The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group has sailed out of U.S. 6th Fleet and is on its way back to its homeport in Norfolk, Va.
The strike group is wrapping up the second of two back-to-back three-month deployments as part of the Navy’s first attempt to demonstrate the Pentagon’s dynamic force employment concept.
The HST CSG departed in April, returned home for a five-week-long working port visit in Norfolk in July, and then left again in late August to head to the High North.
During the second prong of the deployment, the strike group bucked all recent norms for carrier strike groups: bypassing ongoing missions in the Middle East, the ships sailed north to Canada for training and then on to Iceland, Great Britain and Norway. The strike group spent a couple weeks operating north of the Arctic Circle, a first since the early 1990s. All told, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and its escorts had a presence in the Atlantic Ocean and Norwegian, Mediterranean and Adriatic seas.
“The National Defense Strategy makes clear that we must be operationally unpredictable to our long-term strategic adversaries, while upholding our commitments to our allies and partners,” Adm. James Foggo, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, said in a statement today.
“That’s what we’ve done with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. The operations the strike group conducted across the region alongside our allies and partners – and withstanding a variety of austere environmental conditions in the High North – showcase our inherent flexibility, and prove that there are no international waters off limits to our forces, and nothing limiting their ability to support our allies, anywhere or at any time.”
Highlights of the deployment include participating in exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018 from the Adriatic Sea – the first time a carrier has launched aircraft from across the European continent to participate in the exercise, according to the Navy statement – participating in Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 from Norway’s Vestfjorden territorial waters, conducting dual-carrier operations involving F-35C Joint Strike Fighters from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), and working with a slew of NATO allies and partners on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Truman is making the most of an operating area where carriers typically haven’t gone for a couple of decades. And in doing so, we are rebuilding our muscle memory,” Foggo said in a recent podcast entitled, “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theaters.”
“It’s very important that we take those lessons back home for other future strike group deployments.”
In recent weeks, the strike group sailed to the warmer waters of the Mediterranean, operating off the coasts of Portugal and Spain and in the Adriatic Sea on the eastern side of Italy. The carrier passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on Dec. 4 to return to the Atlantic and is now on its way home.
Truman CSG Commander Rear Adm. Gene Black previously alluded to the strike group returning home before Christmas, noting in a phone interview with USNI News that, whereas in July for the working port visit “we came back in working uniform and we got to work, this time we’re going to have the whole homecoming with Santa Claus and the band and the radio station, and all the good stuff that comes with that.”
Truman and the strike group will remain on call upon returning home, as part of the sustainment phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan that requires the ships to remain at peak readiness in case they are called upon as a surge force or to deploy to an area where there is no strike group.
The units of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group that have departed 6th Fleet and returned back to U.S. Fleet Forces Command waters include: Truman, embarked squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60), Destroyer Squadron 28 leadership, and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98).