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Two Navy ships in the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group deployed in the Western Pacific were expected to arrive home in Washington’s Puget Sound region Friday.

The USS Carl Vinson, the carrier that replaced the USS Kitty Hawk on station in the Western Pacific earlier this year, was expected home in Bremerton, Wash. And the frigate USS Ingraham was due back in Everett, Wash.

The USS Sacramento, the group’s fast-combat support ship, arrived Thursday in Bremerton, but its guided-missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, remains at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.

The San Diego-based Lassen is in port for maintenance, and a date for its return has not been announced.

The Carl Vinson’s return ends an eight-month deployment for the strike group and the 6,400 sailors assigned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, its air wing, escort ships and command staffs.

The Carl Vinson left Bremerton on Jan. 13. Its tour was a “backfill” measure for the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group, sent to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Kitty Hawk returned to Yokosuka on May 6 for a summerlong overhaul that ended Sept. 9. The Vinson group remained in the region while the Kitty Hawk was in dry dock.

About 70 aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 9 squadrons aboard the Vinson departed last Sunday.

On Monday, the carrier pulled into San Diego Bay, mooring at North Island Naval Air Station, Calif., to offload remaining air wing personnel and equipment, Navy officials said. Then, the 100,000-ton aircraft carrier headed home to Bremerton.

The Vinson strike group made its presence known in the Pacific from as far north as the Korean Peninsula, to as far south as Australia.

“The primary mission … was to maintain presence in the Western Pacific,” Capt. Rick Wren, the Vinson’s skipper, said in a statement issued by the Navy. “That mission of presence, of course, demonstrated to all of our friends and allies our support for their livelihood.

“Our presence stabilized the region and reinforced our commitment to the welfare of the peoples of the nations across the Western Pacific.”

The Vinson strike group covered about 69,000 miles, flew more than 10,000 sorties, offered indirect strike-planning support for Operation Iraqi Freedom and participated in exercises Foal Eagle, Tandem Thrust and Ulchi Focus Lens.

Its port calls included Guam, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.

During nine port visits, strike group sailors and Marines participated in 27 community-relations projects, the Navy statement said.

Meanwhile, the Ingraham crew made port calls at Yokosuka, Okinawa and Kure, Japan.

The first Vinson strike group ship to return home was the USS Antietam, which arrived last Sunday at San Diego Naval Station.

The Vinson is the Navy’s third Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, commissioned in 1982. It is home to about 5,000 sailors and Marines, as well as about 75 combat and support aircraft.


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