A photo of five U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers docked in Norfolk, Va., the world’s largest naval station, has gone viral on the Internet amid speculation the ships could be sitting ducks for a Pearl Harbor-type attack or were docked due to sequestration.
According to a U.S. Navy spokesman who spoke on background to WND/G2Bulletin, the first supposition is false while the second is partially true.
The photo first appeared in early February amid concerns that having the carriers lined up in one location breached long-standing Navy protocol.
One website called it a “Big Mistake in Norfolk! Remember Pearl Harbor 1941” and “an outrage of epic proportions.”
A caption at another website under a photo of the carriers said the Obama administration had ordered them into harbor for “routine” inspections and that heads of the Navy were flabbergasted by the presumed violation of protocol.
Further comments said that the lineup was the first since Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.
“Well, it’s not Pearl Harbor,” the Navy spokesman said. “We are living in a different world now and having them lined up is not unprecedented. Who is going to attack us?” he asked.
“We have multiple carriers in (port) at any one time,” he added.
The photo was taken before Christmas 2012, not early February 2013, the Navy spokesman pointed out, and the ships were in port for the Christmas holiday.
“We try to get ships back to port on holiday,” he said.
The carriers docked together in Norfolk were the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS George H.W. Bush, USS Enterprise, USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Abraham Lincoln.
According to the Navy spokesman, the USS Enterprise has been retired and is in the process of being dismantled.
The Enterprise is 50 years old. Once dismantled, the nuclear fuel will be removed and it will be towed to Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest for scrap.
The Eisenhower was deployed in mid-February and is on its way to the Persian Gulf where it will relieve the USS John C. Stennis. It had been at Norfolk for two months to get its flight deck resurfaced.
The Navy spokesman said that at all times there has been a carrier task force on duty in the Persian Gulf, contrary to speculation that even the Stennis carrier group had been recalled due to sequestration.
The USS Bush, contrary to speculation, had not been ordered into port for “routine inspections.” Instead, it was undergoing tests to take on aircraft, which it has not done yet.
However, its deployment was canceled due to sequestration.
In a letter to “families and friends,” Capt. Brian “Lex” Luther, commanding officer of the USS Bush, admitted that the carrier’s deployment had been delayed due to sequestration.
“Thank you for your patience, understanding and support as our schedule continues to change because of current funding concerns,” Luther wrote.
“It’s not always easy to be part of the Navy support team but I want you to know that you and your families’ needs are always a priority for the leadership on board CVN 77,” Luther said. “We understand the stresses that come with the current uncertain fiscal climate and promise to share any information we received with our Sailors as soon as we can.
“Sequestration and the lack of an appropriations bill will no doubt have an impact on the Navy’s readiness through at least 2014,” he added. “Our focus here on GHWB is to remain as skilled and proficient as possible so that we are able to respond in the way the nation has expected and depended when the time comes.”
Sources said the USS Truman, like the USS Eisenhower, was to be deployed to the Persian Gulf under Central Command in early February. The mission similarly was canceled, however, with the Eisenhower being the only carrier and task force group heading there.
The USS Lincoln also had been ordered to port for what was described as a two-year refueling mission, but the Navy canceled that effort due to sequestration.
The website of the USS Lincoln showed a series of recent photographs of crew members, on land, doing physical training to pass the time until Congress can approve new operating funds for the carrier and the others delayed due to sequestration.