The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), an element of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG), returned to its homeport in Naval Station Norfolk, July 23 following a four-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.
On April 21, Vella Gulf transited the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea en route to 5th Fleet. While in theater, the ship provided close-air support for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship HMCS Calgary (FFG 335) in the Arabian Sea May 31.
Vella Gulf completed multiple transits in 5th Fleet through the Strait of Hormuz escorting the United States Naval Ships USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14) as well as other motor vessels, upholding the United States’ continued commitment to freedom of movement and maneuverability in theater.
“Team 72 faced one of the most rigorous deployment schedules of anyone in the fleet, and these outstanding Sailors made it all look easy,” said Capt. Michael P. Desmond, commanding officer, USS Vella Gulf (CG 72). “The Sailors of Vella Gulf worked extremely hard in enabling our ship to provide the necessary support to the IKE CSG across many missions during this deployment with total professionalism.”
Desmond added that Vella Gulf’s crew embodied and epitomized the highest caliber of resilience over the last 18 months and that their determination and focus was a daily inspiration for each other throughout deployment.
On June 8-9, Vella Gulf participated in Exercise Eager Defender while operating in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The exercise consisted of tactical maneuvers, photography events, live-fire gunnery exercises and drills for both maritime infrastructure protection and high value unit defense. Other participating units included the U.S. Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat USCGC Monomoy (WPB 1326), and Kuwaiti vessels, KNS Al-Garoh (P 3725) and KNS Istiqlal.
“I have witnessed many Sailors establish themselves, soar to new heights in performance, and easily gain achievements I thought were nearly unattainable,” said Yeoman First Class Anthony Bradley, a Sailor aboard Vella Gulf. “One remarkable achievement I appreciate is how much we improved our unit cohesion.”
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) an element of the IKE CSG, and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), flagship of the IKE CSG, returned to Naval Station Norfolk on July 16 and July 18, respectively. The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and USS Mahan (DDG 72) remain on deployment and will return to Naval Station Norfolk at a future date.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is a multiplatform team of ships, aircraft and more than 5,000 Sailors, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe. The Navy provides a ready, flexible force capable of responding to a broad range of contingencies.
Ships of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott F. Robertson, include the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), commanded by Capt. Paul F. Campagna; the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey (CG 61), commanded by Capt. Joseph A. Baggett, and USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), commanded by Capt. Michael P. Desmond; Destroyer Squadron 22, commanded by Capt. Scott A. Jones, ships include the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57), commanded by Cmdr. Thomas McCandless, USS Laboon (DDG 58), commanded by Cmdr. Charles Spivey, USS Mahan (DDG 72) commanded by Cmdr. Chris Cummins, and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), commanded by Cmdr. Bo Mancuso.
Squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, commanded by Capt. Marcos A. Jasso, embarked on Eisenhower include the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, “Wildcats” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, “Rampagers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83; “Dusty Dogs” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7; “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74; “Screwtops” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 123; “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides.”