Monday, March 23, 2009

Carter Hall Prepares for Return Home After Successful Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker, Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group Public Affairs

USS CARTER HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) has reached the final stages of its seven-month deployment to the Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation and is making preparations to return to her homeport at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.

While deployed, Carter Hall served as an Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) in the North Arabian Gulf as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 158, acting as a support platform for both helicopters and small boats, which allowed coalition forces to conduct interaction patrols with local dhows. Carter Hall also contributed to the security of oil platforms, supported other warships in the area, and served as a training platform for dozens of Iraqi Sailors and Marines.

"Carter Hall's success as an AFSB was only possible through the combined efforts of the crew's hard work and the ship's versatility," said Carter Hall's commanding officer Cmdr. Jeff Sinclair. "I am proud of how well the crew attacked each new challenge head on as we continued to operate while expanding our role daily in that unique environment."

During the deployment, Carter Hall was recognized for its superior performance by winning the Battle Effectiveness (Battle "E"), Golden Anchor, and Commander, Navy Exchange Command Best in Class Ship's Retail and Services Excellence awards.

"Carter Hall was an excellent example of the surface fleet pushing the envelope and taking the fight to the enemy," Sinclair said. "The crew's around-the-clock performance was above and beyond the call of duty during all operations, exercises, drills and day-to-day conduct."

Carter Hall also conducted antipiracy operations and other critical missions while maintaining a safe and professional work environment.

"The crew did an outstanding job, and I am extremely proud to have led them," said Carter Hall's executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Strandquist. "They demonstrated excellence and professionalism in every operation we were tasked with."

Deployment was also an opportunity for Sailors to hone their skills and job specialties. Junior Sailors were able to benefit from the guidance of their chain of command and leading chief petty officers.

"It is the Sailors on the deck plates who deserve the credit and recognition for a job well done," said Carter Hall's Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Don Ouellette. "The Chief's Mess had an incredibly successful seven-month deployment because we have seen the crew answer every call for tasking with pride, dedication and professionalism. We bring home a much more mature and cohesive group of warriors than what we left home with."

Ouellette hopes that Sailors deploying for the first time have learned to appreciate all the facets of life and freedoms they left behind at home.

"As Sailors, we offer up our lives in service to our great nation in order to protect our way of life for our family and friends at home," Ouellette said. "It is an honor and a privilege to go out and defend the freedoms of American citizens."

Carter Hall is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) supporting maritime security operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.