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Surface Strike Group Returns to Norfolk

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051116-02
Release Date: 11/16/2005 9:57:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Maja A. Dyson, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- More than 1,000 Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Mahan (DDG 72) and USS Mitscher (DDG 57), and the frigate USS Hawes (FFG 53), returned to their homeport at Naval Station Norfolk Nov. 15 from supporting the global war on terrorism.

Cmdr. Stephen Evans, commanding officer of Mitscher, had many things to say about the ship’s successful time and accomplishments at sea.

“This was a fantastic deployment,” he said. “We deployed to the Mediterranean as part of the standing NATO Maritime Forces Group 2, where we operated daily with our NATO allies. We worked on our integration and capability to fight as a united unit.”

Along with other NATO ships, Mitcher patrolled the Mediterranean, conducting surveillance and Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) in support of the global war on terrorism. They also took part in Operation Active Endeavor, establishing a presence in the Mediterranean and patrolling merchant traffic to prevent terrorism and illegal activities.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Mitcher McGraw, a Sailor aboard Mitscher, said the ship's time at sea helped not only their crew, but also the countries with which they trained.

“We trained a lot while we were out to sea,” said McGraw. “I could tell that teamwork was very important to this crew.”

Evans said that many of the exercises the ship performed allowed them to work with NATO allies such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

“We operate daily with NATO partners, integrating as a unit,” said Evans. “Once we gained the capability to fight as a united unit, we fulfilled our most successful part of our mission: the growth and development of our Sailors.”

Evans said now that they’ve returned home, Mitscher Sailors will make sure their combat readiness continues for months and months to come.

Assigned to U.S. 5th Fleet, Task Force 150, Hawes worked independently, performing MIO off the Horn of Africa and in the Arabian Sea.

During deployment, Mahan patrolled the Black Sea and strengthened allied capabilities by providing MIO training to Bulgarian, Romanian and Ukrainian forces. They also participated in FRUKUS '05, a multilateral fleet training and command post exercise with France, Russia, and the United Kingdom in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

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