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Photos: USS Ford returns to Norfolk after extended deployment

The USS Gerald Ford returned to Norfolk after an extended deployment. (Photo by Zach D. Roberts)
The USS Gerald Ford returned to Norfolk after an extended deployment. (Photo by Zach D. Roberts)

 The USS Ford carrier group started arriving home over the weekend, as air units flew in.

On Wednesday, the ship arrived from the eastern Mediterranean on the coldest day of the winter.

The crew of roughly 4,000 will have two weeks leave before beginning exercises for their next deployment.

All phots by Zach D. Roberts

The Ford carrier group deployed last May, its first deployment after a multi-billion dollar maintenance cycle at Huntington Ingalls in Newport News.

The group was supposed to come back in the fall, but its deployment was indefinitely extended as it provided support in the Mediterranean after war broke out between Hamas and Israel.

The Ford group was close to setting a post-pandemic deployment record as its first deployment passed eight months.

“Six months is kind of the number people gravitate to for a deployment,” said Cordle, a retired Navy captain who works as a civilian for Commander, Naval Surface Force, Atlantic Fleet. “That's kind of a digestible number for the crew, for the families, and kind of gives you a sort of a balance between being home and being gone.”

The Ford’s return means the USS Eisenhower is the only U.S. carrier in the Middle East.

“Certainly, that creates a pressurized environment to advance the training certifications of follow-on units,” said Rear Adml. Douglas Perry of the 2nd Fleet.

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