NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - After a five month wait, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group – which includes the USS Truman, USS Mason, USS Buckley, USS Gettysburg and USS San Jacinto -- left for the first leg of deployment Monday.
But even after all that time waiting to be deployed, there seemed to be a sense of urgency on the pier at Naval Station Norfolk Monday morning. The crew of the Truman almost looked anxious to cast off, fearful that someone at the Pentagon might delay their deployment like they did in February.
"We were frustrated. Quite truthfully there was a lot of us who were frustrated in February because we wanted to go," said Captain Robert Roth, CO USS Truman.
"It was a pretty big shock to find out right before we were supposed to leave that we weren't going. We were just getting everything ready and then they just kind of cancelled on us," said Jake Harris, a BM3 on the Truman. "I think we're all ready to get out, just to get it over with."
There is also a bit of irony in this deployment -- a ship that was short-changed by sequestration in February is now getting its fair share of the dwindling defense dollars.
"We've been fully resourced," said Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeny, Strike Group Commander. "That's the kind of magic thing and I remind our crews. Everyday you read about what's going on with the budget, etc.,etc. but for us we're the lucky ones, we really are."
Believe it or not, even the family members who had to say goodbye, for real this time, feel fortunate.
"It's important," said Jeff Belmont, who's son is aboard the Truman. "You know I'm glad my son's able to do what he can to keep the peace."
Question is, how much longer will the defense budget keep them afloat?
It will be spring when the sailors from the Truman Strike Group return. The temperatures will be a little cooler. Hopefully the budget climate in Washington will have changed by then as well.
The Truman Carrier Strike Group – made of about 6,000 sailors and marines -- will be operating in the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf, where they will take part in counter-piracy operations and work with allied and partner maritime forces, focusing on maritime and theater security efforts.
For now, the guess work is over; the Truman and her sister ships are finally back to doing the nation's business.
"So the fact that the families have good confidence that we're back in the normal rotation and you know, the fact that they know when we're coming home essentially, ah next spring. I think that brings a little bit of transparency and clarity for them," Sweeny said.
But the deployment Monday has not removed the doubt and uncertainty caused by the sudden change in plans just five months ago.
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