Abraham Lincoln completed additional sustainment training in southern Californian waters during the New Year from 14 to 25 January 2006. The ship deployed from NS Everett to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf beneath gray and leaden skies on the cool day of 27 February 2006. Rear Adm. John W. Goodwin, Commander Carrier Strike Group 9, broke his flag in the carrier. The carrier first sailed to southern Californian waters to rendezvous with the remainder of the group, and to embark CVW-2. The S-6 Aviation Support Division of the Supply Department loaded two SH-60B Seahawk aviation repairable pack-up kits from NAS North Island. The ship required this equipment to support the second iteration on board of the SH-60B-To-Carrier Pilot program.
The F/A-18E Super Hornets of VFA-137, F/A-18F Super Hornets of VFA-2, F/A-18C Hornets of VFA-34 and VFA-151, E-2C Hawkeyes of VAW-116, EA-6B Prowlers of VAQ-131, C-2A Greyhounds of VRC-30 Detachment 2, and SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawks of HS-2 embarked with CVW-2 on board the carrier. The SH-60B Seahawks of HSL-47 deployed in detachments on board the accompanying ships, which initially included Mobile Bay and Shoup.
While the carrier sailed toward the Seventh Fleet, she participated in a passing exercise with Japanese guided missile destroyers Hatakaze (DDG-171) and Kirishima (DDG-174) and destroyer Harusame (DD-102) on 22 and 23 March 2006. Several American and Japanese officers temporarily exchanged billets and served on board their allies’ ships. Abraham Lincoln took part in antisubmarine exercise USWEx 08-3 in Hawaiian waters from 25 to 27 March. Mobile Bay, guided missile destroyers Momsen (DDG-92), Russell, and Shoup, attack submarines Cheyenne, Greeneville (SSN-772), Pasadena, Seawolf (SSN-21), and Tucson (SSN-770), and P-3C Orions from Command Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, VP-4, VP-9, and VP-47 also participated.
Abraham Lincoln then participated in Foal Eagle 2006, an exercise to demonstrate U.S. resolve to support the South Koreans from 27 March to 1 April 2006. More than 70 ships and submarines, including guided missile cruiser Chancellorsville (CG-62), guided missile destroyers Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54), Fitzgerald (DDG-62), John S. McCain, and Stethem (DDG-63), guided missile frigates Gary (FFG-51) and Vandergrift (FFG-48), Essex, amphibious transport dock ship Juneau (LPD-10), dock landing ship Harper’s Ferry (LSD-49), attack submarine Houston (SSN-713), mine countermeasures ships Guardian (MCM-5) and Patriot (MCM-7), and salvage ship Safeguard (ARS-50), together with 70 to 80 shore-based aircraft, took part in the training.
The carrier took part in reception, staging, onward movement, and integration exercises as part of Foal Eagle 2006. The exercise included the deployment of some of these forces ashore within the Republic of Korea. The ship’s Supply Department thus deployed some sailors to Pusan AFB South Korea, in order to facilitate the extended logistics flow through Japanese and South Korean routes. Abraham Lincoln hosted a visit by an entourage of high-ranking South Korean officials on 29 March. Meanwhile, Safeguard and South Korean auxiliary Pyong Taek (ATS-27) salvaged a USAF F-16C Fighting Falcon that crashed off the South Korean coast on 14 March.
Abraham Lincoln visited Hong Kong from 6 to 10 April. The ship followed that port call by putting into Laem Chebang, Thailand, from 20 to 24 April. During her first such visit to that port, the ship moored in order to avoid running liberty boats for sailors going ashore, because of the inherent dangers during potentially rough weather. When the ship sailed from the area, she accomplished a passing exercise with Thai vessels, and officers from both nations participated in brief officer exchanges. She ship visited Singapore over 27 April to 1 May, following which she passed through the eastern portion of the Strait of Malacca. The ship completed what her historian noted as “intense flight operations” in the Java Sea on 3 May 2006. The U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, B. Lynn Pascoe, and Indonesian Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, that country’s Secretary-General of Defense, visited the ship and thanked her crewmembers for their help during the relief efforts of Operation Unified Assistance. Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, then led an entourage that visited the ship on 9 May.
