Nearly 6,500 Sailors from the U.S. Navy’s Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) returned to Naval Station Norfolk Dec. 16 following an eight-month deployment.
Select ships from the strike group, including flagship USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), and Destroyer Squadron Two Eight (DESRON 28) guided-missile destroyers USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), were welcomed by friends and family after completing operations in the U.S. Second, Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of operation.
“The opportunity to perform the full spectrum of naval missions across every imaginable maritime environment during our deployment proved to our allies and potential adversaries alike what we already knew: that the American Sailor will always rise to the operational challenge in front of them,” said Commander of Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, Rear Admiral Gene Black. “From combat operations over Syria, to cooperative exercises and engagements with NATO allies and partners, to taking on the unpredictable conditions above the Arctic Circle, these Sailors rose to the challenges of this historic deployment with honor, courage, and commitment.”
HSTCSG deployed April 11 for a regularly scheduled deployment as part of the ongoing rotation of forward deployed forces to support maritime security operations and operate in international waters across the globe. Several strike group units returned to Norfolk in July 21 for a working port visit, until Aug. 28, when they departed to continue their deployment. The strike group’s ships and aircraft conducted a variety of missions, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation. The strike group also participated in numerous bi-lateral and multi-lateral engagements, including Lightning Handshake 2018, Baltic Operations 2018 and Trident Juncture 2018; as well as operations alongside Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Egypt and Norway.
“I’m incredibly proud of the men and women of Harry S Truman,” said USS Harry S. Truman’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Nick Dienna. “The performance of the Truman team over the last eight months, from supporting combat operations over Syria to operating in the unforgiving environment of the Arctic Circle, was nothing short of outstanding. This deployment showcased the phenomenal ability of these Sailors to perform at the highest level anywhere, any time.”
Along with operating across the Mediterranean, strike group ships crossed the Arctic Circle Oct. 19 and conducted sustained operations in the Norwegian Sea – the first carrier strike group to do so in nearly 30 years. For several days, the strike group also operated alongside Royal Norwegian Navy ships in the Vestfjorden, a sea area inside Norwegian territorial waters.
In addition to supporting partnership efforts during the deployment, embarked aircraft from Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW-1) launched sorties into Iraq and Syria in May and June in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, totaling 393 combat sorties over 2,808 hours.
Embarked squadrons of CVW-1, commanded by Capt. John Perrone, returned to home stations across the U.S., including Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, NAS Whidbey Island, NAS Jacksonville, NAS Lemoore and Naval Station Norfolk. These include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 “Red Rippers”; VFA-211 “Checkmates”; VFA-81 “Sunliners”; VFA-136 “Knighthawks”; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 “Rooks”; Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 “Seahawks”; Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 “Proud Warriors”; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11 “Dragon Slayers”; and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides.”
DESRON 28 destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Farragut (DDG 99) remained in the European region during the strike group’s working port visit of July and August, performing maritime security and theater anti-submarine warfare operations and exercises in the North Atlantic and Arctic, earning Farragut Sailors the Arctic Service Ribbon. Both ships returned to their homeports in November. USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) deployed from their respective homeports in June, and will return at a later date, following their deployments to U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleets, where they have performed theater security cooperative engagements and maritime security operations alongside partners and allies.