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Ships, Sailors Of Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group Return To San Diego

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Sailors view the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson from the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, April 13, 2015.

The ships, sailors and helicopter crews of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group returned to San Diego Thursday following a deployment lasting more than nine months.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson docked just in time for lunch at Naval Air Station North Island. The guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyers Dewey, Gridley and Sterett pulled into Naval Base San Diego.

The group left San Diego in August to support strikes on Islamic State targets in the Middle East.

During the height of the battle, a website believed to be friendly to ISIS published a list of 100 U.S. military personnel, including names, photos and purported addresses. Four officers in charge of aviation aboard the Vinson appeared on the list. Military officials subsequently stressed the need for personnel and their families to be cautious with their social media postings.

The Navy said aircraft aboard the Vinson conducted 12,300 sorties — including 2,382 combat missions — and dropped 869 precision guided bombs while underway.

"The successful completion of such a lengthy deployment is a testament to the high quality of men and women who volunteer to serve in our United States Navy," said Rear Adm. Chris Grady, commander of the Carl Vinson strike group.

"Whether supporting strike operations over Iraq and Syria or being ambassadors during overseas port visits, these sailors represented our country with great distinction and honor," Grady said. "I'm extremely proud and honored to lead this team."

The strike group was relieved by the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt's task force in mid-April. The "Big Stick" is scheduled to relocate to San Diego at the end of its deployment.

While the Vinson was en route to San Diego, its crew and the "Red Lions" of embarked Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 rescued an ailing mariner about 400 nautical miles off the Hawaii coastline, Navy officials said. The 70- year-old man had been alone at sea on his 35-foot sailboat for more than 30 days during a trans-Pacific trip.

Texts the mariner sent to his wife via satellite phone triggered a series of calls between the Coast Guard and Navy officials, who sent the Vinson to assist the man on Sunday. He received treatment from the ship's medical department.

Air squadrons aboard the ship returned to bases around the Western United States Wednesday, including North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado. One of the squadrons was based in Virginia.

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