Three guided-missile destroyers returned to Naval Station Norfolk Tuesday, ending a seven-month deployment while the flattop they escorted remains on an extended stay at sea.
Bainbridge, Nitze and Mason deployed April 1 alongside the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which also was going to make a homeport shift to San Diego.
The strike group rushed to the Middle East in May “to send a clear and unmistakable message” to the Iranian regime amid spiraling tensions, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton said.
Lincoln remains on an extended deployment while its replacement, the Harry S. Truman, has been sidelined by repairs for an electrical issue.
The Norfolk-based guided-missile cruiser Leyte Gulf, which also deployed with Lincoln, remains at sea.
Surface ships from Truman’s strike group, Destroyer Squadron 28, deployed in September.
Speaking on Oct. 25 during the annual Military Reporters and Editors conference in Arlington, Virginia, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bob Burke estimated Truman will be fixed in “weeks, not months.”
While deployed to the 5th Fleet, the destroyers assisted in Operation Sentinel, including escorting merchant ships through the strategically important Strait of Hormuz to help with freedom of navigation. In June, Bainbridge responded following a string of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the U.S. blamed on Iran.
They also trained with regional partners and allies.
“I’m incredibly proud of how our sailors performed during this rigorous deployment," Capt. Chris Follin, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 2 said in a news release. "They can return home knowing that they made a positive impact for maritime security in some of the most consequential waterways in the world.”
Courtney Mabeus is a senior writer at Navy Times. Mabeus previously covered the military for The Virginian-Pilot, in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier.