Stennis Strike Group Departs U.S. 5th Fleet AOR 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Grant Wamack, John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs  
USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea - The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) departed the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), March 26, after spending more than five months operating with and supporting U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

The JCSCSG returned to the 5th Fleet AOR in late October after departing in January 2012, after spending five months back at homeport.

"By returning to the AOR after a compressed turnaround at home, you exemplified the highest ideals of dedication and service," said Vice Adm. John Miller, commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, and Combined Maritime Forces. "The extraordinary strength, courage and professionalism you displayed while conducting more than 9,000 combat sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom allowed theater and national objectives to advance both tactically and strategically."

"We contributed in real ways, and you all should be proud of that," said John C. Stennis' Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Reis during an address to Stennis Sailors to announce the completion of their final OEF mission.

The JCSCSG operated in the Arabian Gulf and North Arabian Sea while conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation engagements, and command and control support operations for coalition forces in Afghanistan. Aviators from embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 flew more than 9,000 sorties and more than 23,000 flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

"It's an honorable mission that we participated in, and it's important to understand it's not just us [aviators]," said Capt. Dell Bull, commander of CVW 9. "It's the guys in engineering, on the flight deck and the culinary specialists who allow us to maintain these airplanes, load weapons, etc. It takes a huge team effort to make that happen."

While in the AOR, the JCSCSG team conducted 28 Replenishment-at-Sea (RAS) evolutions moving more than 9,600 pallets of cargo, travelled more than 34,600 nautical miles and had port calls to Bahrain and Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates. The ship welcomed almost 50 distinguished visitors, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld, four Ambassadors, five Congressmen and almost 35 entertainers and athletes organized by United Services Organization (USO) and Navy Entertainment. The JCSCSG also conducted crew member exchanges and passing exercises with the Royal Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the French Navy.

"The manner in which we have executed the mission here is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the Sailors of the Stennis Strike Group team," said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of the JCSCSG. "We've done a great deal to strengthen relationships with our partners in this region, to support the troops on the ground and did our best to make this region more safe and secure. I hope that our Sailors and their families are proud of the important work they've accomplished on this surge deployment."

The U.S. 5th Fleet AOR encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water, including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.

JCSCSG consists of John C. Stennis, CVW 9, guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and Destroyer Squadron 21.

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