While Abraham Lincoln sailed northward toward Japanese waters, Tropical Storm Chanchu (Pearl) swept across the Philippines, killing 32 people in mid-May. The storm continued on a westerly track into the South China Sea, where forecasters upgraded Chanchu to a typhoon, which turned northward and wreaked havoc with hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen caught in its path. Chanchu increased to such fury that forecasters upgraded the storm to a super typhoon. The tempest barreled northeastward and slammed into the Chinese coastline, where it killed at least another 25 people before finally spending its ferocity. Chanchu compelled Abraham Lincoln to change course by a circuitous route, in order to avoid the super typhoon’s powerful winds and heavy seas. The ship thus passed through Philippine waters via the Balabac Strait, between the Philippine island of Palawan and Sabah, Borneo, crossed the Sulu Sea, and transited the Surigao Strait between Mindanao and Samar. The carrier anchored for a brief visit off Sasebo, Japan, from 25 to 29 May. Abraham Lincoln then took part in two (separate) passing exercises with the Japanese, and performed burials at sea for 10 veterans from 5 to 14 June 2006.
Abraham Lincoln participated in Valiant Shield 06 in the Marianas Islands area from 18 to 23 June 2006. More than 20,000 servicemembers and almost 300 aircraft, including USAF B-2A Spirits flying from Whiteman AFB Missouri, along with 28 ships and submarines from carrier strike groups built around aircraft carriers Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan, together with Bonhomme Richard, took part in Valiant Shield 06. The participants began the exercise by staging a dramatic photographic event as all three carriers and their escorts sailed in a formation that brought the leading ships within 500 yards of each other, and as a Spirit led a flight of Hornets and Super Hornets overhead.
Aircraft flying from Abraham Lincoln performed simulated strike group defense, offensive air-to-air, maritime interdiction, and antisubmarine missions, and helicopters hunted submarines and accomplished naval special warfare missions with SEAL Team 1 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5. A C-2A Greyhound of VRC-30 flew 22 Indian, Japanese, and Russian observers from Anderson AFB on Guam on board Abraham Lincoln to watch the exercise on 17 and 18 June. The guests attended a video teleconference between Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, Ronald Reagan, and command ship Blue Ridge (LCC-19), involving Adm. Gary Roughead, Commander, Pacific Fleet, who broke his flag in Blue Ridge. The logistic challenge of supporting three carriers and their screens through Anderson AFB provided a daunting dilemma because of the limited infrastructure and long supply lines.
Abraham Lincoln entered the Third Fleet on 27 June. The ship then took part in RimPac 2006 from 30 June to 29 July. The multinational exercise involved 19,000 American, Australian, British, Canadian, Chilean, Japanese, Peruvian, and South Korean servicemembers, 35 ships, six submarines, 160 tactical aircraft, and amphibious forces. During part of the exercise, activists concerned over the impact of mid-frequency active sonar upon marine life, and following the precepts established by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 21 October 1972, pressured a district judge to issue a temporary restraining order on the Navy’s use of the systems. RimPac 2006 thus proceeded with severe antisubmarine warfare training restrictions imposed upon the participating commands.
The Navy successfully negotiated with the plaintiffs to have the temporary restraining order lifted for the remaining phase of the exercise on 9 July. This final phase involved a fictitious scenario where coalition ‘blue’ forces worked to enforce UN Security Council resolutions to prevent the ‘orange’ country from overtaking the ‘green’ country. Marines accomplished non-combatant evacuation operations and an amphibious beach assault, and aircraft flew close air support, surveillance, air strikes, antiship and antisubmarine warfare sorties. A delegation of 10 Chinese officers observed part of the exercise.
