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Ships under way amid uncertainty

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the supply ship USS Sacramento could both return on deployment within a year of returning home from the Arabian Gulf.

Unsubstantiated rumors heard in Kitsap’s Navy community late this week indicated the ships were leaving this weekend for a six-month deployment.

But on Thursday, all Navy officials would confirm was that the Carl Vinson was to get under way yesterday to steam to San Diego to pick up its airwing to continue training. The Everett-based frigate USS Ingraham, which normally steams with the Carl Vinson, also got under way on Thursday.

“We, the Carl Vinson, have no deployment orders, the Ingraham has received no orders to deploy,” said Carl Vinson spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Scott Miller. “It’s certainly possible when you’re under way you could receive follow-on orders . . . Our job is to be prepared to answer that tasking.”

Miller said Thursday the Sacramento was not getting under way this weekend as the Carl Vinson sailed to San Diego to pick up its aircraft.

The Sacramento has been pierside at the Naval Magazine Indian Island in Jefferson County for the last two weeks.

The Vinson and the Sacramento both arrived in the Arabian Gulf in October 2001 just after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks on the East Coast.

Carl Vinson was the first aircraft carrier to launch air strikes during the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, which continues today. The ships returned to Bremerton in January 2002.

The Carl Vinson completed a record-setting overhaul at PSNS in August — knocking a month off a scheduled six-month refurbishment.

Sacramento ended a three-month overhaul at Todd Pacific Shipyards, in West Seattle. Since returning to sea, both ships began the qualification process leading to another deployment. The Carl Vinson battlegroup is currently scheduled to deploy in the May or June of this year.

Meanwhile, the Everett-based carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and the Bremerton supply ship USS Camden which both departed for deployment to the Gulf region in July 2002, were homeward bound when turned around by the Navy officials on New Year’s Eve.

Both ships had been relieved of their duties in the Gulf in early December by the USS Constellation battlegroup which includes the Bremerton supply ship USS Rainier.

Currently, the Lincoln is having flight deck resurfacing work done at Perth, Australia and the Camden was in port at Hobart, Tasmania.

Their future under way status is unknown.

— Fred Watson, John Olson and Erin Stuber contributed to this story.

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