EVERETT — The USS Nimitz is headed home in time for the holidays.
After a nine-month deployment, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is expected to arrive in Everett on Monday, Navy officials announced Thursday.
The Nimitz left in late March and covered more than 80,000 nautical miles off Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“When we departed Everett earlier this year, we left our families and our friends to do our nation’s business,” said Capt. Jeff Ruth, Nimitz’s commanding officer. “After six months of consistently excellent work, the nation called upon us to remain in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility to allow our leaders options in response to a tense international situation. Every sailor can return home with pride in their personal accomplishments, endurance and in the tasks we completed as a team.”
The USS Nimitz serves as the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 11, led by Rear Adm. Michael S. White. The Nimitz Strike Group consisted of USS Nimitz, USS Princeton, Destroyer Squadron 23 guided-missile destroyers USS Shoup, USS Higgins, USS William P. Lawrence and USS Stockdale and Carrier Air Wing 11.
White said the Nimitz completed almost three months of Operation Enduring Freedom close-air support to coalition ground troops and provided a flexible 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,” White said.
The deployment extension enabled the Nimitz Strike Group to cross through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, where the strike group conducted operations with NATO Allies.
The squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 11 include the “Blue Diamonds” of Strike Fighter Squadron 146, the “Argonauts” of VFA-147, and the “Black Knights” of VFA-154, the “Death Rattlers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117, the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, and the “Indians” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, the “Wolf Pack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75, and the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30, Detachment 3. The squadrons’ aircraft and flight crews disembarked prior to a brief stop in San Diego to off-load the air wing’s support crew and equipment.
Throughout the deployment, the Nimitz Strike Group spent 63 days in direct support of coalition forces for Operation Enduring Freedom, during which time it executed 1,374 sorties in support of combat operations.
It also conducted exercises with coalition countries and other nations, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, the Republic of Korea and Japan. It visited port visits in the Republic of Korea, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Italy.