Aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman finally returned to Naval Station Norfolk Tuesday ― wrapping up its third overseas deployment in the past four years.

Although the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s deployment was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all members of the strike group have returned to their home ports now that the Truman is back.

The Truman, which departed Norfolk in November, supported dual-carrier operations, air defense exercises and anti-submarine warfare exercises in the U.S. 2nd, 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations during the deployment, the Navy said. In total, the carrier traveled more than 56,000 nautical miles within U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command.

Even though the carrier strike group concluded its deployment in the spring, the Navy announced in April the group would stay at sea in the Western Atlantic amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The move was designed to safeguard the crew from the virus, and also increase readiness in the event of a rapid response forward deployment.

During the sustainment cruise, the strike group participated in a NORTHCOM-led exercise Vigilant Osprey to conduct anti-submarine warfare and air defense exercises with the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. The four-day exercise also included U.S. Space, Transportation and Strategic commands.

Earlier this month, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite visited the Truman and revealed the ships of the carrier strike group would return to their home ports in June.

“I know what it’s like to be deployed away from the ones you love,” Braithwaite said June 4 on the Truman, per a Navy news release. “I want you to all know how much that means to not only people like me in leadership roles, but more importantly, people in America. You are the tip of the spear.”

“You’ve done your duty, and now it’s time to come home,” Braithwaite said.

Braithwaite also said all members of the strike group earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon for their service during the deployment.

“This entire strike group deserves to be recognized,” Braithwaite told the sailors. “For the rest of your service and the rest of your lives, you can look down at your service ribbons and remember this deployment for its distinct contribution to our national security.”

The Senate confirmed Braithwaite May 21 as the next secretary of the Navy, and he was sworn in May 29.

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