By Debbie Gregory.
Currently, U.S. Navy Carriers are slated for six to seven month long deployments in 32 month rotations. With missions that are conducted in support of the wars in the Middle East, maritime stare-downs with Iran, a standoff with Syria, and natural disasters (including the tsunami in the Philippines), most carrier deployments get extended months longer. A new deployment schedule released by the U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, VA, could see deployment schedules changed to set, eight month deployments that happen every 36 months.
The new deployment schedule will lengthen each deployment. The benefits of this new schedule are two-fold for Big Navy. First, the Navy can better plan for overhauls, upgrades and repairs of their ships that have been overtaxed over the past several years. When carriers and escort ships’ deployments get extended, it has an impact on the amount of time that ships can be in port for repairs.
Secondly, Big Navy contends that the new schedule will improve the quality of life for Navy families. Navy leadership believes that even though each deployment will be longer, the time in between each deployment will be greater. It is estimated that with the change, affected sailors will be in their home ports for approximately 68% of the time. The time spent with families is expected to increase 8-10%, with the new schedule. But Navy families will hopefully find the change to their liking, if it can alleviate their stress caused by constantly extended deployments.
The new deployment schedule is expected to take effect in late 2014, when the carrier, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) returns to Norfolk from its scheduled deployment. The new schedule will be placed on all carriers and their escorts. The new deployment schedule will affect 85% of the fleet. Big Navy predicts that the deployment schedule will extend to amphibious strike groups and submarine groups within the next few years.