NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) returned to Norfolk Naval Station Jan. 4, marking the end of a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.
The ship deployed Mar. 27 from Norfolk as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 in support of maritime stability and security. Leyte Gulf performed critical air warfare responsibilities as part of the carrier strike group, operating across the full spectrum of warfare areas in order to ensure mission readiness.
“The crew of Leyte Gulf demonstrated professionalism and dedication at every turn, and made a major impact on our strike group,” said Rear Adm. Michael Boyle, commander, CSG 12. “They should return home knowing that they positively contributed to maritime security in some of the most consequential waterways in the world.”
While in the U.S. 5th Fleet, the cruiser, operating in concert with assets throughout the strike group and theater, worked to foster maritime security and stability. After an expedited deployment to the area in response to credible threats, the strike group operated in the Arabian Sea and, after a successful Strait of Hormuz transit on Nov. 19, the Arabian Gulf.
Throughout the deployment, Leyte Gulf performed numerous training exercises to develop tactical competencies. From carrier strike force operations with the John C. Stennis Strike Group, to dual operations with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, to exercises with partner navies and forces, the crew of the cruiser developed key skillsets to maintain readiness and interoperability.
“Deployments are our time to put into practice all of the skillsets that we work to develop prior to getting underway. They are where Sailors distinguish themselves,” said Capt. William “Grady” Musser, commanding officer of Leyte Gulf. "I’m proud of the grit and resilience our team showed over nine months away from home, and I’m grateful for our families for their unwavering support. It is only as a result of that support that we are able to do what we do at sea."
Leyte Gulf navigated over 50,000 nautical miles and completed multiple strait and choke point transits, to include the Strait of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the Bab-el Mandeb, and the Strait of Hormuz.
While underway, Leyte Gulf also commemorated the 75th anniversary of its namesake, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The largest sea battle in modern history, Leyte Gulf was a decisive turning point for U.S. efforts in the Pacific during World War II. “No Higher Honor,” a phrase used by Lt. Cmdr. Robert Copeland as he recounted the valor of his Sailors as they fought during the battle, became a theme for the crew of the ship during deployment.
Additional ships of CSG 12, including USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94), deployed with the strike group in April and returned to Norfolk in November. Flagship Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), along with its embarked airwing, Carrier Air Wing 7, and the staffs of CSG 12 and Destroyer Squadron 2, remain on deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific.