The San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is scheduled to pull into Pearl Harbor Wednesday after a five-month deployment during which it and the carrier USS Ronald Reagan conducted rare joint training in the Sea of Japan in a massive show of force aimed at North Korea.
The USS Nimitz carrier strike group, meanwhile, left San Diego June 5 and is on its way to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Following a slew of North Korean ballistic missile tests, Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command on Oahu, ordered the Vinson strike group to forgo a visit to Australia and sail north in early April after it departed Singapore.
At the time, top Trump administration officials implied the ships were racing for the Korean Peninsula when they were actually heading to the Indian Ocean for an exercise. Harris later accepted blame for miscommunication over the location of the strike group.
The Vinson strike group arrived at the end of April and spent the next month off South Korea, conducting the joint exercise with the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group at the end of May and beginning of June.
The Japan News reported the U.S.-Japan exercise was “unprecedented in size,” with the U.S. carriers Reagan and Vinson sailing with Japan’s Hyuga helicopter carrier and followed by eight U.S. warships and a Japanese destroyer.
The Vinson stopped in Guam, Busan in South Korea and Singapore, the Navy said.
One of the ships in the Vinson strike group, the Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS Michael Murphy, will return to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Tuesday after a five-month deployment, the Navy said.
“I am incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication the crew exhibited during this deployment with the Carl Vinson strike group,” Cmdr. Robert A. Heely Jr., Michael Murphy’s commanding officer, said in a release. “They were resilient and always up to the task.”
Michael Murphy began the deployment by conducting training as part of the Carl Vinson carrier strike group off the coast of Hawaii to improve readiness, the Navy said.
The Navy said the Michael Murphy conducted an 18-day joint mission with the U.S. Coast Guard in the Central and South Pacific under the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative to combat transnational crimes, enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security. Following that mission, Michael Murphy linked back up with the strike group.
“Our missions spanned from Oceania, through the South China Sea, and ended in the Sea of Japan as we strengthened our partnerships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Heely said.