USS Abraham Lincoln Deploys With First Female Commander

Aircraft carrier also had the Marine Corps’ first F-35C Squadron on board.

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, commanding officer of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, speaks during a press conference before the ship gets underway for a regularly-scheduled deployment. [Courtesy: U.S. Navy]

When the USS Abraham Lincoln pulled out of port in San Diego on Monday morning, the scheduled routine deployment was also historic. On board was the Marine Corps’ first F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron, and at the helm, the first female commander of a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, a Naval pilot, took command of the Lincoln in August. Before assuming command of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, Bauernschmidt served as its executive officer. She also has more than 3,000 flight hours in naval aircraft.

“These Sailors are incredible professionals who have trained exceptionally hard to ensure they are ready for any operational obligations required of us on deployment,” Bauernschmidt said in a statement. “They are absolutely prepared for today’s deployment, and I have no doubt they will represent our nation proudly as we defend our national interests.”

The Lincoln deployed as part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, which also includes:

  • Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9
  • Guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53)
  • Guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21)—USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Sampson (DDG 102) and USS Spruance (DDG 111)

CVW-9 comprises eight squadrons, including Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, the first Marine Corps squadron to achieve F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter operational capability last year. 

An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to Marine Wing Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. [Credit: 1st Lt. Charles Allen, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing] 

The Change to the F-35C

The squadron, known as the “Black Knights,” announced in December 2020 it was transitioning from F/A-18 Hornets to the F-35C stealth fighter as part of fleet modernization that would enable support of combat operations anywhere in the world.

“The F-35 is an expeditionary platform that extends the reach of our Marines and machines, and increases our ability to support joint and allied partners at a moment’s notice,” Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, 3rd [Marine Aircraft Wing] commanding general, said at the time. “By effectively employing the F-35, MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] commanders have the potential to dominate our adversaries in a joint battlespace, in the air and out at sea.”

The Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and the CVW-9 marks the most advanced air wing deployment in the Navy, the service said.

“Through the integration of organic 4th and 5th generation information and survivability, increased command and control abilities, and airborne electronic attack capacity, all sustained with a robust logistical support platform, the Navy’s next iteration of the Carrier Air Wing will be more lethal and survivable in today’s contested battle space, and well into the future,” the Navy said.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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