BREMERTON, Wash. (March 2, 2012) Sailors man the rails aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) as the ship returns to homeport at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton after completing a seven-month deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Cotter)

BREMERTON, Wash. - Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to their homeport of Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash. March 2 after completing a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

On the flight deck, Sailors stood in dress blues formation and participated in the time honored tradition of manning the rails. Sailors were greeted by thousands of friends and family members on the pier as Stennis pulled into port.

Sailors were ecstatic to be back in their homeport.

"I'm grateful we made it back safely and I'm proud that we accomplished our mission," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Salena Thomas.

"I almost can't believe deployment is over," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Jamika Minor. "It's been a long seven months, but I'm glad I got through it. It made me stronger and I've developed a greater appreciation for the small things in life."

While in U.S. 7th Fleet, the JCSCSG spent roughly one month conducting operations with partner countries in the area and hosting both foreign and local dignitaries. The strike group made a stop in Hawaii before heading back to San Diego to drop off its embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 to their homeport. Family and friends of Sailors also known as tigers, came onboard the final leg home.

During its time in U.S. 5th Fleet, Stennis supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and its pilots led the final combat mission of Operation New Dawn in Iraq. While operating in that area, the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) supported the successful capture and detainment of suspected pirates off the Gulf of Oman.

JCSSG is comprised of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9; guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53); Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21); guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Pinckney (DDG 91), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).