The aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush returned to Norfolk, Virginia, Sunday, concluding a nearly eight-month deployment to U.S. 6th Fleet.

The Bush, which replaced the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman in August, supported allies and partners to reinforce commitment to NATO while underway, the Navy said. In October, the carrier hosted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg while under NATO command as part of exercise Neptune Strike, which involved 31 ships and 135 aircraft from 21 different countries.

“The trust our strike group built with our Allies and partners is our competitive advantage as an Alliance,” said Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander of the Bush Carrier Strike Group, in a Navy news release. “Our teamwork increased our collective capability and deterred our adversaries, which I believe helped prevent expansion of war into NATO territory.”

The carrier also participated in exercise Juniper Oak in January, the largest joint exercise between the U.S. and Israel to date.

The exercise aimed to facilitate interoperability and readiness between the two countries, and featured a live fire exercise with more than 140 aircraft, 12 naval assets, High Mobility Rocket Artillery Systems, and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

The Bush Carrier Strike Group includes Carrier Air Wing 7, the destroyers Nitze, Truxtun, Farragut and Delbert D. Black, and the cruiser Leyte Gulf.

The Bush last deployed in 2017 to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, where it conducted flights and sorties over Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State. The embarked Carrier Air Wing 8 dropped nearly 1.8 million pounds of ordnance during that deployment.

The carrier wrapped up a 30-month long maintenance period in August 2021, which included a complete shaft and propeller overhaul, rudder refurbishment, catwalk and tank preservation, along with modernization updates to electronic and combat systems, catapults and hotel services, according to the service.

The drydocking planned incremental availability kicked off at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in February 2019.

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