NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- More than 4,300 Sailors serving in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG) returned to their homeports in Norfolk and Mayport, Fla., Dec. 19, following six months of operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and embarked squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, along with guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), are returning early from a previously scheduled nine-month deployment in order to make preparations to redeploy in late February for additional operations in U.S. 5th Fleet.
Other IKECSG ships USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) remain on station in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility and will return as scheduled in March 2013.
"From the beginning and throughout this deployment, this strike group has proven to be flexible, agile and ready in executing the full spectrum of operations," said Rear Adm. Michael C. Manazir, CSG 8 commander. "We are entering a phase where that flexibility is crucial. We look forward to our return home for the holidays and then readying ourselves for continued support of combatant commander priorities."
While deployed, Eisenhower CSG served in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
During the six months away from their homeports, Eisenhower and Hue City safely steamed more than 55,000 miles and CVW-7 flew more than 8,200 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, exercises, and unit level training.
"I believe this team excelled at every mission they were assigned. These are the most inspiring men and women I've ever served with," said Capt.
Marcus Hitchcock, commanding officer of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Looking back on the past six months, we know we've made a difference and we will be ready to redeploy soon to support our nation. We also know that our families helped make this excellence possible - we can't thank them enough for their sacrifices and support. It'll be great to be together with them again."
Capt. Dan Uhls, commanding officer of USS Hue City, echoed Hitchcock's comments about the magnificent work his crew has done during the deployment.
"It has been an absolute pleasure watching the wonderful men and women who sailed with me over the last six months. They have met every challenge put in front of them and have performed remarkably. They are truly the finest that our nation has to offer," said Uhls. "As brilliant as their performance has been over the last six months, I think that the best is yet to come as we redeploy."
Eisenhower CSG is made up of Commander, Carrier Strike Group 8, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99), guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), the seven squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, and Destroyer Squadron 28.
CVW-7 includes Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121 "Bluetails," Strike Fighter Squadron 103 "Jolly Rogers," Strike Fighter Squadron 131 "Wildcats," Strike Fighter Squadron 143 "Pukin' Dogs," Strike Fighter Squadron 83 "Rampagers," Electronic Attack Squadron 140 "Patriots," Helicopter Anti-submarine 5 "Nightdippers," and Fleet Logistic Support Squadron 40 "Rawhides."