JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A delayed deployment has kept the USS Gettysburg landlocked for now.
It was scheduled to deploy February 1 to the Middle East. But Wednesday, its crew was told that budget cuts delayed deployment indefinitely.
"Psychologically, I'm like, 'I'm getting ready to deploy, getting ready to deploy, aw, you're not deploying!' So that transition took me a minute."
After 26 years in the Navy, this seven-month deployment would have been Captain Robert Hein's last.
He said for his crew, the delay is bittersweet, "On the one hand, they were excited to get to do what they were trained to do, but on the other hand, the opportunity to be able to spend more time at home works out pretty well, too."
But now, he and his 380-sailor crew will wait on land after the Pentagon paused their deployment because of nearly $8 billion in possible budget cuts.
"I feel like a lot of people are upset, because a lot of people like myself were ready to go, and now everyone's bouncing back and forth with if we're going to leave or not. The confusion has set in."
Geoffrey Bourget is from Massachusetts. This would have been his fourth deployment, but he said it wasn't just him who had to emotionally prepare for it.
"My wife and my kids they're all in the mindset of, 'My dad's leaving or my husband's leaving,' so that messes with their heads a little."
For 25-year-old David Lazcos, this was his third deployment. He said he'll spend the next few days reorganizing and re-planning.
"I'm actually going home tomorrow to South Florida to get my car again, move back into my place and return some stuff that I won't be needing for the next seven months."
But Hein said one of the Navy's main strengths is flexibility, "What is going on throughout the world is always changing and we have to respond. And sometimes we got a lot of notice; sometimes we don't get so much notice."
And as far as Hein's reaction to the proposed budget cuts, he said right now, it's just a lot of conjecture. But he said he and his sailors won't just be biding their time while they wait.
"See all those radars and guns and systems. There's a lot that goes into maintaining those," he said.
"My sailors are incredibly well trained, they have highly specialized skill sets. Just like any profession with a highly-specialized skill set, you have to maintain that. So we'll continue to run drills, we'll continue to do training on board, we'll continue to maintain our ship, and we'll continue to maintain our level of readiness that when called upon we're ready."
And although both Bourget and Lazcos say they're happy to spend more time with their loved ones, they say they won't forget why they're here.
"My job is to work on the ship and listen to my captain, if they say we're ready to go, we're ready to go," Bourget smiles.
There's no word on how long the sailors could be at Mayport. Those who have families nearby will be staying with them, while the rest will stay on the ship.
It's not just the USS Gettysburg that's been delayed. The USS Harry S. Truman, an aircraft carrier out of Virginia, and the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74, "the Swamp Foxes" based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville were also supposed to be part of the February 1 deployment.
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