The oldest U.S. aircraft carrier still in service is back home in Washington state after a 7-month deployment.
The USS Nimitz, flagship for Carrier Strike Group 11, returned to its homeport in Bremerton on Sunday. During its deployment to the 3rd and 7th Fleet areas of operations, Nimitz conducted multinational exercises, long-range maritime strike exercises, anti-submarine warfare and other exercises, sailing more than 65,000 nautical miles and completing more than 14,500 aircraft launches and recoveries, a Navy news release said.
The carrier made port calls in Guam; Singapore; Busan, South Korea; Laem Chabang, Thailand; Sasebo, Japan; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and hosted two formal “big top” receptions in South Korea and Thailand, the release said.
Before returning home, Nimitz dropped off the embarked air wing of Carrier Air Wing 17 at Naval Air Station Coronado in California on June 28.
“Every day of the deployment, our sailors were relentless in the safe execution of operations,” said Capt. Craig Sicola, commanding officer of Nimitz during the deployment. Sicola formally took over command of the carrier from Capt. Douglas Graber during a change of command ceremony in San Diego on June 29, the release said. “I especially want to thank all our Nimitz families who supported and encouraged our sailors throughout these seven months.”
While deployed, Nimitz made history when it completed its 350,000th arrested aircraft landing April 22 while sailing in the South China Sea. An arrested landing — also known as a trap — is one where a landing plane contacts the aircraft carrier and its tailhook snags one of four cables that are laid across the deck, Stars and Stripes previously reported. By catching one of the cables, the tailhook immediately decelerates the fighter jet’s speed so that it can safely stop.