CORONADO, Calif. - The next aircraft carrier to call San Diego its home port -- the USS Theodore Roosevelt -- arrived Monday morning.
The 1,092-foot-long "Big Stick'' is completing what amounts to an epic voyage, in which it left its old base in Norfolk, Virginia, more than eight months ago for deployment to the Middle East.
Air squadrons aboard the Roosevelt flew more than 1,800 combat sorties against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, racking up 10,600 flight hours for the crews. Most of the action took place during the summer, when temperatures rose well over 100 degrees.
The 29-year-old Roosevelt, named for the 26th president, is part of a three-way swap of carrier home ports. The USS George Washington, formerly based in Japan, was sent to Virginia to have its nuclear power plant refueled. The USS Ronald Reagan, based in San Diego for 11 years, replaced the George Washington in Japan.
About two-thirds of the 3,300 or so Roosevelt sailors will fly on from San Diego to Virginia, where they will take over the George Washington.
Most of the Reagan's crew sailed the GW around the tip of South America and up to the U.S East Coast. They'll fly back to San Diego and become the Big Stick's crew. Around one-third of each vessel's sailors, mainly command staff and nuclear power experts, stayed with their ships.
The complicated process is estimated to be saving the Navy $41 million in personnel transfer costs.