207 consecutive days at sea could be modern-day record, says Navy captain
By GREG KLEIN | The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y. | Published: August 29, 2020
(Tribune News Service) — Capt. Mike Desmond spent 207 consecutive days at sea this year, which is believed to be a modern U.S. record, he said.
"This hasn't been vetted by the Navy, yet," he said Wednesday, Aug. 26. "When we researched it, it looks like we shattered the record. The previous longest time at sea was 160 days."
According to the Navy Times, that record was set in 2002 by the USS Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the Afghanistan War.
Desmond was on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose crew ended up at sea for 206 days, but he was transferred late in that stint to take over command of the USS Vella Gulf. The Eisenhower docked one day earlier than the Vella Gulf, he said, so he spent an extra day at sea before returning to his home port of Norfolk, Virginia
Desmond said the long deployment happened by accident. The Eisenhower was in the Mediterranean Sea at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, making docking impossible, he said.
"Normally, we get very excited about port days," he said. "At the time, when there was an outbreak in Italy, we saw the writing on the wall that we probably couldn't make a port visit."
Despite the change and the lengthy time at sea, Desmond said the crew kept its morale high.
"That's the really weird thing," he said. "Everybody was in really good spirits and it was sort of matter of fact. We realized we had a mission to do. Once the disappointment (of not going to port) wore off, we realized that we might set a record. We really started to focus on the positive more than anything."
Desmond graduated from Sharon Springs Central School in 1987 and got an associate degree from SUNY Cobleskill and a bachelor degree in environmental science from SUNY Plattsburgh. He later got a master's degree in military science and diplomacy from Norwich University.
"I spent my whole life in Sharon before college," he said.
His parents are also upstate natives. Tony Desmond is from near Canajoharie and Patti (Brigham) Desmond is from Cherry Valley, and they said they were proud of him long before his Navy record.
"Oh, yeah," said Tony Desmond on Tuesday, Aug. 25. "He's a good guy. He's always been a hard worker, even in school."
Desmond said he wasn't planning to be a Navy "lifer," but once he started serving, it turned into something he didn't want to give up. He enlisted in 1994 and then got selected to go to officer training school.
"I think the Navy is where I was supposed to end up," he said.
Desmond and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Norfolk. They have three grown children. And while his career has caused him to miss some family time, he said they have always been supportive of his desire to serve.
"It is a great amount of time away from family, of course," he said, "but I am blessed with a wonderful wife and excellent family."
In return, "the Navy has been very good to me and my family," he said. "I am blessed."
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