USS Princeton leaving for 6-month deployment

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101222-N-9643K-503SAN DIEGO — The guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton and its 400 sailors are scheduled to depart San Diego Wednesday morning for a six-month deployment with a strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The 567-foot-long Princeton, named after the location of a Revolutionary War battle, will provide air defense for the ships, according to the Navy.

“I am honored to deploy with this great ship, and the men and women of Princeton have worked very hard to be ready for this deployment,” said Capt. John Clausen, the commanding officer. “While it is hard to leave behind friends and family, deploying forward is immensely rewarding for all of us.”

The Nimitz, which used to be based in San Diego but was transferred to Washington state, will undergo certification exercises before the vessels sail to the western Pacific Ocean and Middle East.

A Navy spokesman said the strike group’s deployment was part of a normal schedule, now that the aircraft carrier has overcome maintenance problems that had caused delays.

It’s not known whether the Nimitz group might eventually be directed toward the Korean peninsula in light of the threats emanating almost daily from North Korea. One San Diego-based vessel, the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur, is positioned in the western Pacific to provide missile defense, according to the Pentagon.

The San Diego-based destroyers USS Higgins, USS Stockdale and USS William P. Lawrence, normally part of the flotilla that sails with the Nimitz, deployed in January.

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