USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group concluded operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and maritime security operations (MSO) March 19, after being relieved by the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group in the Persian Gulf.
MSO is aimed at setting the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. Illicit activity at sea has a global impact. MSO pressurizes the maritime environment and is the single most significant component of the conventional maritime effort against terrorism.
Truman and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 launched 2,577 sorties, totaling nearly 13,000 flight hours, in support of OIF and MSO since relieving USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Nov. 20. Truman and CVW-3 kept an eye on U.S. and coalition forces in country during the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections.
"I'm very proud of the close cooperation and esprit de corps on the ship, air wing and throughout the strike group," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 Rear Adm. Michael C. Tracy. "I know for a fact that the troops on the ground appreciated our ability to provide close air support."
Shipboard leadership mirrored Tracy's approval.
"For all the people in the mission - absolutely superb job," said Truman Commanding Officer Capt. James P. Gigliotti in an all-hands address. "We've done an outstanding job all the way through this evolution for the past four months."
Truman had the privilege of visiting Manama, Bahrain, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Sailors and Marines enjoyed what the local culture had to offer during the brief periods of rest and relaxation.
"I went on the Sunset Safari," said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) Jill Harris, "and it was one of the best tours I've ever been on. Four-wheeling and sand boarding were my favorite parts."
Underway between Arabian excursions ashore, the ship and air wing team hit the deckplates hard when it came to the daily grind of flight operations, general quarters training evolutions and underway replenishments.
Truman's Supply Department won Ship's Store Best in Class Award and their fourth Capt. Edward F. Ney Award for excellence in food service, an honor that now encompasses the entire Navy rather than the East and West Coasts separately.
"We are recognized as the best food service organization in the United States Navy," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW) Susan Reece, Truman's food production chief. "It's a privilege to work for this supply team and bring the Ney back to [Truman]."
CVW-3 witnessed the end of an era this deployment with the final combat flight of Fighter Squadron (VF) 32's F-14 Tomcats, which will be replaced by F/A-18 Super Hornets later this year. While there are some heavy hearts within VF-32, they know it's a necessary step forward in their mission.
"It's a little sad," said VF-32 Maintenance Officer Lt. Cmdr. Randy Stearns, who's flown Tomcats for 14 years, "but it's good to know we're introducing the Super Hornet and pressing on."
VF-32 has already begun the transition to the new platform and will rejoin CVW-3 in early spring 2006.
Bolstering Truman's ability to complete its mission, a supporting cast of surface ships conducted MSO to protect not only Truman but also the interests of regional allies.
"We've done a lot of significant regional engagement," said USS Mason (DDG 87) Commanding Officer Cmdr. Gene Black. "We've acted as air defense commander, and we've done [MSO] to deter international terrorism and protect the maritime industry.
Although one stage of the mission is now complete, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group's transit home will still be busy.
Before the team reaches its home port, Fleet and Family Support Center representatives will come aboard and conduct preparation training for new parents and those just preparing to return to family life.
"This is something we've done traditionally since my first cruise," said Truman Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Clarence Frye. "They've actually put together a very good and comprehensive program for those who are returning from a deployment."
Frye said the classes will include parenting skills, relational intimacy and handy tips for those buying cars with their savings from the cruise.
The strike group, consisting of Truman, Mason, USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Monterey (CG 61), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) and CVW-3, deployed Oct. 13 for its second deployment in support of OIF and anti-terrorism operations.
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