In this file photo, Philippine Navy ships BRP Rizal (PS 74) and BRP Pangasinan (PS 31) join the guided missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83) to conduct maneuvers in the Sulu Sea July 4 during the Philippines phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katerine Noll)

SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) is scheduled to return to San Diego Oct. 28, after a seven-month independent deployment to the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility.

"The crew of Howard always put their best foot forward and it showed in the successes that we had throughout deployment," said Howard's commanding officer, Cmdr. Andree Bergmann. "Team Howard was given amazing opportunities during this deployment."

During deployment, Howard participated in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2011, a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance force readiness between the U.S. and partner nations. Alongside the navies of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, Howard completed anti-submarine warfare operations; visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) boardings; divisional tactics; and navigation.

While in port, Howard Sailors participated in 10 community relations events that included painting schools in Thailand, setting up courts and sports fields, and handing out sports gear in Malaysia and the Philippines.

"We had the chance to work closely with our Navy partners during CARAT, increasing our skill level and sharing ideas. The most important part of CARAT was the lasting friendships that we made," said Bergmann.

At the conclusion of CARAT, Howard proceeded to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR). The ship patrolled the Gulf of Aden in support of Combined Task Force 151 counter-piracy operations. Howard responded to calls from merchant ships in transit, including one that resulted in the interception of a small skiff laden with piracy paraphernalia.

Throughout operations in U.S. Central Command AOR, Howard embarked an Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System (ERSS) team to provide medical assistance. The ERSS teams provide on-scene emergency care that enables patients to survive in the event of required transport to shore or carrier based military hospital facilities.