Friday, October 16, 2009

Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Coming Home

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Frank Nealy, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Four ships and more than 5,000 Sailors of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 will return to their homeport of San Diego Oct. 21 after a five-month Western Pacific deployment.

The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley (DDG 101) and USS Howard (DDG 83) will arrive in San Diego to be greeted by family members on the pier.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) will remain deployed in the Persian Gulf for a few extra weeks to provide maritime security operations (MSO), but are expected to arrive next month.

"This is the finest team of Sailors I've been fortunate to call shipmate," said Rear Adm. Scott Hebner, commander, CSG 7. "I could not be more proud of each and every Sailor and their families. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group has been pretty busy the last few years, executing missions across the capabilities of our national maritime strategy – and answering the call with impressive results every time."

USS Ronald Reagan and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 operated in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations, which encompasses the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean, for more than two months, providing 30 percent of all air support to U.S. and coalition ground forces in Afghanistan. In total, the air wing flew more than 1,600 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Ships of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group were also vital in counterpiracy and MSO operations off of Somalia and the Horn of Africa, and protected vital Iraqi infrastructure in the North Arabian Gulf.

"Every single Sailor knew how vital the mission was to accomplish," said Capt. Kenneth Norton, USS Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "Because they understood, regardless of their operational tempo, they performed the mission, not just to get it done, but to get it done well. They're selfless. Everybody did their job well, to provide service to our Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen in Afghanistan."

Additionally, Ronald Reagan's Sailors participated in 50 community relations (COMREL) projects during port visits to Singapore, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Thailand.

"Being able to afford our Sailors the opportunity to lend a helping hand to those who are truly in need, speaks volumes to the character of our Sailors," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW/AW/FMF) Marcus Taylor, who coordinated Reagan's COMREL projects. "I believe the Sailors that volunteer really should be commended for their selfless efforts. It is a clear display of maturity and devotion to being goodwill ambassadors for the Navy and the United States."

After returning home, many Sailors of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group will take leave to spend time with family and friends.

"This is my second deployment in two years," said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Adam Treptow, who will be going on leave to his hometown of Parker, Colo. "Homecoming is always an indescribable feeling. I'm too excited. This is a chance for me to get off the ship, relax, unwind and finally buy myself a new truck."

The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, the "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, the "Stingers" of VFA-113, the "Eagles" of VFA-115, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.

The Reagan is named after the 40th U.S. president, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.