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 and the USAF 452nd Flight Test Squadron flew a Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration system in RimPac. The UAV made four successful maritime surveillance missions from Edwards AFB California to Hawaii, demonstrating the Global Hawk’s capability to identify targets in a coastal or littoral environment, while also successfully identifying targets in wide area maritime search and tracking. The Global Hawk logged about 100 hours during the exercise, and operators transmitted data to a team from VC-6, VX-1, and VX-20 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The team analyzed the information and forwarded the data to participants.
The Navy sank several decommissioned ships during RimPac 2006, including amphibious assault ship Belleau Wood (LHA-3), ammunition ship Mauna Kea (AE-22), combat store ship Mars (T-AFS-1), and Yacona, an 80 foot sludge removal barge. In addition to the various U.S. ships and aircraft that pummeled these ships, Canadian P-3C Orions, area air defense destroyer Algonquin (DDG.283), and multi-role patrol frigate Vancouver (FFH.331), together with South Korean aircraft, attacked the decommissioned ships. Over 1,000 guests including sailors from each of the participating countries joined a pierside reception on board Abraham Lincoln as she sailed from NS Pearl Harbor, after the final weekend of RimPac on 29 July.
Abraham Lincoln and Shoup returned her deployment to a crowd estimated at 7,000 at NS Everett on 8 August 2006. The following day the Navy awarded Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp., Seattle Division, a $10.94 million award fee/performance fee modification under a previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-4152), to complete a dry dock planned incremental availability for the carrier. The ship also returned the two SH-60B Seahawk aviation repairable pack-up kits to NAS North Island.
The carrier completed the dry dock planned incremental availability at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton from 29 August 2006 to 30 June 2007. About one third of the 3,300 sailors on board Abraham Lincoln worked by taking daily ferries that ran between Bremerton and Everett, while many of those who normally berthed on board the carrier housed ashore at the shipyard. The principal project included the preservation of the feed and potable water tanks, which required entering dry dock. In addition, the ship also accomplished the installation of the RIM-116A Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system, a lightweight quick-reaction ‘fire-and-forget’ missile designed to counter antiship missiles attacking in waves or streams. The carrier entered Drydock No. 6 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard over 6 September to 20 December. Todd Pacific Shipyards received a $5.24 million contract modification to provide year-around maintenance to the ship so as “to maximize vessel readiness” on 26 September.
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Brian Cissell of the ship’s company received the Bronze Star on 8 December, awarded for his service during Iraqi Freedom. Cissell had volunteered to serve ashore with the Army’s 101st Air Assault Division at Camp Victory South in Iraq from February to August 2006. The chief’s dedication, leadership, and expertise proved instrumental in coalition efforts toward a $30 million reconstruction program in southwestern Baghdad, where insurgents consistently threatened servicemembers with improvised explosive devices, rocket and mortar barrages, snipers, and firefights with ‘suicide squads’ of determined zealots.
Meanwhile, the carrier refloated from the drydock and moored to Pier B. Adm. Roughead then visited the ship to speak to crewmembers concerning their service during Operation Unified Assistance on 7 March 2007. The admiral also answered questions regarding topics that ranged from the service’s plans to create a’1,000-ship navy’ to hunt terrorists and pirates (combining U.S. and allied vessels to fill the requisite strength), individual augmentee deployments for the Global War on Terrorism, and the implementation of new naval uniforms.
Capt. Patrick D. Hall relieved Capt. McCawley as the Commanding Officer on 18 June 2007. The ship held a fast cruise from the pier from 23 to 25 June, and sailed from Puget Sound to carry out sea trials on 26 June. Approximately 5,000 visitors toured the ship’s brow, hangar bay, and flight deck during Independence Day festivities at NS Everett on 4 July.
The ship completed her flight deck certification in southern Californian waters over 12 to 15 July. The arrival of SH-60B Seahawks of HS-2 to provide search and rescue capabilities enabled the carrier to begin flight operations. The F/A-18E Super Hornets of VFA-137 and F/A-18C Hornets of VFA-151 followed them shortly thereafter. Test pilots of VX-23 performed precision approach drills to ensure the operation of the ship’s equipment within close tolerances. Following a brief visit to NAS North Island from 22 to 24 July, Abraham Lincoln again trained in southern Californian waters, including a TSTA. The carrier tested her defensive capabilities by firing four RIM-7P NATO Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, two of them at BQM-74E Chukar remote operated drones on 13 August.
