USS Princeton departs from San Diego, joins strike group led by USS Nimitz

Deployment to last 6 months

SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton and its 400 sailors departed San Diego Wednesday 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.

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.

"This has been scheduled for some time and the flexibility of a naval force is we can go if we need to, but right now this is a regularly scheduled deployment," Capt. John Clausen, the Princeton's commanding officer, told 10News.

One San Diego-based vessel, the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur, is among three ships 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.

The Princeton's sendoff was marred by an injury to a boy who fell aboard the vessel. According to broadcast reports, which showed the youngster being carried off the cruiser in a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance, he suffered an arm injury that was not serious.


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