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SAN DIEGO - The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) will return to San Diego, Feb. 27 following a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility (AOR).
JCSCSG includes the Nimitz class carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9.
While deployed in the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command AOR, JCSCSG played a pivotal role in the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq. Mobile Bay provided air defense for Stennis to provide aviation support to Coalition ground troops in Afghanistan. The JCSCSG also conducted counter-piracy and maritime security operations, and worked closely with military partners to build regional security and long-term stability.
In January, after transitioning from Operation New Dawn (OND) to supporting operations in Afghanistan, JCSCSG forces thwarted an attempted pirate attack on a Bahamian-flagged cargo vessel, and freed a group of Iranian mariners held captive by the suspected pirates.
"Our goal was safety and security, protecting the lives of those fishermen," said Cmdr. Jennifer L. Ellinger, commanding officer of guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd. "We were just happy to save lives and help people."
The strike group conducted several readiness exercises with partner countries in the Western Pacific as well as visits to Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines before preparing to head back to the U.S.
"Exercising together as partners is key to our cooperative strategy and builds our collective capacity to meet common maritime challenges like ensuring freedom of the sea," said the JCSCSG Commander, Rear Adm. Craig Faller, referring to the passing exercise the strike group conducted with the Republic of Singapore Navy in January.
On Dec. 18, an E-2C Hawkeye from the "Golden Hawks," of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, attached to CVW 9, flew the last Navy aviation mission over Iraq.
"Flying the last Navy air mission in Iraq was a historic achievement for all of us," said Capt. Dale Horan, former commander CVW 9 embarked aboard Stennis. "Everyone in this strike group played a part in making that happen and it's a part of history we will always share."
CVW 9 conducted more than 13,000 sorties during deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and OND. CVW 9 consists of HSC-8, HSM-7, and VRC-30 from NAS North Island; VFA-14, VFA-41, VFA-97, and VFA-192, from NAS Lemoore, CA; VAW-112 from NAS Point Mugu, CA, and VAQ-133 from NAS Whidbey Island, WA.
During port visits, more than 400 Sailors assigned to DESRON 21 participated in Community Service projects in 10 different countries where they interacted with nearly 1,700 citizens. The Sailors donated 16 pallets of medical, hygiene and toy supplies.
Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the west coast of North America to the International Date Line.