Hello once again!
I recently returned from a deployment as part of the Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eight (CCSG-8) staff, embarked on the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). What that means is that I was on the TRUMAN, but I wasn’t technically a member of her crew. Instead, I was a part of the staff that directly supported the Rear Admiral who was in charge of the entire Carrier Strike Group (CSG). Since the CVN is also the largest ship in the CSG, it also has the most room for office space, and the best communications capabilites of any ship in the group. That makes it a natural choice for the Admiral’s Flag Ship.
Preparing for Deployment
When I selected my orders for CCSG-8, I was expecting to show up in April 2022, be underway for about a month and a half, and then return with the rest of the CSG at the regularly scheduled end of their deployment in May 2022. Howver, between the time I selected my orders and the time I actually arrived on board, Comrade Putin decided to initiate his “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine. As tends to happen, the commander of the United States European Command (EUCOM) decided that they absolutely needed to have a carrier on station in European waters, which then meant that TRUMAN and her CSG were extended by 4 months. That meant that my month and half of underway time jumped to four and a half months!
This was a unique situation for me; I was going to be joining my command in the middle of deployment. In the past, I’ve been on board when the ship I was assigned to left homeport at the start of the deployent. Logistaclly, this meant that I had to pack everything I would need for four and a half months into a backpack and two carry-on items that would travel with me via commercial air. It was a bit of doing, and the bags were quite heavy, but I managed it!
I left Norfolk on 15 April, traveling to New York and then on to Rome via commercial air. From Rome, I traveled on a smaller Italian airline down to Sicily, where I stayed for two nights at the Naval Air Station in Signella, Italy. On 18 April, I boarded a C-2A Greyhound that took me the final leg of my trip out to the TRUMAN, which was underway in the Ionian Sea at the time.
In late April, the TRUMAN made a port visit at Trieste. The city lies at the extreme northern end of the Adriatic Sea. I ended up coming back to TRUMAN to sleep each night, meeting up with a group of fellow CCSG-8 staffers during the day to sight-see. We mostly ended up walking around the city, which has some beautiful architecture, and eating lots of delicious food.
Our next port visit came in May, when we anchored off of Naples, Italy. This time around, I actually made hotel reservations, and also was ablet to tag along on a trip several friends were making to see Rome, which was about 2 hours away by train. While in Rome, we took a tour of the Vatican museums, incluiding the Sistine Chapel.
The following month, we pulled into Marseille, France. Several of my CCSG-8 friends and I had hotels near the large marina that is the focus of much of Marseille’s tourist industry, and were able to find some incredible French food to eat. Since it was June, there were a lot of cruise passengers passing through, with large ships pulling in and out on a daily basis. As big as the TRUMAN is, these liners were even bigger! I also made it a point to head out to the local Warhammer store to buy some models as souvenirs. During this stop, I was also fortunate enough to attend a reception that was hosted by the French general in command of the region’s military units. The reception was held at a beautiful 19th century chateau, and was a great opportunity to meet some of our counterparts in the French armed forces.
Palma De Mallorca
In July, we made what turned out to be our final port visit, in Palme De Mallorca, Spain. Palma is a small island in the Mediterranean, and is geared towards catering to European vacationers. The hotel I stayed at was smaller, but less expensive, then the two I had stayed at in Naples and Marsellie. Still, it proved to be more than large enough to comfortably relax in. We did some walking around the city, and also made a stop to see the large Gothic cathedral that dominates its skyline. I made another trip to a game store, this time to an independent store called the Goblin Trader, to pick up a couple of more souvenirs for myself. Once again we enjoyed the local cuisine, which featured lots of Iberian ham and seafood, served as tapas.
Our port call for August was planned to be Lisbon, Portugal, but sadly it was not to be. EUCOM decided that our services in the Mediterranean were needed until the next CSG, centered around the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77), was on station to relieve us. That forced us to cancel our port call and extend our deployment by about another two weeks. It’s a shame, too, as I was really looking forward to seeing Portugal. The BUSH arrived on 27 August, and we could finally start our journey home.
Crossing the Atlantic was a bit of an adventure; Hurricane Danielle formed more or less right on the path we were planning to take, forcing us to divert to the south to drive around the worst of the winds, seas, and rain. Fortunately, by speeding up by another knot or so, our overall timeline wasn’t affected. Once we completed our transit, TRUMAN flew of the air wing back to shore, and off-loaded the munitions she had been carrying for the aircraft to use. That process took several days, but we were finally able to pull back into Norfolk on 12 September 2022.
And there you have it! 5 months and roughly 40,000 miles after I first departed Norfolk, I returned home once again. Now that I’m back, I’m hoping to get back into a more routine blogging schedule. Until next time!