Attack jets line the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln as it maneuvers with the USS Kearsarge in the Arabian Sea. Navy photo

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge conducted joint operations in the Arabian Sea last week amid rising tensions with Iran.

The carrier, which will transfer to its new home port of San Diego after the current deployment, joined the Norfolk-based Kearsarge and the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune, NC.

“The exercises and training we are doing with Amphibious Squadron Six, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Kearsarge are aimed towards increasing our lethality and agility to respond to threats, and deterring destabilizing actions in this important region,” said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12.

F-18 Super Hornets from Carrier Air Wing 7 trained with AV-8B Harriers from the Kearsarge. The Super Hornets simulated opposing forces during the training.

“I’d never had a chance to train with Harriers before,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott, a pilot with CVW 7. “We also had the Harriers receive gas from our airborne F/A-18 mission tanker –something that rarely happens. It was pretty neat to see the Harrier up close in the air.”

During the training, the Maritime Raid Force of the 22nd MEU conducted visit, board, search and seizure training, as well as a fast-roping exercise with helicopters and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge.

National Security Advisor John Bolton announced two weeks ago that the Lincoln had been ordered into the region, although it was already on its way as part of a home port transfer. The nuclear-powered ship transited the Suez Canal on May 9.

The Navy typically deploys one aircraft carrier battle group and one Marine expeditionary unit led by an amphibious assault ship in the volatile Middle East at all times.

The Lincoln replaced the USS John Stennis as the aircraft carrier in the region, and the Kearsarge will soon replaced soon by the USS Boxer, which left San Diego on May 1.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.