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SAN DIEGO – The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and embarked Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 arrived at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Dec. 12, following an eight-and-a-half-month deployment to the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
CVW-11 and DESRON 23 disembarked Nimitz following the ship's arrival.
"It's great to be home and reunited with all of our loved ones," said Capt. Kevin Mannix, commander of CVW-11. "My hats off to every member of the air wing for making this a successful deployment."
During the course of Nimitz' deployment, CVW-11 tallied 9,344 aircraft launches and clocked more than 29,440 total flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and ensured the safe operation of CSG 11.
Capt. Thomas Workman, commodore, DESRON 23, led efforts to provide tactical control of 12 U.S. and coalition ships during the extended deployment.
Throughout the operations DESRON 23 ensured superior defense of USS Nimitz, robust multi-warfare area tactical proficiency and readiness, highly effective afloat and ashore theater security cooperation, as well as sound management of the operations, maintenance, training and deployment preparedness of seven San Diego-based surface assets, Workman said.
"The honors of commanding DESRON 23 and serving as a warfare commander within Nimitz Strike Group are matched only by the respect deserved by our Sailors and their families," Workman said. "Their mutual dedication to our national objectives is unparalleled and represents the cornerstone of DESRON-23, Nimitz Strike Group, and U.S. Navy success."
Commander, CSG 11, Rear Adm. Michael S. White had high praise for CVW-11 and DESRON 23's contribution.
"The air wing and the DESRON have done an outstanding job," said White. "As a team, they have been an invaluable asset to the strike group, and I wish them all a well-deserved rest."
"Nimitz Strike Group successfully completed almost three months of Operation Enduring Freedom close-air support to coalition ground troops, and provided a flexible and capable response option to deter Syria. I am so proud of our Sailors and Marines, who showed remarkable resiliency through several extensions with limited time in port and met all tasking," said White.
The deployment extension enabled the Nimitz Strike Group to transit the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, where the strike group conducted operations with our NATO Allies.
USS Nimitz serves as the flagship for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, led by White. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group consisted of USS Nimitz, USS Princeton (CG 59), DESRON 23 guided-missile destroyers USS Shoup (DDG 76), USS Higgins (DDG 86), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11.
CVW-11 consists of the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, the "Argonauts" of VFA 147, the "Blue Diamonds" of VFA 146, the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, the "Gray Wolves" of Electronic Attack Squadron 142, the "Wallbangers" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117, the "Indians" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6, and the "Wolf Pack" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 75.
Once Nimitz departs Naval Air Station North Island, the carrier will transit to its homeport of Everett, Wash.