The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group are en route to the Middle East as the Israel-Hamas war continues. Scripps News Cincinnati's Craig McKee met with the ship’s new commanding officer during a visit to the ship out in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this year.
“This is the best damn ship in the Navy,” Captain Christopher Hill said in April.
This will be the first deployment after taking the helm. During McKee's visit on the ship, the crew was going through extensive training to sharpen their skills in releasing and catching fighter jets and other aircraft on the deck.
Even then, Hill was focused on being mission-ready in the event they were activated for a mission.
“If we're called up to do our nation's work, we are going to do it and we're going to be incredible at it. And hopefully, we're so good at it that we scare the pants off our enemies so that they don't want to fight us,” Hill said.
More than 5,000 sailors are on board as the floating city heads toward the Middle East.
During McKee's visit to the ship, he ran into Indiana native Bryson Torbeck, who spends his days on the high-intensity flight deck as a crash and salvage crewman — a job he says is critical to operations.
“Very, very critical — you can't operate without crash and salvage,” he said.
Ohio native Desiree Munguia is one of the ship’s quartermasters and will be the eyes of the ship using the VLS system and will help the Eisenhower navigate what’s ahead.
“We can see other ships, any unexploded ordinances,” she said.
Ohio's Austin Swagert runs the equivalent of the health department on board, ensuring the 14,000 meals served every day are safe and the medical team on board can keep sailors healthy.
Indiana native Andrew Daye oversees the ship’s ability to protect itself with a wide array of missiles and guns.
“If we were ever to be attacked, or if there's any sort of bad situation like that, I can trust the person defending the ship because it's me," Daye said. "I get to trust my own judgment and my own abilities."
In a news release, the Carrier Strike Group 2 said the mission of the Eisenhower is to "engage with allies and partners in support of maritime statecraft, which encompasses naval diplomacy and national efforts to build comprehensive U.S. and allied maritime power.”
No timeline was given for the length of the deployment.
This story was originally published by Craig McKee at Scripps News Cincinnati.
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