Local Marines aboard stalled aircraft carrier

cconley@islandpacket.comFebruary 11, 2013 

Talk about hurry up and wait.

Members of an elite fighter jet squadron stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are among military personnel aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. That ship's mission to the Middle East was postponed last week amid federal budget uncertainty, according to media reports.

At last 200 members of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, based in Beaufort, are aboard the carrier, which was due to leave Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on Friday.

Military officials now say it's not clear when the ship will sail.

"Our focus now is (on) staying ready," Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander of the Truman Carrier Strike Group, told The Daily Press of Newport News, Va. "We are in what we call the sustainment phase -- to be prepared for deployment on short notice."

Capt. Jordan Cochran, a spokesman for the air station, said 200 to 300 members of the squadron, which flies F-18 Hornet fighter jets, are believed to be aboard the Truman.

The Marines boarded the vessel Jan. 12 in support of Navy Carrier Air Wing 3 and Carrier Support Group Ten, he said.

"The Navy carrier air wing attached to the USS Harry S. Truman will provide close air support for maritime security operations," Cochran said in an email.

The squadron "will continue to maintain its readiness and will deploy when directed," he said.

The Daily Press reported that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta decided to postpone the deployment because of budget uncertainties, including the looming threat of sequestration.

The paper reported that deployment of another vessel, the cruiser USS Gettysburg, also was delayed last week.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.

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