GULF OF OMAN — The end appears near for sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.
The ship, which departed Norfolk, Va., in July, launched the last of its planned sorties in support of the war in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Navy said in a news release. The announcement indicates the carrier and its strike group will soon begin its return voyage.
The Norfolk-based carrier George H.W. Bush, which is scheduled to replace the Truman, was held up for longer than expected in the Mediterranean Sea amid tensions in Ukraine. The Pentagon said Thursday that the Bush is now in the Red Sea.
The Truman's air wing, Carrier Air Wing 3, flew more than 2,900 combat missions since arriving in the region in August. The last flight came Tuesday.
Lt. Ian Higgins of Strike Fighter Squadron 32 flew the final sortie in an F/A-18F Super Hornet.
"We had to remain focused," Higgins told a Navy journalist afterward. "Finishing our support of (the war) may mean that we are closer to going home, but we still had to make sure the troops on the ground can make it home safely too.”