USS CAPE ST. GEORGE, At Sea - The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) transited the Suez Canal on its way to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
The transit, conducted with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, brought Cape St. George Sailors closer to their final port visits as they make their way home to San Diego to conclude a deployment that will have seen them circumnavigate the globe.
"It was the light at the end of the tunnel," said Quartermaster 1st Class Joshua Koenig, leading petty officer of the ship's Navigation division. "It was definitely the turning point of the deployment after spending six months in U.S. 5th Fleet. It was the reality check that we're finally heading home."
Cape St. George spent nearly 12 hours transiting the 120-mile long canal.
"It was an awesome experience," said Lt. j.g. Tito Rivas, who stood officer of the deck watch during the transit. "It felt good to leave the Red Sea and finally reach the Mediterranean. At the end of the transit, you could feel everyone's mood change. It was a great milestone in our journey around the world."
Throughout the transit, Cape St. George Sailors coordinated with Egyptian military personnel and harbor pilots at various points along the canal to streamline the ship's course.
"Interacting with the pilots was an interesting experience," said Ensign Tyler Benson, who served as a conning officer during the transit. "They were very knowledgeable and gave us all of the direction we needed. There was a lot to keep track of, but the amount of experience the pilots had helped us complete the transit safely."
Cape St. George was escorted by an Egyptian patrol boat, which provided both guidance and protection. As an expression of gratitude, Cape St. George rendered honors to the boat once the two vessels parted ways.
Cape St. George is deployed as part of CSG-9, which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), embarked Carrier Air Wing 2 and Destroyer Squadron 9. Cape St. George is on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet AOR.