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John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Returns To San Diego

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is scheduled to return to San Diego today following a seven-month deployment to the western Pacific and Middle East.

An MH-60S Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 deliver...
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Above: An MH-60S Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 delivers supplies to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay.

The Carrier strike group includes the Nimitz-class carrier USS John C. Stennis, which is homeported in Bremerton, Wash., the San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay, guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney, USS Kidd, USS Dewey and USS Wayne E. Meyer, Destroyer Squadron 21 and Carrier Air Wing 9.

While deployed, the ships played a pivotal role in the draw-down of U.S. forces in Iraq, officials said.

On Dec. 18, an E-2C "Hawkeye'' aircraft that was part of Carrier Air Wing 9 flew the last Navy aviation mission over Iraq.

"Flying the last Navy air mission in Iraq was a historic achievement for all of us,'' said Capt. Dale Horan, former commander of Carrier Air Wing 9.

"Everyone in this strike group played a major part in making that happen and it's a part of history we will always share.''

In January, while supporting operations in Afghanistan, John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group forces thwarted an attempted pirate attack on a Bahamian-flagged cargo vessel and freed a group of Iranian mariners from the suspected pirates, Navy officials said.

"Our goal was safety and security, protecting the lives of those fishermen,'' said Cmdr. Jennifer L. Ellinger, commanding officer of the USS Kidd. "We were just happy to save lives and help people.''

The strike group also conducted several exercises with partner countries in the western Pacific and made stops in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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