USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) entered the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations(AOO) Jan. 19 after nearly three months supporting Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and New Dawn (OND), as well as maritime security operations and anti-piracy efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO.
While operating in the seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula, JCSSG played a pivotal role in the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and provided aviation support to coalition ground troops in Afghanistan.
After conducting weeks of command and control support operations to coalition forces in OND, an E-2C Hawkeye from the "Golden Hawks" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112 embarked aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) flew the last Navy aviation mission over Iraq Dec. 18.
"Flying the last Navy air mission in Iraq was a historic achievement for all of us," said Capt. Dale Horan, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 embarked aboard Stennis, the flag ship of the strike group.
"Everyone in this strike group played a part in making that happen and it's a part of history we will always share," Horan said.
In January, after transitioning from OND to supporting operations in Afghanistan, JCSSG forces thwarted an attempted pirate attack on a Bahamian-flagged cargo vessel, then freed a group of Iranian mariners held captive by the same crew of suspected pirates.
"This was a well-executed display of the mutli-mission capability of the carrier strike group and a testament to the professionalism of our Sailors," said Stennis' Command Master Chief Stanley Jewett.
In the 7th Fleet AOO, the strike group plans to conduct several readiness exercises with partner countries in the region as well as visits to Singapore and the Philippines before preparing to head back to the United States.
"The manner in which we've conducted ourselves and executed our mission is indicative of the character of our Sailors and the spirit of our country," said JCSSG commander, Rear Adm. Craig Faller. "While we have much to accomplish before returning home, and I'm confident that we will finish our deployment with the same level of professionalism and personal conduct we've displayed throughout."
The JCSSG consists of Stennis, the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), aircraft from CVW 9, and guided missile destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) from Destroyer Squadron 21.