An HH-60H Seahawk of HS-2 crashed while operating from Abraham Lincoln approximately 100 miles from the San Diego area at 2045 on 11 November 2007. The rescuers pulled all seven crewmembers from the water.
Vice Adm. Thomas J. Kilcline, Jr., Commander, Naval Air Forces, visited the ship on 3 December. Abraham Lincoln conducted antisubmarine exercises and JTFEx 03-08 in southern Californian waters from 3 to 30 January 2008. The training again achieved notoriety in the media, because of the ongoing struggle by activists about the effects of mid-frequency sonar upon the creatures of the sea. These activists succeeded in having certain constraints imposed upon naval sonar usage through January 2009. Matters boiled over for Abraham Lincoln a second time when the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered further limitations upon such sonar use on 3 January 2008.
A Navy spokesperson announced that the restrictions “created a significant and unreasonable risk” that impacted sonar training necessary to certify Carrier Strike Groups for deployments. In particular, the bathymetric features and extensive ranges of the waters off southern California provide unique opportunities to prepare sailors for battle. President Bush concluded that with the provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 27 October 1972, and at the recommendation of Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, that continuing these exercises concerned “the paramount interests of the United States.” The Navy thus announced that the service would take two important steps under existing laws and regulations to allow it to “conduct effective, integrated training with sonar” on 16 January.
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter signed a Decision of Memorandum agreeing to the alternative arrangements, which included 29 voluntary adaptive management measures, more thorough reporting procedures, and increased public participation, on 16 January. Secretary Winter visited command and control suites on board Abraham Lincoln and Momsen, and rode as a passenger in a Seahawk of HS-2 while the helo hunted submarines, in order to observe the exercise and to see first hand how sonar echoes impacted marine life on 26 January. Journalists also embarked to view the training, and to inspect naval protective measures to preserve marine life while sailors still staged realistic exercises to prepare for the rigors of war.
“I think this is a great opportunity to be able to actually demonstrate to the press something outside of the courtroom,” Secretary Winter said. “…If we are going to use sonar,” Comdr. Terrence Hoeft, the Executive Officer of HS-2 explained, “it is required that we start looking for any marine life 10 minutes prior to dipping. If we see marine life, we report it to the controlling unit and tell them the location, direction and type of marine life.” The exercise otherwise continued, and a NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) deployed from Geilenkirchen AB Germany for JTFEx 03-08, defending the carrier and her group from a simulated air attack on 30 January. The alliance selected the multi-national crew of the Sentry to represent the European members as a key element of the NATO Response Force.
Abraham Lincoln deployed to the Western and Southern Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Gulf on 13 March 2008. The F/A-18E Super Hornets of VFA-137, F/A-18F Super Hornets of VFA-2, F/A-18C Hornets of VFA-34 and VFA-151, E-2C Hawkeyes of VAW-116, EA-6B Prowlers of VAQ-131, C-2A Greyhounds of VRC-30 Detachment 2, and SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawks of HS-2 embarked with CVW-2 on board the carrier. The SH-60B Seahawks of HSL-47 deployed in detachments on board the accompanying ships.
Russell sailed from NS Pearl Harbor at 1329 on 24 March 2008, to rendezvous with the aircraft carrier. Russell uniquely contributed to telling the stories of these operations through “The Destroyermen,” a Web log that Lt. Comdr. Christopher E. van Avery, the ship’s Executive Officer, oversaw on the World Wide Web. This project marked one of the first such regular attempts by any naval man-of-war to maintain such a blog. Avery described their mission statement: “To deliver an authentic, unvarnished, informative and entertaining account of life aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer, report on USS RUSSELL’s contribution to the Global War on Terror and execution of America’s Maritime Strategy, and provide insight into the character of the American Sailor.”
