NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- In a message to the entire Atlantic Fleet, Adm. Robert Natter, commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, extended his "sincere thanks and deepest admiration," in congratulating every Sailor and Marine who contributed to the "extraordinary and historic performance during Operation Iraqi Freedom" in welcoming the deployed forces home.
"The professionalism and dedication you displayed in the defense of our nation and the principles of freedom were unparalleled. Your leadership and professionalism ensured the success of complex and difficult combat operations," said Natter.
With the bulk of the ships and Sailors returning in the coming weeks, he encouraged them to demonstrate continued leadership even while in their homeports. "As the fleet sails home from war, leadership and good order and discipline remain our responsibility. Our competence in battle must be equaled by our professionalism ashore."
He also reminded everyone that "the global war on terrorism continues," and that they must remain ever vigilant even while in port.
Units returning from supporting the global war on terrorism include:
- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Strike Group will return to homeport May 23. The Truman Strike Group deployed on Dec. 5, 2002, and conducted combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Truman Strike Group consists of Carrier Airwing 3 and the ships Harry S. Truman, USS San Jacinto (CG 56), USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), USS Mitscher (DDG 57), USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Briscoe (DD 977), USS Deyo (DD 989), USS Hawes (FFG 53) and USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189).
- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is expected to return to homeport May 29 with one or more of its escort ships, completing nearly a five-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The remaining members of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group may not return until July. In addition to Theodore Roosevelt, the strike group consists of Carrier Airwing 8 and the ships USS Cape St. George (CG 71), USS Anzio (CG 68), USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81), USS Carr (FFG 52) and USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8).
- USS Nassau (LHA 4) Amphibious Readiness Group is expected to arrive at Morehead City, N.C., May 26 to offload embarked Marines and equipment and return to Norfolk, Va., May 29, after deploying for more than nine months in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The amphibious readiness group consists of Nassau, USS Austin (LPD 4), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34) and the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable from Camp Lejeune, N.C.
- The Amphibious Command Ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) is expected to return to Norfolk June 13, after completing a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the ongoing war on terrorism. The ship has served as the flagship of Commander Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) since arriving in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility last fall.
- The ships of Amphibious Task Force East are expected to return to homeport before the end of June after having deployed for about five months in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The amphibious task force consists of USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Kearsarge (LHD 4), USS Saipan (LHA 2), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Ponce (LPD 15), USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) and the embarked 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Task Force Tarawa, from Camp Lejeune, N.C. USS Portland (LSD 37) returned April 11 after successfully transferring troops ashore in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Units returned from supporting the global war on terrorism include:
- USS Toledo (SSN 769), returned April 13 to Naval Submarine Base Groton, Conn.
- USS Boise (SSN 764), returned April 13 to Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
- USS Newport News (SSN 750), returned April 23 to Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
- USS San Juan (SSN 751), returned April 23 to Naval Submarine Base Groton, Conn.
- USS Pittsburg (SSN 720), returned April 27 to Naval Submarine Base Groton, Conn.
- Fighter Squadron (VF) 31, "Tomcatters", returned May 2 to Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
- USS Sirocco (PC 6), returned May 9 to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.
- USS Typhoon (PC 5), returned May 9 to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.
For more news from around the fleet, visit the Navy NewsStand at www.news.navy.mil.