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The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Strait of Gibraltar, July 7, 2021 on its way back to Norfolk after its second deployment in a year. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dean M. Cates)
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Strait of Gibraltar, July 7, 2021 on its way back to Norfolk after its second deployment in a year. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dean M. Cates) ()

(Tribune News Service) — The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is set to arrive back home in Norfolk on Sunday after its second deployment in a year — an unusually quick return to sea and one that saw the carrier play a central role in winding down two decades of war in Afghanistan.

It was a deployment that started with a focus on exercising with allied and friendly navies in and around the maritime chokepoints of Europe and the Middle East, operating with ships from Morocco, Greece, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The cruisers and destroyers of the Eisenhower’s strike group ranged even farther afield, joining Romanian-led exercises in the Black Sea.

Three months in, the Eisenhower got its first major change in direction — an assignment for its Oceana-based air wing to fly in support of the continuing campaign against Islamic State remnants in Syria and Iraq.

Moving on to the Arabian Sea, the Eisenhower drilled on multi-carrier operations with France’s Charles de Gaulle, an exercise that involves more than the challenges of coordinating operations of the Eisenhower in the expanse of the Arabian Sea and the de Gaulle in the narrow waters of the Gulf.

That’s when, just a few days after President Joe Biden set a Sept. 11 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin extended the Eisenhower’s deployment.

The pandemic, meanwhile, meant the crew had to be even more self-sufficient than usual — tackling such major challenges as a hydraulic fluid leak that took one of the carrier’s two rudders out of action and repair of one of the four giant elevators that lift planes from the hangar deck to the flight deck.

dress@dailypress.com

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