Crewmembers ranging from Avery to junior enlisted sailors posted their daily observations and reflections to educate and enhance the public’s perceptions of the ships and their operations. Sailors also posted images of their time at sea, humorously dubbing their photographic gallery as “Eye Candy for Sailors.” In addition, Russell’s crew discovered an unexpected result from their blog when their writing enabled them to keep in touch with loved ones at home. “These daily blogs are so helpful,” one sailor’s wife wrote, “especially since it is sometimes days without hearing from my husband...It brings comfort.”
Abraham Lincoln conducted a passing exercise with Singaporean forces, including their newly commissioned—5 February—guided missile frigate Steadfast (F.70) in the Strait of Malacca on 15 April 2008. Comdr. Shawn Malone, HSL-47’s Commanding Officer, and Lt. Christopher Moore, made several landings in an SH-60B onto the flight deck of Steadfast. Singaporean Capt. Kelvin Lim, the Communications Officer of frigate Formidable (F.-68), observed the exercise from on board Shoup and from another Seahawk of HSL-47.
Tensions rose with the Iranians during this period, while Abraham Lincoln relieved Harry S. Truman in the Arabian Gulf on 1 May 2008. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael G. Mullen noted that as the Americans simultaneously fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, and while the Republic transitioned to new leadership during the Presidential elections, the situation would become “extraordinarily challenging.” The admiral addressed specific concerns with ongoing Iranian efforts to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction: “Iran is not going away. We need to be strong and really in the deterrent mode, to not be very predictable.”
The admiral also noted smuggling by traffickers in people and narcotics across the CentCom area of operations, and referred to al-Qāidah and Taliban thugs infiltrating across the porous Pakistani and Afghan borders with terrorists, weapons, and drugs—used to finance their operations. The Iranian Pasdaran (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) and key operatives known as the Quds Force, provided al-Qāidah and the Taliban with a wide range of weapons including improvised explosive devices (and the more horrific explosively formed projectiles), rocket propelled grenades, mortars, 107 millimeter rockets, and (apparently) shoulder-launched or man-portable air defense weapons.
Adm. Mullen, Adm. Eric T. Olson, Commander, Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, USA, Commander CentCom, Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, Commander, Multinational Force Iraq, Gen. David D. McKiernan, USA, Commander, International Security Assistance Force (in Afghanistan), and Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq P. Kayani, that army’s Chief of Staff, met during a conference on board Abraham Lincoln while she steamed in the North Arabian Sea on 26 August 2008. The leaders discussed strategic and operational considerations in the Global War on Terrorism, in particular key aspects of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“There is…” Mullen explained to an interviewer “…a growing complexity and coordination among extremist groups there [Afghanistan]—an almost syndicate-like behavior—that has resulted in new and ever more sophisticated attacks on coalition forces.” The admiral elaborated upon a key element of the fighting: “The safe havens in the border regions provide launching pads for these sorts of attacks, and they need to be shut down.” Mullen and Petraeus observed flight operations from the bridge of the ship the following day, prior to their departure.
Abraham Lincoln returned from her deployment to NS Everett on 12 October 2008. The ship steamed 58,370 miles during the cruise, the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe twice. Aircraft flew a total of more than 7,100 sorties—including 2,307 combat sorties—from the ship in support of allied soldiers and marines on the ground during the deployment. These aircraft dropped 255,963 pounds of ordnance on enemy troops.
An F/A-18D (BuNo 164017), flown by 28-year-old 1st Lt. Daniel Neubauer, USMC, of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101, crashed while completing carrier qualifications on board Abraham Lincoln in southern Californian waters, during the forenoon watch on 8 December 2008. The Hornet apparently suffered mechanical failure and slammed into an area in the University City section of San Diego, destroying at least two houses and damaging three more structures, and killing 60-year-old Suk I. Kim, her 36-year-old daughter Young M. Lee, and Lee’s 15-month-old daughter Grace and two-month-old baby Rachel. Neubauer ejected and survived the accident with minor injuries.
