Stennis expected home Friday
March 1, 2012 · Updated 1:00 PM
Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis are scheduled to return to Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton today and end a seven-month deployment to the Middle East.
"I'm really excited to go home and finally see my newborn baby," said Enginemen 3rd Class Siarhei Kulinkovich, originally from Novopolotsk, Belarus. "I can't wait to be with her all the time and hold her in my arms."
Thousands of friends and family members are expected to be waiting on the pier as Stennis pulls into port following duty that included threats from Iran while passing through the Straight of Hormuz, launching the Navy's last plane into Iraq during a combat mission and setting free Iranian fishermen held captive by Somali pirates who were later held in the brig
While deployed, Stennis also sent more than 1,000 sorties into Afganistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In January, the Stennis Strike Group thwarted an attempted pirate attack on a Bahamian-flagged cargo vessel in the northern Arabian Sea.
"We were able to continue combat operations in Afghanistan and complete a refueling-at-sea event while simultaneously preventing a pirate attack then pursued and captured the culprits, freeing a crew of Iranian mariners they were holding captive," said Rear Adm. Craig Faller, commander of group said in a press release. "This exemplifies precisely the multi-mission capability of the carrier strike group to operate forward, save lives and make a positive impact."
During its return home, Stennis joined the carrier group's stop in Hawaii before the trip to San Diego were the carrier droped off their accompanying air wing personnel and equipment.
"Our crew has served as model ambassadors of our country while conducting both combat and strategic operations in a high-stress environment for seven months," said Capt. Ronald Reis, Stennis' commanding officer. "And they have exceeded expectations every step of the way."