BREMERTON — The USS Nimitz arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations last week with the conclusion of the aircraft carrier’s support of Operation Inherent Resolve in the Arabian Gulf.
The Nimitz departed the 5th Fleet Area of Operations after a more than three-month-long deployment to conduct airstrikes against ISIS targets in the Middle East and to provide maritime security for the fleet.
Since July, the Nimitz has launched more than 1,300 sorties and dropped more than 900 pieces of ordnance in support of the joint operation to defeat ISIS.
“The impressive dedication and resolute commitment to professionalism by the Nimitz crew while supporting day and night flight operations as well as the dedication of our cruisers and destroyers was vital to promoting the free flow of commerce and enhancing our ties with allies and partners,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11. “They performed flawlessly in extremely austere conditions maintaining an incredible spirit that was awe-inspiring.”
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group deployed to the Arabian Gulf is composed of the aircraft carrier, Carrier Air Wing 11, guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, and guided-missile destroyers USS Howard, USS Shoup, USS Pinckney and USS Kidd.
“All of us work together very closely,” said Capt. Michael Spencer, commander of Carrier Air Wing 11. “The teamwork that we have here is really amazing to see.”
After completing operations in the Arabian Gulf, the Nimitz joined the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Ronald Reagan with their respective carrier strike groups in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Operations on Wednesday, bringing the number of active carriers in the area — which spans the Western Pacific and Indian oceans — to the unusually high number of three.
U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Paul Newell said it was a coincidence all three carriers and their strikes groups happened to be in the Pacific at the same time.
“These deployments are part of a previously planned deployment cycle and it is not uncommon for incoming and outgoing carrier strike group transit timing to overlap as one begins a deployment the other concludes,” Newell said.
While with the 7th Fleet, the Nimitz strike group is scheduled to make a port visit to Sri Lanka and will be ready to support operations in the area if needed before the ships return to their homeports, according to the Nimitz public affairs office.
USS Nimitz Spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Theresa Donnelly said the date of the carrier’s return to Bremerton has not yet been determined.
“We do hope it’s by Christmas, but operational schedules routinely change, and I’d rather not speculate,” Donnelly said.
The Nimitz left its homeport of Bremerton on June 1.
Carrier Air Wing 11 Capt. Spencer said the Nimitz crew was successful in accomplishing the task at hand while in the Arabian Gulf.
“We really have done some amazing things,” Spencer said. “When it’s over, I will look back fondly at how well this team worked together and how effective we were when we were over here.”
It takes a lot of support to sustain a deployed aircraft carrier to ensure the crew is taken care of and battle-ready.
During the carrier’s deployment in the Arabian Gulf, the Nimitz received almost 7,600 pallets of supplies, and from those provisions, the crew ate more than 12,000 pounds of hamburgers, 69,000 cookies and drank more than 16,000 gallons of milk, the ship’s public affairs office said.
The ship also received 1,462 pallets of mail, which brought more than 160,000 pounds of care packages and letters from friends and family.
The Nimitz Medical Department has treated more than 3,000 sailors and marines while at sea during this deployment, including performing 40 surgeries on board.
The Nimitz made port visits to Bahrain and Dubai.