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Vinson, Sacramento return home next week

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is returning home to the United States West Coast this week, following an eight-month deployment to the western Pacific.

More than 6,400 Sailors assigned to the supercarrier, its air wing, escort ships and staffs will be greeted with a hero’s welcome. Aircrew from Carrier Air Wing Nine squadrons will make the first of many homecomings, as they conduct a “flyoff” of more than 70 aircraft from the aircraft carrier Sunday, Sept. 14.

The following day, Monday, Sept. 15, USS Carl Vinson will pull into San Diego Bay and moor at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., to offload the remaining air wing personnel and equipment. Carl Vinson will return to her homeport at Naval Station Bremerton, Friday, Sept. 19.

The strike group’s fast combat support ship, USS Sacramento, will arrive in the Puget Sound area Thursday, Sept. 18. Sacramento’s crew conducted 150 under way replenishments, delivering more than 26 million gallons of fuel to strike group ships and enabling them to maintain a constant presence in the region.

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group departed Southern California waters in mid-January and headed for training in Hawaii. On Feb. 7, while operating off the coast of Hawaii, the strike group was ordered to the western Pacific to backfill the Kitty Hawk Battle Group, which was deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Carl Vinson and her strike group met U.S. commitments in the Pacific Rim from as far north as the Korean Peninsula to as far south as the Australian continent. Meanwhile, the Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group supported operations in the Middle East and returned to its homeport (Yokosuka, Japan), and under went a scheduled maintenance period.

“The primary mission of this deployment was to maintain presence in the western Pacific,” said Capt. Rick Wren, commanding officer of Carl Vinson. “That mission of presence, of course, demonstrated to all of our friends and allies our support for their livelihood. Our presence stabilized the region and reinforced our commitment to the welfare of the peoples of the nations across the western Pacific.”

During the deployment, which covered 60,000 nautical miles — equivalent to two trips around the world — the Carl Vinson CSG flew more than 10,000 sorties, offered indirect strike-planning support for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and participated in several international naval exercises, including Foal Eagle, Tandem Thrust and Ulchi Focus Lens.

“By our theater security commitment, by our visits to various nations, and by our participation in multi-national exercises, we have been a very visible reminder to nations throughout the world that we have been ready, and are ready, to assist at maintaining peace and security wherever required,” said Rear Adm. Marty Chanik, Commander of Carrier Group Three and the Carl Vinson CSG.

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