Aircraft carrier USS Stennis returns to Bremerton

BREMERTON, Wash. - The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis returned home Friday to a rousing, joyous welcome in Bremerton under sunny skies.

The ship with a crew of about 3,000 sailors, completed an eight-month deployment that covered 66,000 miles through the western Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Navy says aircraft from its deck flew more than 1,300 missions in direct support of fighting in Afghanistan and 9,000 total sorties throughout the Middle East area of operations.

The Kitsap Sun reports the Stennis had made a quick turnaround and was in port for just five months last year after its previous seven-month deployment to the Middle East. So, some Stennis families have been apart for 15 of the past 20 months.

"It's wonderful to be back home," said Capt. Ron Reis, Stennis' commanding officer. "A lot has been asked of these sailors and their families but I am very proud of what they have accomplished."

Security was heavy at the Kitsap naval station as the giant 1,092-foot carrier pulled in.

While in the Western Pacific, Stennis conducted theater security cooperation exercises, took part in community service projects and hosted military and civilian leaders from Malaysia and Thailand, as well as the republics of Maldives, Indonesia and Singapore.