ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines deployed with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) reached the mid-way point of their deployment Sept. 25 working closely with coalition nations to support maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), the embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, along with USS Normandy (CG 60), and the German frigate FGS Hessen (F 221) conducted a number of multinational exercises and operations within the U.S. Navy's 6th before arriving in the 5th Fleet AOR.
Shortly after deploying May 21, the Truman Carrier Strike Group participated in evolutions marking the 100th anniversary of French naval aviation. The joint interoperability exercises with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) culminated with French aircraft trapping aboard Truman and F/A-18s and E-2s assigned to CVW 3 touching down on Charles de Gaulle (R 91). Additionally, Truman's hanger bay was the site of a French Rafale F3 aircraft jet-engine maintenance removal and replacement evolution.
"This was the first time that an engine swap-out with a foreign navy was done on a U.S. carrier," said Cmdr. Tim Hill. "This was a big step in working toward the ability to operate a French squadron on a U.S. carrier."
During the carrier's port visit to Marseille, France, in June, nearly 100 Truman crew members dedicated more than 900 hours to six local community relations projects, which included repair and grounds keeping work at schools and churches, and building an internet cafe for merchant sailors.
In Split, Croatia, USS Ross (DDG 71) Sailors conducted visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training with a Croatian navy VBSS team, and devoted several hours to rebuilding a local orphanage.
On June 28, shortly before joining the Truman CSG, Sailors from USS Winston S. Churchill's (DDG 81) VBSS team assisted two Yemeni fishermen who had been without food, fuel or water for four days. The team provided the fishermen with food and water, and stayed with them until the Yemeni coast guard arrived to escort the skiff back to land.
"As soon as our helo spotted the stranded fishermen, we knew we had to go help them," said Cmdr. Juan Orozco, USS Winston S. Churchill commanding officer. "It is every Sailor's responsibility to help those in need on the high seas. You could see the satisfaction in my crews' faces, knowing that they had done a good deed."
USS Elrod (FFG 55) assisted 16 stranded Pakistani fishermen July 5 whose fishing boat had taken on water and sank two days earlier. After being spotted floating adrift in a life raft by a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion, the stranded crew was recovered by Elrod's rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) and transported back to the ship before being transferred to the Pakistani Navy destroyer, PNS Babur the next day.
On Aug. 18, units assigned to Truman Carrier Strike Group rescued eight Iranian mariners in the Arabian Sea after their dhow caught fire. After being rescued by search and rescue swimmers from two "Dusty Dogs" helicopters assigned to Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 7, the mariners were transported to Truman for follow-on care, where they received medical attention, food and clothing. The mariners were transferred to Iranian vessel AKL Chiroo Aug. 20 via RHIB.
"I've been a corpsman for twelve years and this is what I live for; the opportunity to help people," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jason Legare. "I'm glad that we were able to help the way we did."
Since arriving in the 5th Fleet AOR June 29, aircraft assigned to CVW 3 completed more than 3,300 aircraft sorties and logged more than 10,200 flight hours, with more than 7,200 of those hours in support of coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.
After nearly four months of successful operations and accomplishments, Truman CSG leadership stresses the importance of remaining focused on safety and future operations for the 7,000 Sailors and Marines in the Truman CSG.
"I am immensely proud of the work our team is doing here in the Middle East," said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, commander, Carrier Strike Group Ten. "Our Sailors have rescued dozens of mariners in distress on the high seas, interdicted pirates, projected air power in support of US and coalition troops fighting in Afghanistan, strengthened relationships and improved the capabilities of our partner navies in the region, and provided a presence and deterrence to ensure the free flow of commerce in the maritime commons.
"Our challenge is to continue to execute these many missions in a safe and efficient manner in this demanding and hazardous environment. These Sailors and Marines are the best I have deployed with, and they remain focused on the mission. We want to ensure all safely return to their families back in our homeport," said Driscoll.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.