Abraham Lincoln completed additional carrier qualifications for T-45C Goshawks of Carrier Training Wings 1 and 2 and Training Squadrons 7, 9, 21, and 22 from 10 to 13 December. The ship came about for NS Everett and reached a position nearly 300 miles from the Californian coast when she received a distress call forwarded by the Coast Guard, at approximately 2100 on 13 December. An injured sailor on board Liberian-flagged merchant ship Marie Rickmers required immediate medical attention. A Coast Guard MH-60J Jayhawk, piloted by Comdr. Sean Cross, USCG, from CGAS San Diego, landed on board Abraham Lincoln at 0130. Sailors refueled the helo, which picked-up a doctor and a Hospital Corpsman, and then flew to rendezvous with Marie Rickmers. The merchant ship’s cranes, together with cargo carried on the deck, impeded the rescue. The helo hovered overhead and lowered a rescue swimmer, Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class Robyn Hamilton, USCG, to the crowded deck. Hamilton attached a back board carrying the patient to the hoist, and the helo brought him on board, followed by Hamilton. A Coast Guard Eurocopter MH-65C Dolphin transferred the patient ashore, where a Coast Guard HC-130H Hercules flew him to a medical facility in San Francisco.
The 43 Cryptological Technicians (CTs) and Intelligence Specialists (ISs) on board Abraham Lincoln merged into the newly established Intelligence Department, effective on 1 January 2009. The ship became the fifth carrier in the Navy to accomplish the change, which better reflected the challenges facing the Fleet in projected conflicts. Abraham Lincoln completed a $350 million nine-month programmed incremental availability at Puget Sound just after the New Year of 2010. The ship sailed for her sea trials from Puget Sound from 13 to 18 January 2010. Capt. John D. Alexander relieved Capt. Hall as the ship’s Commanding Officer on 28 January 2010. The carrier then accomplished her flight deck certification from 2 to 15 February, including a brief stop at San Diego from 5 to 7 February, followed over 23 February to 10 March by an inspection and survey and ammunition onload.
The ship visited San Diego twice during this period, from 28 February to 1 March, and again from 2 to 5 March (a brief transit past NAS North Island separated the two visits). Abraham Lincoln carried out a TSTA, during which she accomplished live test firings of her CIWS and NATO Sea Sparrow systems, from 17 April to 17 May. Following the TSTA, the carrier took part in a CompTuEx over 15 July to 18 August. The exercise included the first live test firing of the newly-installed RAM system on 18 July. The ship visited San Diego twice during this period, from 19 to 23 July, and from 12 to 14 August.
Abraham Lincoln, with CVW-2 embarked, deployed to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf on 7 September 2010. The ship crossed the International Date Line and entered the Seventh Fleet on 25 September, passed through the Surigao Strait on 4 October, the Strait of Balabac the following day, and on 7 October the Strait of Malacca. She then visited Port Klang, Malaysia, from 8 to 12 October. Following the passage of the Strait of Malacca and a voyage across the Bay of Bengal, the ship reached the Fifth Fleet on 17 October.
The carrier supported Operation Enduring Freedom from 20 October to 2 November. The following day, Abraham Lincoln passed through the Strait of Hormuz, and began her participation in Operation New Dawn from 4 to 11 November. On 1 September 2010, Operation Iraqi Freedom had transitioned to New Dawn. The transition signaled a formal end to U.S. military operations within Iraq and a shift to stability operations. The U.S. undertook three primary missions during New Dawn: to advise, assist, and train the Iraqi Security Forces; carry out partnered counterterrorism; and support provincial reconstruction teams to help rebuild Iraqi civil capacity.
The ship too part in multi-scenario Exercise Shamal across the Central and Southern Arabian Gulf from 13 to 15 November, and put in to Bahrain for a brief visit from 17 to 21 November. The following day, Abraham Lincoln passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Sea and returned to fight in Enduring Freedom though 20 December. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates visited the ship overnight on 7 and 7 December 2010. The carrier then participated in Exercise Beacon Flash within the Gulf of Oman from 10 to 17 December. During a number of exercises while on this deployment, EA-6B Prowlers, F/A-18 Hornets, and Learjet aircraft flew missile profiles to simulate enemy threats against the ship.
