This year the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) was out for 161 days on operations in the Middle East, and the naval creates a bubble that minimizes the infection of crews when visiting chosen ports.

The last time any naval crew spent so much time at sea was during Sept. 11, 2001 in the terror attacks. During this time, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was very active and was on guard in this tense moment, reported in USNI.

Along with the carrier, another ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56), departed the Naval Station at Norfolk Virginia last January 17 to do graduation exercises that led to sea deployment.

According to a navy spokesman, the Naval History and Heritage Command do not track the number of days that ships spend at sea. Two ships have logged more days at sea records during peacetime. These records are now broken, reported the navy in a statement.

Other examples of US Naval assets extending their operations due to unusual times is the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Like the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, it went on for a straight 160 days on operations supporting the American 9/11 reaction. Interestingly, the USS Eisenhower was in operation theatre for 152 days, when the Iran Hostage crisis happened in 1980, cited in Marine Link.

US Naval operations in the Persian Gulf

The saber-rattling in the Persian Gulf by Iran has prompted the 5th fleet that includes the USS Eisenhower and USS San Jacinto to be there from March 9. All these activities were in support of US presence operations to box out Iran in the region. All the counter Iran activities began in 2019 in May, mentioned Navy Mil.

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Their locations during this time are in the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea, within striking distance of the Persian Gulf.

One of the most obvious reasons for the extended operations, it is port facilities that are needed for the crew. Another is a concern for the COVID-19 pandemic situation which sidelined the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and other US Navy ships.

Limiting contact before and during operations

5th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jim Malloy had all port visits disallowed in early March with the fast spread of COVID-19.

Eisenhower CO Capt. Kyle Higgins, in a statement, said that the pandemic with all the difficulties it brings will be overcome, making the Navy stronger. This adds the effort of the crew to do their jobs every day.

 Before the pandemic, many liberty port facilities meant for carriers weren't many in the Middle East not in the Persian Gulf. Several carriers that visited later went to Duqm in Oman that provides liberty facilities for carrier personnel.

The US Navy is creating these liberty ports to lessen exposure to COVID-19. Creating this bubble will protect the crew and keep servicemen COVID-free. 

Some of these COVID-free ports are in Spain, Guam, and Japan. The USS Nimitz is docked in Guam, and all measures to limited infection are in place.

The Spain, Rota liberty port facilities were tested by the crew of the USS Indiana (attack submarine) on its first deployment. Commander of Task Force 69, Capt. Ted O'Harrah said the sub's presence means the US Navy means business.

Carriers like the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its crews need a break. These ports give their crews time to unwind.

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