Nimitz transits through Middle East on its way home

Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Lano observes the pre-flight inspection of an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on Nov. 6, 2013.


By HENDRICK SIMOES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain — The USS Nimitz transited through the Suez Canal again on Friday and returned into the Red Sea and the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, as it begins its journey back to its Everett, Wash., homeport.

U.S. Navy officials say the crew will not make it home for Thanksgiving, but will certainly be there in time for Christmas.

Recently the Nimitz spent about three weeks in the Mediterranean Sea conducting exercises with NATO allies. The Nimitz also made a surprise port call in Naples, Italy giving sailors a much needed break after the crew spent nearly 80 days at sea.

Since the carrier left Everett, Wash., on March 30, it has steamed through the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean.

The ship was scheduled to begin its journey home from the Middle East in late August after it was relieved by the USS Harry S. Truman. However, as the situation in Syria deteriorated in early September after the use of chemical weapons prompted speculation about a potential U.S.-led military strike, the Nimitz was ordered into the Red Sea as a “prudent move.”

While the threat of military action in Syria has receded in the pastmonth, the Nimitz continued its deployment in the area, keeping U.S. options for responding to any further crises open.

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An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Blue Diamonds of Strike Fighter Squadron 146 moves across the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz during flight operations on Nov. 6, 2013, while transiting the Mediterranean Sea.