment has not been extended, and that we are planning to remain on station in the Arabian Gulf for the time originally intended, when we’ll be relieved by the carrier battle group which will take our place," Lt. Cmdr. Denise Shorey wrote in an e-mail.

Shorey said she had received a forwarded e-mail from someone at Fort Lawton who had heard a broadcast report that the Lincoln’s time in the gulf had been extended, and how that would have an impact on Everett families.

That’s not true, she said.

The Lincoln is due back in February. It left Aug. 17 on a routine six-month deployment to enforce U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Most of the seven Navy ships based in Everett spend six months out of every two-year cycle in the Persian Gulf.

On this deployment, the Lincoln is the flagship of a battle group that includes the Bremerton-based USS Camden and six other ships and submarines from San Diego and Hawaii.

After the attack two weeks ago in Aden, Yemen, which killed 17 sailors on the Cole, the Camden went to Aden with three Navy vessels to provide watch relief crews, harbor security, damage control equipment, billeting and food service for the damaged ship.

Everett sailors from the Lincoln also helped out on Monday by donating 340 sea bags to be distributed to Cole sailors whose personal effects were damaged during the explosion and recovery operations. Sea bags are Navy staples that contain everything needed to exist on a ship, including uniforms, shoes, belt buckles, hats and toiletries.

Shorey reported that the Cole requested 250 sea bags, but 40 minutes after the call went out Monday, Lincoln sailors had given so many they had to be turned away. They wrote messages on the bags, she said, such as "Get through this OK. You’ll be home soon," or simply, "We’re here for you."

American forces in the gulf are on heightened alert because of additional terrorist threats, and all 23 ships in the 5th fleet — including the Lincoln, two cruisers, five destroyers, two frigates, one attack submarine, two mine hunters and various other assault and support ships — were sent out to sea.

"There are no ships in port in the Middle East," Lt. Cmdr. Bill Fenick, a spokesman for Navy Region Northwest in Seattle, said Thursday.

Fenick said ships usually make several port calls on the way to and from the gulf, and about two port visits while in the gulf. A few weeks ago, not long after arriving in the gulf, the Lincoln made a port call to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.

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