NORFOLK (NNS) -- Approximately 6,000 Sailors and Marines assigned to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) arrived at their homeports in Norfolk and Mayport, Fla., April 18, following a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.
While deployed, HST CSG conducted a full range of operations ranging from maritime security operations and multinational exercises, to providing air support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
HST CSG also conducted integrated operations with the French navy's Charles de Gaulle Strike Group over a five-week period in the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, and Arabian Gulf.
"I cannot overstate how proud I am of our young Sailors and Marines in the Truman Carrier Strike Group," said Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander, HST CSG. "They performed magnificently during some very challenging times overseas. We were deployed for nine months, including seven and a half months straight supporting operations in the Middle East region with a focus on building trust and confidence with our regional partners. Across the spectrum of operations at sea and in the air over Afghanistan, our crews executed with precision and professionalism, and when called upon, with great lethality."
During this deployment, originally scheduled for February 2013 but delayed just prior to the strike group's scheduled departure, ships assigned to HST CSG conducted 44 Strait of Hormuz transits and two Suez Canal transits.
Squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 flew 2,902 combat sorties totaling more than 16,450 hours in support of OEF from Aug. 27, 2013 to March 19, 2014.
"Team Battle Axe was on point, every day, on every mission," said Capt. George Wikoff, commander, CVW-3. "Everyone remained focused on mission accomplishment, from the aircrew in the cockpits to the maintainers keeping the aircraft flying, determined to keep our coalition troops safe on the ground in Afghanistan."
He credited teamwork as the driving force behind the air wing's success.
"Everything we did as an air wing, we did as a team," said Wikoff. "If it wasn't for Team Truman keeping the flight deck ready to launch and recover our aircraft, we wouldn't have been able to provide support to our coalition forces."
Capt. Bob Roth, commanding officer, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), praised his crew for their dedication, professionalism, and like Capt. Wikoff, his command's ability to work as a team.
"Nine months at sea as a forward-deployed combat team is an immense undertaking," he said. "The days were long and the work was challenging, but Team Truman never missed a beat and we met every challenge. The professionalism and dedication of our Sailors is unmatched. The teamwork between the ship and air wing was spectacular and a model for how it should be done. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this combat-proven team."
Sweeney expressed his sincere gratitude for the support HST CSG family members and friends extended to the strike group.
"I must thank our family members and friends for their resiliency and enduring support throughout our deployment," he said. "Without their support each and every day, none of our success would have been possible."
HST CSG consists of approximately 6,000 Sailors and Marines. Deployed units included Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 10 staff; CVW-3; 1st Combined Destroyer Squadron staff comprised of U.S. and Royal Navy personnel; aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Mason (DDG 87); guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56); and fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8).
CVW-3 was embarked on board Harry S. Truman with its associated squadrons - Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 "Swordsmen," VFA-37 "Ragin' Bulls," and VFA-105 "Gunslingers;" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312 "Checkerboards;" Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 "Seahawks;" Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130 "Zappers;" Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 "Dusty Dogs;" and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 "Swamp Foxes."
CVW-3, VFA-32, VFA-37, VFA-105, returned to Naval Air Station Oceana; VAW-126 and HSC-7 returned to Naval Station Norfolk; HSM-74 returned to NAS Jacksonville and VFMA-312 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.; and VAQ-130 returned to NAS Whidbey Island April 17.