NORFOLK (NNS) -- Nearly 7,000 Sailors and Marines deployed with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) returned to their homeports Dec. 20, following a seven-month deployment.
The Norfolk-based Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and USS Ross (DDG 71) returned after supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, Operation New Dawn (OND) in Iraq and maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
"This has been a great deployment because of the hard work and professionalism of our Sailors and Marines over the last seven months," said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, commander, Harry S. Truman CSG. "Whether conducting combat flight operations in support of U.S. and coalition ground forces in Afghanistan, preventing piracy on the open seas, or interacting with the local community during well-deserved port visits, the strike group represented themselves and their country with the greatest pride and professionalism."
Shortly after departing Norfolk May 21, the Truman CSG participated in the 100th anniversary of French naval aviation celebration. French aircraft landed and catapulted off Truman, while F/A-18s and E-2s from CVW 3 touched down on the French nuclear aircraft carrier CVN Charles de Gaulle (R 91). French maintenance crews embarked aboard Truman to conduct a practice engine change on a French Rafale F3 in Truman's hangar bay.
The Truman CSG joined the 5th Fleet Area of Operations in June 2010 and began combat operations in support of OEF and OND. During the next five months, CVW 3 aircrews flew 2,915 missions into Afghanistan and Iraq, providing vital close air support to coalition forces on the ground.
"Our success in support of OEF and OND is a glowing testament to world-class training, the high caliber of men and women who volunteer to serve and the manner in which they came together to perform as a mission-focused team," said Capt. Jay Bynum, commander, CVW 3. "We are so thankful and blessed to be returning home with all our Sailors, Marines and aircraft and to be reunited with our families to enjoy the holiday season."
While operating in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, several Truman CSG ships rescued mariners adrift at sea. The visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams from Winston S. Churchill rescued 62 distressed mariners after their dhow capsized in the Gulf of Aden Sept. 27, while the VBSS team from Oscar Austin provided assistance to two Iranian mariners after their dhow sank Nov. 18.
"Whether conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, operating with the Harry S. Truman in the Northern Arabian Sea, or conducting escort operations and other duties in the Arabian Gulf, the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 were essential in maintaining peace and stability throughout the 5th Fleet AOR," said Capt. Bob Barwis, commander, DESRON 26.
Returning a few days before Christmas, the leadership aboard Truman is both proud and thankful to have safely achieved so much while deployed for 213 days and traveling nearly 55,000 nautical miles.
"It is truly wonderful to return to our homeport and reunite with our families and loved ones after seven months at sea," said Capt. Joe Clarkson, Harry S. Truman's commanding officer. "With the invaluable support of family and friends throughout this deployment, we accomplished the mission we were sent to do, and it is good to be home to celebrate the holidays with our families."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.