The Carl Vinson Strike Group will return to the San Diego area today and tomorrow after a nearly 10-month deployment to U.S. 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet that included six months of strikes against the Islamic State.
The strike group – which includes aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), embarked squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1 with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley (DDG-101), USS Sterett (DDG-104) and USS Dewey (DDG-105) – departed California in mid-August and relieved the George H.W. Bush Strike Group in the Arabian Gulf in mid-October.
Prior to entering the Persian Gulf, the strike group participated in exercise Valiant Shield 2014, a “nine-day joint air, land and sea cooperation training between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army to develop tactics techniques and procedures in a joint environment,” in the Marianas Island Range Complex, according to a Navy news release. The strike group was joined by USS George Washington (CVN-73), Military Sealift Command ships and more than 100 aircraft from the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
During its time in the Middle East, CVW 17 successfully flew 12,300 sorties, including 2,382 combat missions, and dropped more than a half a million pounds of ordnance against the Islamic State, according to a Navy news release. The destroyer Sterett left the strike group for several solo missions, including transits of the Strait of Hormuz, port visits to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and participation in the U.S. – China Counter-Piracy Exercise 15 in the Gulf of Aden.
While transiting home, the strike group conducted a bilateral exercise with the Royal Malaysian Navy Royal Malaysian Air Force in the South China Sea in May. The exercise included Malaysian SU-30, MiG-29N and FA-18D Hornets, frigates and more.