SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Ships of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group returned to their homeport of San Diego March 26 after an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
The strike group flag ship, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz (CVN 68), guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the guided-missile frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46) were greeted by thousands upon arrival.
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group deployed July 31, 2009 in support of the nation's Maritime Strategy.
"Every member of the Strike Group has been running hard, operating across the core capabilities of our Maritime Strategy and they've done it with precision," said Rear Adm. Robert P. Girrier, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11. "I am tremendously proud of their contributions providing deterrence and forward presence in the Western Pacific, projecting power from the skies over Afghanistan and conducting maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf."
From the Nimitz flight deck, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 began combat operations from the North Arabian Sept. 18, launching more than 2,600 sorties in support of the coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan. Carrier-based aircraft provided 30 percent of the combat air support for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) during the four-month period.
"Nimitz was on the line for 120 days of flight operations," said Capt. Paul Monger, Nimitz commanding officer. "The Old Salt/Barbed Wire team generated a 99.7 percent sortie completion rate and they were there on time and on target for coalition forces on the ground. That is the result of the people and the tradition of teamwork that has endured on this ship for three decades."
Destroyer Squadron 23 participated in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, protected critical Iraqi infrastructure and conducted Maritime Security Operations (MSO) for both fleet commanders.
"Our operations focused on reassuring regional partners of our commitment to security and stability," said Capt. Geno Autrey, commander, Destroyer Squadron 23. "Whether we were side by side with the Iraqi Navy on an oil terminal, protecting global commerce around the Horn of Africa, or working with the Royal Malaysian Navy, the key ingredient of our many successes were the partnerships we developed with the various regional navies."
To further strengthen relationships, Sailors hosted several distinguished visitors and participated in more than 25 Community Service Projects during port visits to Japan, Singapore, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
"In Singapore we helped at an old church and at a school in Phuket [Thailand] we played a game of soccer with the kids," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class (AW/SW) David Bauer, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 14. "Being overseas is always a great experience, still it has been a long cruise and I am looking forward to returning home."
"Every time this team was called, we delivered excellence. When we did, our enemies took notice; our friends and allies took notice," said Monger. "I am truly honored to sail with this team."
Nimitz CSG is comprised of USS Nimitz, embarked Carrier Air Wing 11, embarked Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chosin. Ships assigned to DESRON 23 include the destroyers USS Pinckney, USS Sampson and the frigate USS Rentz.
Squadrons from CVW-11 include the "Black Aces" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, the "Tophatters" of VFA-14, the "Warhawks" of VFA-97, the "Sidewinders" of VFA-86, the "Indians" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6, the "Black Ravens" of Electronic Attack Squadron 135, the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the "Wallbangers" of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron 117.
Helicopter detachments include the "Easy Riders" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 37, the "Battle Cats" of HSL-43, the "Wolfpack" of HSL-45, the "Scorpions" of HSL-49 and the "Wildcards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. Also accompanying the Nimitz CSG are Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 and the USNS Bridge.
For more news from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn68/.