Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) arrived in San Diego on February 26 after spending over 260 days deployed, continuing the US Navy’s recent practice of ultra-long deployments.
The carrier will disembark its Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 in San Diego before proceeding to its homeport in Bremerton, Washington.
USS Nimitz, along with other ships from its carrier strike group spent nearly 11 months deployed in the US 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
With the 263-day deployment, Nimitz came close to the record 295-day deployment performed by USS Abraham Lincoln last year. In addition to extended durations, the carriers are also performing back-to-back deployments, without major maintenance period in between. Officials are justifying the increased tempo of operations with the need to maintain aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East.
NIMCSG was the first carrier strike group to embark on a deployment for the US Navy after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The strike group was comprised of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, Destroyer Squadron 9, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104).
“These young men and women worked tirelessly to incorporate mitigations that ensured the health, safety and readiness of the crews,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander, CSG-11.
“They made important contributions to the security and stability in the Middle East, Africa, and Western Pacific during a period of tension and transitions. I am immensely proud of this team and all that they accomplished during this unprecedented deployment.”
The flagship crew walked aboard Nimitz April 1, 2020, at their homeport Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, Washington. Sailors stationed in San Diego embarked later that week aboard Princeton and Sterett for a restriction-of-movement period to ensure the health and safety of the crew during the pandemic.
NIMCSG departed San Diego for deployment June 8 following strike group integrated training.
While deployed, the strike group completed five dual carrier operations in the US 7th Fleet area of operation with the Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Groups, and participated in the India-hosted multinational exercise Malabar 2020 with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Australian Navy in the Bay of Bengal.
In the Middle East, NIMCSG supported Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and Operation Inherent Resolve with close air support and defensive counter-air missions against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The strike group provided associated and direct support to the 33-nation coalition Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and the 8-nation coalition International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) to ensure the free flow of commerce and maritime security in three critical waterways. NIMCSG also operated off the coast of Somalia in December to support Joint Task Force –Quartz and Operation Octave Quartz during a repositioning of US forces within East Africa.