Navy Captain Sets New Unofficial Record for Consecutive Days at Sea

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The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group returned home to Norfolk Naval Station on Aug. 9, 2020
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) carrier strike group returned home to Norfolk Naval Station on Aug. 9, 2020, after seven months operating in 5th and 6th Fleet. Navy photo

A New York state native has set an unofficial U.S. Navy record for most consecutive days at sea.

Capt. Mike Desmond spent 207 consecutive days at sea this year, which is believed to be a modern U.S. record, he said.

Desmond was on the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose crew ended up at sea for 206 days, but he was transferred late in that stint to take over command of the USS Vella Gulf. The Eisenhower docked one day earlier than the Vella Gulf, he said, so he spent an extra day at sea before returning to his home port of Norfolk, Virginia

"This hasn't been vetted by the Navy yet," he said Aug. 26. "When we researched it, it looks like we shattered the record. The previous longest time at sea was 160 days."

According to the Navy Times, that record was set in 2002 by the carrier Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the Afghanistan War.

Desmond said the long deployment happened by accident. The Eisenhower was in the Mediterranean Sea at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, making docking impossible, he explained.

"Normally, we get very excited about port days," he said. "At the time, when there was an outbreak in Italy, we saw the writing on the wall that we probably couldn't make a port visit."

Despite the change and the lengthy time at sea, Desmond said the crew kept its morale high.

"That's the really weird thing," he said. "Everybody was in really good spirits and it was sort of matter of fact. We realized we had a mission to do. Once the disappointment [of not going to port] wore off, we realized that we might set a record. We really started to focus on the positive more than anything."

Desmond graduated from Sharon Springs Central School in 1987 and got an associate degree from SUNY Cobleskill and a bachelor's degree in environmental science from SUNY Plattsburgh. He later got a master's degree in military science and diplomacy from Norwich University.

"I spent my whole life in Sharon before college," he said.

Desmond said he wasn't planning to be a Navy "lifer," but once he started serving, it turned into something he didn't want to give up. He enlisted in 1994 and then got selected to go to officer training school.

"I think the Navy is where I was supposed to end up," he said.

Desmond and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Norfolk. They have three grown children. And while his career has caused him to miss some family time, he said they have always been supportive of his desire to serve.

"It is a great amount of time away from family, of course," he said, "but I am blessed with a wonderful wife and excellent family."

In return, "the Navy has been very good to me and my family," he said. "I am blessed."

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This article was written by Greg Klein from The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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