U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln arrived in the Northern Arabian Sea on the 17th of October 2010 and began flying combat sorties over Afghanistan on the 18th of October 2010.
Lincoln spent 72 days at sea before putting into Bahrain for 3 days of well earned rest from the 18th to the 21st of November 2010.
The U.S.S. Harry S.Truman then moved to the Arabian Gulf.
The U.S.S. Harry S. Truman then left the operational area in the Northern Arabian Sea,entering the Red Sea on the 28th of November.
Between U.S.S Harry S.Truman flying her first combat sortie over Afghanistan on the 29th of June 2010 and flying her last on the 27th of November 2010 is a period of 151 days.
She spent just 10 days in port over this period and 141 days at sea sustained by replenishment vessels.
There was a United States Aircraft carrier flying sorties over Afghanistan for 145 of these 151 days.
There were 2 American aircraft carriers conducting flying operations for 37 of those 151 days.
The claim that American aircraft carriers spend little time on station in the Northern Arabian Sea because they must return to port to replenish is clearly not true.
The United States Navy tends to publish the number of sorties generated by it's aircraft carriers when those ships return home.
The U.S.S. Harry S Truman has not returned home yet,she is currently in Greece.
Consequently the number of sorties she flew over Afghanistan have not been released yet.
However,figures have been released for the first half of her time on station up to the 25th of September 2010:
"Since arriving in the 5th Fleet A.O.R. (Area Of Responsibility) June 29,aircraft assigned to C.V.W. 3 (Carrier Air Wing 3) completed more than 3,300 aircraft sorties and logged more than 10,200 flight hours,with more than 7,200 of those hours in support of coalition ground forces in Afghanistan."
Those figures cover a period of 88 days giving an average of 37.5 sorties and 116 hours flown per day including 82 flight hours flown in support of ground troops in Afghanistan.
During this period Britain's XIII Squadron of the Royal Air Force was operating in Afghanistan for the 90 days from the 19th of July 2010 to the 16th of October 2010.
They flew 1,850 hours during this period,an average of just under 21 hours a day and "a Tornado GR4 record for Operation Herrick".
The U.S.S. Harry S. Truman's aircraft flew 4 times as many hours of close air support in Afghanistan each day as the Royal Air Force Tornados of XIII Squadron managed.
Unfortunately figures for the total number of sorties flown by XIII Squadron in Afghanistan do not appear to have been released (weekly figures suggest about 5-6 sorties a day) but more detailed information about the squadron which preceded them is available.
Between the 14th of April 2010 and the 18th of July 2010,II (Army Co-operation) Squadron was operating in Afghanistan.
Over this period of 96 days they flew 515 sorties totalling 1680 flight hours,an average of just over 5 sorties per day and 17.5 flight hours a day (they dropped 5 Paveway IV bombs and fired a total of 4 Brimstone missiles over the 96 day period).
These figures make an interesting comparison with the following extract from A Day In The Navy October 13th 2010:
"USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) conducts a morning replenishment-at-sea with USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) and USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2).
Elements assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 conduct 25 sorties (149.4 flight hours) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."
Despite conducting an under way replenishment, on the 13th of October 2010 the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman flew 5 times as many combat sorties and more than 8 times as many flight hours over Afghanistan as the Royal Air Force II Squadron Tornados averaged per day and 7 times as many flight hours as XIII Squadron averaged per day.
The following figures cover November 2010,both the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and the U.S.S. Harry S.Truman were on station in the Northern Arabian Sea for most of this month:
"The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) flew 1,571 sorties for 4,001.5 hours of flight time supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn;the Harry S. Truman CSG completed 480 combat sorties and 2863.3 flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."
In November 2010 the two American aircraft carriers between them averaged 68 sorties per day and 229 flight hours per day in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,approximately 11 times as many as the Royal Air Force Tornados contibuted to operations in Afghanistan.
It is interesting to note that Royal Navy aircraft carriers have often generated higher sortie rates than American carriers on combat operations.
The new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers should easily be able to match or exceed the performance of the American carriers in Afghanistan.
The claim that American aircraft carrier's
contribution to operations in Afghanistan is
so small that if they were not there nobody
would notice does not stand up to scrutiny.
The United States Navy delivers a large proportion of the combat air power in Afghanistan,typically generating about 25-30% of close air support sorties in the land locked country.
In contrast the Royal Air Force generates only about 5% of the combat sorties flown in Afghanistan each day.
If they were not there,would anyone notice?