USS Carl Vinson, 2 Other Ships To Return To SD

USS Carl Vinson, USS Bunker Hill, USS Halsey Scheduled To Return Wednesday

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey are scheduled to return to San Diego on Wednesday after a deployment of nearly six months.

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Air crews aboard the Carl Vinson flew nearly 1,100 missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, including close air support missions, airborne electronic warfare missions and airborne command and control missions, according to the Navy. Pilots compiled around 6,600 flight hours during three months of operations in the North Arabian Sea earlier this year.

"This was the ship's second deployment in 18 months, and the crew performed superbly," said Capt. Kent Whalen, the Vinson's commanding officer. "I could not be more proud of my crew."

Their operations took place at a time of increasing tensions with Iran, which threatened to close the narrow Strait of Hormuz after economic sanctions began to affect the Middle East nation's economy.

The vessels sailed through the strait without incident. Later, however, a female sailor aboard the Halsey went missing, and her body was recovered in the Gulf of Oman.

The sailors also took part in exercises with Singapore, Britain, India and Australia, and participated in humanitarian projects in several countries.

The Bunker Hill's commander, Capt. Michael Ford, said his crew was excited to be coming home after serving as the primary air defense vessel for the Vinson Strike Group.

Various squadrons from the air wing aboard the Vinson are also returning home to various bases across the U.S.

The vessels left San Diego on Nov. 30.

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