The U.S. Navy announced that the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Nitze (DDG 94), and USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) returned to Norfolk Naval Station Nov. 5, marking the end of a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.
The ships deployed April 1 as part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 in support of maritime stability and security.
“Mason, Bainbridge and Nitze provided an adaptable and persistent force, adeptly accomplishing every mission we asked of them over multiple warfare areas,” said Capt. Chris Follin, commodore, DESRON 2. “I’m incredibly proud of how our Sailors performed during this rigorous deployment. They can return home knowing that they made a positive impact for maritime security in some of the most consequential waterways in the world.”
While in 5th Fleet the three destroyers’ participated in Operation Sentinel, maintaining freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce for merchant vessels in and out of the heavily transited Strait of Hormuz. These operations were instrumental in maintaining stability throughout the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, and Arabian Sea.
Nitze assisted with the medical evacuation of a Polish merchant mariner in the Gulf of Aden In May after a Safety of Life at Sea extraction was requested by the motor vessel (M/V) Jules Verne. Mason and Bainbridge rendered assistance to motor tanker (M/T) Kokuka Courageous in June after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman.
While in the U.S. 6th Fleet, Mason, Bainbridge, and Nitze participated in dual-carrier operations as part of the Abraham Lincoln CSG, which conducted joint training with the John C. Stennis CSG while operating in the Mediterranean. Their presence in 6th Fleet was emblematic of the multi-mission capability of the U.S. Navy’s globally-deployed force.
The destroyers also participated in realistic multilateral training with regional partners and allies to increase joint capabilities and strengthen partnerships, honing the skills necessary to achieve maritime superiority through presence. Various port visits were conducted in conjunction with these events to enhance relationships with partner nations.
The ships performed numerous training exercises to develop tactical competencies throughout the deployment. From carrier strike force operations with the John C. Stennis Strike Group, to dual operations with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, to exercises with partner navies and forces, the destroyers developed key skillsets to maintain readiness and interoperability.
The three ships each navigated more than 45,000 nautical miles and completed multiple strait and choke point transits, to include the Strait of Gibraltar, the Turkish Straits, the Straits of Messina, the Strait of Tiran, the Suez Canal, the Bab-el Mandeb, and the Strait of Hormuz.
“Deployments are difficult for our Sailors, but they are most difficult for our loved ones at home,” said Follin. “Our families are the bond that holds our Navy together, for without their unwavering support, our team would not be as strong a fighting force as we have proven to be. Your Sailors will earn accolades and awards for their actions on deployment but none of those compare to the honor, pride and respect we have for your superb efforts taking care of family at home while we were away.”
Additional ships of CSG 12, including flagship Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), remain on deployment supporting the U.S. 5th Fleet.