CNN Balkan Conflict News

USS Roosevelt flight crew

Aircraft carrier
USS America replaces
USS Roosevelt in Adriatic

September 12, 1995
Web posted at: 3:45 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT)

From Correspondent Jim Clancy

ABOARD USS ROOSEVELT (CNN) -- The USS Theodore Roosevelt, with its crew of 5,500, sets a course for home this week after six months at sea. The huge, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier played a leading role in carrying out NATO's decision to strike back at the Bosnian Serbs.

USS Roosevelt crew members That air assault paused only briefly as the responsibility for the operation passed to another U.S. aircraft carrier: the USS America. As part of the turnover, helicopters ferried one-of-a-kind items from the Roosevelt to the America just off its port beam. Included were such things as photographic devices used to help analyze the combat video recorded during bombing raids.

This is the first time many of those aboard the Roosevelt have been involved in a combat operation. But the excitement of Operation Deliberate Force didn't dampen the enthusiasm to go home. Crew members said they'd be glad to see their loved ones and get some rest.

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Under normal conditions, the Roosevelt would already be on its way back to the United States. But the combat situation requires more time on station, alongside the USS America, and it requires concentrating on the job at hand.

"You stay out here this long, and it's repetitive. We tend to get lazy," said one Roosevelt crew member. "It (the operation) helps us to stay focused."

helicopter airliftThe decision by NATO to launch air strikes two weeks ago forced many sailors aboard the Roosevelt to scuttle plans for special family reunions, but there is little argument aboard ship that those are the hardships that come with the job.

From its station off the coast of the former Yugoslavia, this nuclear-powered carrier and its crew will leave Wednesday for homeport: Norfolk, Virginia.

During that weeklong journey, the men and women of this ship can only wonder whether their mission helped to bring peace to Bosnia.


Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.