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Carriers Truman, Eisenhower swap deployment dates

The nuclear aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman approaches the pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., Friday, April 18, 2014, after a 9-month deployment to the Middle East.

STEVE HELBER/AP

By MIKE HIXENBAUGH | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: October 6, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. (MCT) — The aircraft carriers Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman are trading places. One will deploy sooner than planned; the other will deploy later, the Navy announced Monday morning.

The unusual swap affects thousands of Norfolk sailors and their families and stems, at least in part, from delays at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where the Eisenhower has been undergoing maintenance since last fall.

Under the new plan, the Truman will take the Eisenhower's place, deploying to the Middle East sometime in late 2015. The Eisenhower will then deploy sometime in 2016, when the Truman was originally scheduled to ship out.

The switch does not affect the deployment schedule for air wings or surface ships attached to each carrier strike group. The aircraft squadrons and ships that had been scheduled to deploy with the Eisenhower, Carrier Strike Group 8, will instead deploy with the Truman late next year. The Eisenhower will deploy as falgship of the Truman's longtime strike group, Carrier Strike Group 10.

The Eisenhower was originally scheduled to come out of Norfolk Naval Shipyard next month and begin training for deployment. But now the ship is expected to remain in the yard at least until February, said Jeff Cunningham, a shipyard spokesman. Several of the ship's systems -- including shafts, rudders and distilling units -- have required more maintenance than anticipated, Cunningham said.

Another factor that could worsen the delay: The shipyard paused all but the most critical nuclear maintenance work last month after discovering lapses in worker training and the handling of potentially contaminated materials.

The Truman, which returned from a nine-month deployment in April, will enter the Portsmouth shipyard in the coming weeks for an abbreviated maintenance period before beginning preparations for deployment.

It's been a hectic couple of years for both ships. Federal budget cuts forced the Navy to delay the Truman's deployment in February 2013, days before it was set to ship out. That same year, the Eisenhower completed an odd, split cruise that spanned almost 13 months, interrupted by a rare two-month intermission in Norfolk.

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