Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bobby J Siens // Staff Writer
At sea, a husband and wife serve their country — often separated by distance, they are connected by love of country and of each other. Lt. Cmdr. Kate Batten, the maintenance department head assigned to the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117, and Lt. Todd Batten, commanding officer U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Aquidneck (WPB 1309) have served their country for a combined 27 years, and as a married couple since 2013. Now the two serve in separate services, on separate platforms, deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Lt. Cmdr. Batten is responsible for 119 Sailors in the Wallbanger’s maintenance department aboard Truman. She coordinates the daily and future maintenance efforts of four E-2C Hawkeyes flying combat operations for OIR, while Lt. Batten is responsible for all aspects of leading 22 Coast Guardsmen in the execution of the Aquidneck’s mission in support of OIR.
“We knew going into our relationship and marriage that the first couple years were going to be really tough,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “The majority of our relationship has been spent apart, and that has been a challenge.”
Lt. Cmdr. Batten said communication is the key to making things work in a marriage like theirs when you constantly spend long periods of time apart.
“You have to master the art of communication,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “By any means possible; email, phone, the internet, whatever is available. We’ve had to make some pretty big decisions over email, which is not ideal, but you find a way.”
“It definitely takes an extra amount of planning … but there is not a moment that goes by that it isn’t worth it,” said Lt. Batten.
The Wallbangers are an element of the Harry S. Truman Carrier StrikeGroup, which deployed in November, conducting air strikes to degrade the capabilities of ISIS. Strikes have destroyed key targets, including financial institutions and weapons caches.
The U.S. Coast Guard also has a large presence in the fifth fleet area of operations.
“We have six patrol boats and 250 people stationed in Bahrain,” said Lt. Batten. “We conduct missions similar to our Navy counterparts, including maritime security operations, counter smuggling, and training with foreign navies and coast guards.”
Lt. Batten visited Destroyer Squadron 28, April 5, which is embarked onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to brief the U.S. Coast Guard’s capabilities. It was an added bonus his briefing happened to take place on the ship his wife serves aboard.
“It’s definitely a unique circumstance,” said Lt. Batten “That, combined with getting to experience a trap and launch off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is really cool, but that doesn’t overshadow getting to see my wife!”
Lt. Cmdr. Batten said she and her husband will be colocated in October 2016, which she credits to the positive experience they’ve had with the Navy’s and Coast Guard’s commitment to families.
“This was the first time that we’ve had to negotiate orders together,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “The process was actually easier than we thought. Our detailers were able to work together and we were assured we would be colocated.”
Lt. Cmdr. Batten said having her husband aboard Truman while deployed was a first-time experience for both of them.
“This is his first time on a Navy aircraft carrier,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “It’s nice that things worked out and we were able to have this experience.”
Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.