The Navy announced that Nimitz was to replace Abraham Lincoln as the carrier homeported at NS Everett on 9 December. Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr., made the decision in order to enable Abraham Lincoln to complete a four-year refueling complex overhaul in Hampton Roads, Virginia, scheduled to commence in 2011. Nimitz was to make the shift following her completion of a docked planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, scheduled to conclude in December 2011.
Abraham Lincoln passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf on 22 December, and then visited Jebel Ali over the Christmas holidays from 23 to 27 December. The ship sailed outbound through the Strait of Hormuz on 27 December, and concluded the year supporting Enduring Freedom from within the Gulf of Oman. She launched a total of 3,230 sorties while sailing as part of the Fifth Fleet in 2010. These sorties included 1,828 flights in support of Enduring Freedom and 76 for New Dawn—including a combined total of 1,107 combat sorties for both operations. Abraham Lincoln navigated 47,824 nautical miles, including the passage of 17 straits, during the year.
Capt. Alexander noted in his Commander’s Assessment of their year upon the adverse impact of the extended operational tempo on his crew, but added proudly: “For the year, ABRAHAM LINCOLN spent 216 days away from homeport and still increased the overall advancement rate by 21 percent.” During the various training evolutions throughout the year, the ship fired two RIM-7P NATO Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, the single RAM missile, and 7,992 of the 20 mm rounds from CIWS. The carrier continued to integrate into social media, and her Facebook page counted an average of 24,000 monthly users.
The ship subsequently came about, reaching the Seventh Fleet on 10 February 2011. She visited Changi Naval Base at Singapore from 16 to 20 February. The carrier entered the Third Fleet area of responsibility on 6 March, and from 10 to 14 March visited NS Pearl Harbor. Abraham Lincoln put into San Diego from 19 to 21 March, and returned from deployment to NS Everett on 24 March 2011.
The carrier performed carrier qualifications for the Prowlers of VAQ-131 over 27 June to 1 July. She then completed a variety of testing and certification from 13 to 17 July, broken by a brief visit to San Diego on 17 and 18 July. The ship carried out carrier qualifications in southern Californian waters from 18 to 25 July.
Abraham Lincoln visited Los Angeles, California, for L.A. Navy Week from 25 July to 1 August 2011. The carrier occupied a berth at Los Angeles World Cruise Center, San Pedro. Additional Navy ships that visited the area included Princeton, guided missile destroyer Chafee (DDG-90), and mine countermeasures ship Champion (MCM-4), which moored further up the channel near the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Following Abraham Lincoln’s participation in Navy Week, she visited San Diego on 1 and 2 August, before completing fleet replenishment squadron carrier qualifications in southern Californian waters over 2 to 8 August. She then returned to San Diego on 8 and 9 August. The carrier accomplished a 1A3 Availability—a surge TSTA—from 15 August to 9 September, and returned to sea for a CompTuEx from 15 September to 18 October.
Abraham Lincoln, with CVW-2 embarked, deployed to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf on 7 December 2011. The commanders of Carrier Strike Group 9 and Destroyer Squadron 9 broke their flags from the carrier. The F/A-18E Super Hornets of VFA-137, F/A-18F Super Hornets of VFA-2, F/A-18C Hornets of VFA-34 and VFA-151, E-2C Hawkeyes of VAW-116, EA-6B Prowlers of VAQ-131, C-2A Greyhounds of VRC-30, SH-60R Seahawks of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77, and SH-60S Seahawks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 embarked with CVW-2 on board the carrier. Guided missile cruiser Cape St. George (CG-71) and guided missile destroyers Momsen and Sterett (DDG-104) sailed with Abraham Lincoln.
