U.S. Navy’s longest cruise since 1972


On 23 March 2011 amphibious assult ship USS Bataan left its homeport Norfolk Naval Dockyard, Virginia, USA for which would turn out to be the longest cruise for a U.S. Navy ship since 1972.
Purpose: take part in Operation Odyssey Dawn, code name for the U.S. participation in operations in Libya, to support the rebels in this North African state. After completing this assignment the Bataan group continued on through the Suez Canal to the Arabian Sea. From there missions were flown to Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom). USS Bataan also participated in Operation Unified Protector. Recce Reports’ Henk de Ridder was invited to sail along from January 12 to 14th, 2012.

Impressive arsenal flying material
On board USS Bataan (LHD-5) were 1,500 men and women of the U.S. Navy and 1,800 marines. USS Bataan is part of an Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG). The two other ships of the Bataan Readiness Group are the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) -with on board CH-53E’s- and USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), a supply ship. Under command of VMM 263 an impressive arsenal flying equipment is aboard USS Bataan: MV-22B Osprey’s, AV-8 Harrier IIs, AH-1W Cobra’s, UH-1N Huey’s and MH-60S Knight Hawks.

Longest cruise
On 3 February 2012 USS Bataan returned to the port of Norfolk terminating a 10½-month cruise. During this cruise it sailed 55,000 nautical miles (which is more than 2½ times around the earth) and 5,305 hours were flown. It became the longest cruise since 1972, when USS Forrestal set sail to the coast of Vietnam.

This story was published in the December 2012 issue of Full Stop Magazine and in the July 2013 issue of Take-Off Magazine.