Sailors and Marines man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman as the ship returns to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk Friday after completing a 9-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (MCS Emily M. Blair / Navy)
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Christy Brugger greets her husband Lt. Mike Brugger as the 'Ragin' Bulls' of VFA-37 return Thursday to Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va. (Steve Earley / The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
NORFOLK, VA. — The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group on April 18 returned to unseasonably cold weather, but a warm welcome from thousands following a nine-month deployment.
The carrier covered nearly 68,000 nautical miles and 18 chokepoint transits, to include 12 through the Strait of Hormuz.
The group returned to Norfolk, Va., and Mayport, Fla., after a 269-day deployment cruising the Persian Gulf and flying combat missions over Afghanistan.
Thousands were on the pier to see the Truman pull into Norfolk along with the destroyers Bulkeley and Mason and the cruiser San Jacinto. The cruiser Gettysburg headed to its home port in Mayport. The flotilla also included Carrier Air Wing 3 and fast combat support ship Arctic.
Capt. Robert Roth, Truman’s skipper, said the top accomplishment was to return with no aircraft mishap, no one severely injured and “with every single person we left with safely.”
The CSG’s aviators flew 2,902 combat sorties, including 16 bomb strikes and four strafes, according to tallies provided by the ship. More than 1,300 sailors earned their warfare qualifications, and 13 qualified as officers of the deck. One hundred and seventy-one sailors returned home as new parents.
The team will soon enter uncharted waters as pioneers of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, or OFRP. This new plan is designed to extend the carrier strike group deployment cycle to 36 months to better maintain ships and restore a measure of predictability to deployments.■
— Lance M. Bacon