Home Americas Theodore Roosevelt CSG ships start return home after COVID-hit deployment

Theodore Roosevelt CSG ships start return home after COVID-hit deployment

USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)
USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) returns to Naval Base San Diego after a six-month deployment. Photo: US Navy

US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) returned to San Diego on July 8.

Bunker Hill and Russell are part of the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group and departed on a deployment to the Indo-Pacific on January 17.

The flagship of the group, carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is set to return on July 9.

The carrier strike group deployment was disrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19 on board the carrier that led to a political scandal and eventually, the resignation of the US Navy secretary. USS Theodore Roosevelt was forced to spend some two months in Guam, battling the outbreak.

“While this deployment has been unlike many deployments of the past, the Bunker Hill team is excited to return home to San Diego after completing a very successful deployment,” said Capt. Shea Thompson, commanding officer of Bunker Hill. “The crew executed a broad spectrum of missions over the last six months while serving as Air Defense Commander for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9.

“During the course of our six-month deployment, we supported multiple freedom of navigation operations directly enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this high-powered team.”

Both Bunker Hill and Russell’s primary mission was conducting maritime security operations while in US 7th Fleet. Both ships also engaged in theater security cooperation engagements and multiple joint exercises with the US Marine Corps and Air Force.

“The nature of our deployment has been unique by any measure,” said Cmdr. Ryan Rogers, commanding officer of Russell. “The crew exceeded all expectations and professionally executed all tasking during our mission in the Western Pacific, and I am extremely proud.”

Bunker Hill and Russell participated in Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) dual-carrier operations in the Philippine Sea in March with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the USS America Expeditionary Strike Group (AMAESG) highlighting the interoperability of joint forces. Both Bunker Hill and Russell participated in dual carrier strike group operations in June.

Although COVID-19 inhibited many scheduled port visits, both Bunker Hill and Russell were able to visit several ‘safe haven’ ports. Bunker Hill made port visits in Saipan, Vietnam and Guam while Russell was able to visit Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Guam.