Spencer Ramthun, a 2016 Northgate High School graduate, is currently serving aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which recently broke the U.S. Navy record for 161 consecutive days at sea.
Another Coweta native, Lucas Leosewski, is 2017 Newnan High School graduate and also currently serving as a petty officer on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
As of June 25, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, also called Ike, and its escort ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto, have been continuously at sea for 161 days, setting a new record for the U.S. Navy, according to a release from the Navy.
Both ships departed their homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, on Jan. 17, for the strike group’s Composite Training Unit Exercise and follow-on deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.
Because of COVID-19, the USS Eisenhower and its accompanying strike group ships have remained at sea to minimize the crew’s exposure to the virus.
“In March, I suspended liberty port visits to reduce the chance of spreading and contracting the virus across the Fleet,” said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime in the release. “Throughout this pandemic, maintaining the Fleet’s warfighting readiness while ensuring the safety and well-being of our Sailors has been my top priority.”
Spencer’s mom, Renae Ramthun, said he is an Aviation Maintenance Administrationman, or AZ, on the ship. He joined the Navy right after graduating high school in July 2016.
Renae said he is ranked E-5, or Petty Officer Second Class. Leosewski is also E-5, serving in the nuclear field.
Spencer is the fitness leader for the weapons department and the Fire on The Scene Leader for his department, which means he’s in charge of everything that happens in case of a fire. He got promoted from a pollywog, a sailor who has never crossed the equator in a Navy vessel, to a shellback, a sailor who has crossed the equator in a Navy vessel, Renae said.
This is Spencer’s first time being deployed, and Renae said he was looking forward to visiting places he’s never been. However, those plans changed because of COVID-19.
“It’s comforting as a mom to know that they haven’t been able to stop,” Renae said. “We’re really proud of him and what he’s doing.”
Renae said she’s able to communicate with him pretty actively. She said one of the coolest things he has been able to do is swim in the ocean at the equator.
“He says that it’s been tough to be away from family, but he’s trying to stay positive,” Renae said. “He spends time in the gym when he’s not working.”
Although Naval History and Heritage Command does not specifically track continuous days underway for naval vessels, it has two modern documented days-at-sea records, both of which are now broken.
In February 2002, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt operated for 160 days straight in support of the post-9/11 response. And it was again the USS Eisenhower which held the record of 152 days consecutively underway during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.
"Our ships remain undeterred in the face of adversity and this monumental feat will only make our crews and the Navy stronger," said Capt. Kyle Higgins, Ike's commanding officer in the release. "I'm so proud of the young men and women I see on the deck plates each and every day. Their dedication to the mission is what makes our Navy the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen."
Both Ike’s and San Jacinto’s crews have maintained mission readiness and effectiveness despite restrictions related to COVID-19.
“San Jacinto and Eisenhower have proven their ability to remain a flexible, adaptable and persistent force while staying on station in the Arabian Sea,” said Capt. Edward Crossman, commanding officer of San Jacinto in the release. “Both crews have been resupplying and refueling, performing repairs and upkeep, and maintaining overall readiness while continuously at sea. The two ships have spent the last five months conducting operations and exercises with foreign partners, other U.S. service branches, and U.S. Navy ships in the region.”
The ships also participated in a "rest & reset" period at sea, coming off-station for a short period of time to allow the crew to relax and reenergize with morale events such as swim calls and steel beach picnics.
Ike and San Jacinto remain at sea, deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints for the free flow of global commerce, according to the release.
“Ike and San Jacinto, along with the rest of the Ike CSG, have continued to stand the watch in this critical region of the world, conducting routine operations and maintaining constant readiness and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Malloy.