NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 5,000 Sailors serving as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG) returned to their homeports in Norfolk, Va. and Mayport, Fla. July 3, following five months of operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and embarked squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), are returning from their second deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet and 6th Fleet areas of operations in the past year.
"Operating forward, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and into the Arabian Gulf, the Sailors of Eisenhower Strike Group exemplified the professionalism, flexibility, and combat readiness that are the hallmarks of our Navy," said Rear Adm. Mike Gilday, Commander Carrier Strike Group 8. "A second successful deployment would not have been possible without the inspirational teamwork on Ike and the rock-solid support from our families and friends back home. Our Sailors and their families are definitely America's All Stars."
While deployed, IKECSG served in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
"It's been a busy 12 months for the Ike Five Star Warriors. I am so proud of this winning team and the spectacular work they have done. No one could have accomplished the mission better," said Capt. Marcus Hitchcock, Ike's commanding officer. "We are thrilled to return home to our friends and family today - they have sacrificed equally and supported us wonderfully. I would like to thank the Ike Sailors and their families for their unflagging commitment and dedication to our Navy and nation. They have earned a heroes welcome home."
During the five months away from their homeports, Eisenhower and Hue City safely steamed more than 30,000 miles, conducted eight strait transits, two Suez Canal transits, and CVW-7 launched their first sorties into Afghanistan March 24. The air wing flew 1,362 combat sorties, 8,033 hours, equating to 51 days in support of OEF.
"The Carrier Air Wing 7 team has shined once again," said Capt. Terry Morris, commander of CVW-7. "Our Sailors worked hard day in and day out over the last several months. They've earned all of their praises."
Capt. Dan Uhls, commanding officer of USS Hue City, echoed Hitchcock's comments about the magnificent work his crew has done during the deployment.
"I have been utterly amazed by the professionalism of the wonderful men and women who sail aboard Hue City," said Uhls. "Their resiliency in the face of back-to-back deployments, along with their personal and professional accomplishments while conducting our nation's business in the Arabian Gulf is awe-inspiring. They are truly America's finest and I have been proud to sail with them for the past year."
Eisenhower CSG is made up of Commander, Carrier Strike Group 8, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), the eight squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, and Destroyer Squadron 28. CVW-7 includes Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) One Two One "Bluetails," Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) One Zero Three "Jolly Rogers," Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) One Three One "Wildcats," Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) One Four Three "Pukin' Dogs," Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) Eighty-three "Rampagers," Electronic Attack (VAQ) Squadron One Four Zero "Patriots," Helicopter Anti-submarine (HS) Five "Nightdippers," and Fleet Logistic Support Squadron (VRC) Forty "Rawhides."
For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.
For photos of the USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) Homecoming view the gallery here.