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Aircraft carrier to stop in Pearl Harbor after deployment in Middle East, South China Sea

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter departs the USS Theodore Roosevelt in a V-22 Osprey after visiting the aircraft carrier in the South China Sea with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Nov. 5.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt will stop in Pearl Harbor Sunday after an around-the-world deployment that included more than six months in the Middle East and a shipboard visit by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the contentious South China Sea. 

The carrier’s strike group carried out 1,812 combat sorties totaling 10,618 combat flight hours, taking on 14.5 million gallons of jet fuel and expending 1,085 precision-guided munitions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to defeat the ISIL terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, the Navy said. 

Family and friends will be picked up in Hawaii on what’s known as a “tiger cruise” for the final leg of the deployment to the carrier’s new home port of San Diego. 

“We are proud to welcome the warfighters of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt to our waterfront and to historic Pearl Harbor,” Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said in a release. 

During the visit, the crew will be able to enjoy liberty in Hawaii. 

Theodore Roosevelt’s home port change is part of a three-carrier swap that also included the USS Ronald Reagan being forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, to replace the USS George Washington, which is on its way to Virginia for an overhaul. 

When the Theodore Roosevelt, which left its former home in Norfolk, Va., March 11, pulls into San Diego, it will its first arrival there in its 29-year history, the Navy said. 

On Nov. 5, defense secretary Carter flew onto the Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea to emphasize the U.S. military’s continuing presence in the region, which has come over the objections of China. 

“The American approach to the security structure for Asia is an inclusive one. I believe that discussions with China, military-to-military contact with China, and making sure that nobody does anything or has any misunderstandings, is all a critical part of the job of keeping peace and stability out here,” the Navy quoted Carter saying. “We’re not trying to make divisions. We want China to be part of the security system of Asia; not to stand apart from it.” 

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