SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego-based ships and sailors in the carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson returned to San Diego Friday morning after a deployment of more than five months.
The aircraft carrier and an escorting destroyer, the USS Wayne E. Meyer, left on Jan. 5 and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain followed one day later.
The ships and their crews took part in several exercises with the navies of allied nations and provided a show of force in the Sea of Japan during a time of heightened tensions with North Korea.
The Lake Champlain, which honors a decisive naval battle in the War of 1812, was involved in a non-injury collision with a South Korean fishing vessel that U.S. officials said ignored radio warnings and a horn blast during a time of limited visibility. The cruiser suffered a small dent when struck by the bow of the fishing boat in the May 9 incident.
The Vinson, named after a Georgian who served in Congress for more than 50 years, is best known as the vessel that received the body of Osama bin Laden after he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan in 2011. During its previous deployment, a website believed to be friendly to the Islamic State published the names of 100 military personnel who took part in strikes against the terrorist organization, four of whom were serving on the Vinson.
The Wayne E. Mayer is named for an admiral considered to be the father of the Aegis air defense system used by naval vessels.
Two squadrons of helicopters that served aboard the vessels during the deployment flew in to Naval Air Station North Island on Thursday.
The County of San Diego has a free, confidential, veteran-staffed 24/7 helpline available for active-duty military personnel, veterans, reservists, guard members, and their families. Courage to Call provides services including job searches, food and housing assistance, counseling, legal resources, and veterans transition assistance. The service is available by dialing 211 or looking at the Courage to Call website.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars also provides a community for troops returning home. You can find a post in San Diego County here.
Families who want to enjoy their time together can check out the 10News Summer Fun section for great ideas in every part of the county, on every budget.