The ship sailed 52,518 nautical miles, including the passage of 11 straits, during 2011. She launched 775 combat sorties in support of Enduring Freedom and executed more than 7,700 arrested landings. The ship installed the Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) system. ROVER enabled a forward air controller to spot targets in real-time images acquired by the system’s sensors. The carrier also installed the Rapid Attack Information Dissemination Execution Delay (RAIDER) system. RAIDER enabled Abraham Lincoln to send snapshots of the images taken by forward-looking infrared systems of aircraft to the carrier for analysis.
At one point during 2011, the ship suffered what the Combat Systems Division reported as “catastrophic damage” to her AN/SPS-49 air search radar antenna during heavy weather, which necessitated the installation of a replacement antenna. During another incident, the flying squad carried out a toxic gas drill when an actual R134A refrigerant leak occurred in the 190A/190B Reefer, requiring the response of the team.
Abraham Lincoln and Cape St. George visited Laem Chabang, Thailand, from 6 to 10 January 2012. At 1237 on 31 January, an MH-60S of HSC-12 spotted disabled Iranian fishing dhow Sohaila in the Arabian Gulf, adrift with nine crewmembers on board. Sohaila’s master made a distress call, explaining that his engine overheated but evaluating his mariners as in good condition. Guided missile destroyer John Paul Jones (DDG-53) of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group closed the dhow, whose crewmembers waved a cloth to signal for help. John Paul Jones’ Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team boarded Sohaila, repaired the engine’s fan belt, and assessed that a foul propeller further impeded the dhow’s ability to make shore. A Seahawk flew Explosive Ordnance Disposal Senior Chief Michael J. Negri and a team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1131 divers, embarked on board Abraham Lincoln, from the carrier to the destroyer, and the divers then reached the stricken fishing vessel in a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. The Americans repaired the dhow, provided food and water to the fishermen, and returned to their ships. Sohailia resumed her voyage.
The carrier visited Bahrain from 2 to 5 February 2012, hosting a pierside reception for dignitaries including Vice Adm. Mark I. Fox, Commander, NavCent, on 2 February. Abraham Lincoln launched her first combat sorties in support of Enduring Freedom during the New Year on 16 February. While Abraham Lincoln operated in support of Enduring Freedom, a team of Ground Liaison Officers of the Army’s 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment served as communications links between soldiers and marines on the ground in Afghanistan and the aircrew of CVW-2. This detachment had previously sailed on board Carl Vinson. An operational average of barely .01 percent of soldiers served on board naval vessels, but this detachment utilized the Combined Regional Information Exchange system and Secret Internet Protocol Router network phones to communicate with the troops on the ground, facilitating air strikes from the ship. The soldiers also helped to decipher the acronyms and codes utilized by the different services. Vice Adm. embarked on board the ship overnight on 19 and 20 March 2012.
Country music star Toby Keith performed a United Services Organization (USO) sponsored concert for more than 4,000 sailors in the hangar bay of Abraham Lincoln on 23 April. Miss America Teresa Scanlan made another USO-sponsored visit to the ship from 7 to 9 May. Scanlan joined the ship’s band in performing a concert for the crew, observed flight operations, and on 8 May briefly visited Cape St. George. Kuwaiti Air Force Maj. Gen. Abdulrzaq Al-Awadhi, and Defense Attaché of Kuwait City Brig. Gen. Rick B. Mattson, USAF, led a joint U.S.-Kuwaiti entourage on board on 9 May. The visitors watched two F/A-18E Super Hornets of VFA-2, each with a Kuwaiti pilot riding as a passenger in the backseat, fly by the ship. Vice Adm. John W. Miller, Commander, NavCent, visited the carrier on 4 and 5 July. The ship passed northbound through the Suez Canal on 16 July and from 17 to 22 July visited Antalya, Turkey. Abraham Lincoln returned from her deployment to her new home port of NS Norfolk, Va., on 7 August 2012. The ship subsequently began a four year refueling complex overhaul.
Detailed history under construction
Mark L. Evans
4 April 2012