Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 fly in formation over USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), left, and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) during an air and sea power demonstration before returning to San Diego. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Bryan Niegel)

SAN DIEGO - More than 7,000 John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) Sailors returned to San Diego following a regularly scheduled seven-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region Aug 10.

JCSSG left on deployment Jan. 15 and operated in both U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility -- including more than 60 days in the South China Sea.

Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, commander, JCSSG, commended the Sailors on completion of their deployment.

"I am proud of our Sailors and their dedication during the last seven months," said Hitchcock. "They performed admirably, excelling in both complex exercises and the often demanding maritime environment. The success of our strike group was a team effort, the result of preparation, training and the truly exceptional Sailors who make up crews, squadrons and staffs. They demonstrated once again that the U.S. Navy can operate around the world, promoting maritime security alongside our international partners and friends."

While underway, JCSSG worked alongside international partners during exercises Balikatan, Komodo, Foal Eagle, Malabar and Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). International exercises provide units from different countries with opportunities to share their experience and improve their ability to work together in the maritime environment. JCSSG also conducted dual carrier operations with the Ronald Reagan Strike Group off the coast of Japan, during which both aircraft carriers worked in concert with one another, conducting coordinated flight operations.

Ships from JCSSG made port calls to Fiji, Guam, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. These port visits provided Sailors the opportunity to interact and experience the culture of the countries they visited. Many Sailors volunteered alongside local groups in community service projects, while others took part in organized tours provided through the ships' Moral, Welfare, and Recreation programs.

Strike group ships sailed more than 66,000 nautical miles over the course of their time underway, while aircraft flew over 19,000 hours with fixed wing aircraft launching and landing from the aircraft carrier's catapults and recovery gear more than 8,500 times.

JCSSG consists of aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).

DESRON 21's ships which deployed with the strike group include Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), USS Stockdale (DDG 106), and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93).

CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, and Fleet Logistics Combat Support Squadron (VRC) 30 of San Diego; Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112 of Point Mugu, California; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 of Whidbey Island, Washington; and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 151, 97, 41 and 14 of Lemoore, California.

Chung-Hoon completed the first homecoming and remained at her homeport of Pearl Harbor following the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise Aug 4.

Aircrew from CVW 9 squadrons returned home Aug. 9 after conducting a "fly-off" of aircraft from John C. Stennis. The remaining air wing personnel rode the ship to Naval Air Station North Island where they offloaded their equipment and the rest of their personnel.

John C. Stennis and JCSSG staff will return to their homeport of Bremerton, Washington, following the brief stop in San Diego.

DESRON 21 ships Stockdale and William P. Lawrence, and JCSSG air and missile defense commander Mobile Bay will return to Naval Base San Diego Aug. 11.