MANAMA, Bahrain — It will be Thanksgiving at sea but Christmas at home for the U.S. helicopter carrier Guadalcanal, which left home last June for maneuvers in the Mediterranean, got an "order to turn left" and slipped into the Persian Gulf for three months of escort and minesweeping duties.
The 18,000-ton carrier is expected to leave the region this week after turning over four of its eight minesweeping Navy helicopters to its replacement, the helicopter carrier Okinawa.
During its gulf tour, which began on Aug. 15, the Guadalcanal took part in most convoys of U.S.-flagged Kuwaiti tankers, rescued a downed Iraqi fighter pilot and played host to thousands of visitors in good-will stops in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
None of that was in the plan when the Guadalcanal left Norfolk, Va., in June.
In three months, the "Guad" left the gulf just once, for an overnight replenishment trip to the Gulf of Oman.