Thousands of sailors are set to deploy Saturday from Norfolk, Va., with the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush.
The Navy formally announced the departure this afternoon. The Bush will be joined by the Norfolk-based destroyer Truxtun, Carrier Air Wing 8 and two ships out of Mayport, Fla., the destroyer Roosevelt and the cruiser Philippine Sea.
More than 5,000 sailors are with the strike group, led by Rear Admiral John C. Aquilino. They're expected to be gone eight to nine months and will support operations in Afghanistan.
The Bush is commanded by Capt. Andrew J. Loiselle.
The Norfolk-based carrier Harry S. Truman, which deployed in July, is due home in early spring.
The destroyer Arleigh Burke is also leaving Saturday, for an independent ballistic missile defense deployment set to last eight months.