June 25 (UPI) -- The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the USS Jacinto set new records for continuous time at sea Thursday, according to the Navy.
Both vessels have been at sea for 161 days, having left from their homeport of Norfolk, Va., on Jan. 17 for the strike group's Composite Training Unit Exercise and follow-on deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation in the Arabian Sea.
"Our ships remain undeterred in the face of adversity and this monumental feat will only make our crews and the Navy stronger," said Capt. Kyle Higgins, Eisenhower's commanding officer. "I'm so proud of the young men and women I see on the deck plates each and every day. Their dedication to the mission is what makes our Navy the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen."
Naval History and Heritage command does not specifically track continuous days underway, it has two documented days-at-sea records: in 1980, the Eiseinhower was underway for 152 days during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, and in 2002 the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt operated for 160 days straight in support of post-9/11 response.
According to the Navy, the Eiseinhower and its accompanying strike group ships remained at sea to minimize sailors' exposure to COVID-19.
"In March, I suspended liberty port visits to reduce the chance of spreading and contracting the virus across the Fleet," said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime. "Throughout this pandemic, maintaining the Fleet's warfighting readiness while ensuring the safety and well-being of our Sailors has been my top priority."
The ships also participated in a "rest & reset" period at sea with morale events like swim calls and steel beach picnics.