The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier is returning to San Diego Friday afternoon. The ship's homeport is in Washington State.
The crew has been deployed for 321 days. This deployment length is the longest since the Vietnam War.
The carrier did nor have port calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told sailors on the USS Nimitz that he hopes to avoid long ship deployments like the more than 10 months they just spent at sea.
But as he made his first aircraft carrier visit Thursday as Pentagon chief, he acknowledged the competing demands for American warships around the globe as he wrestles with security threats from China and Iran.
The ship and its strike group have sailed about 99,000 nautical miles.
The ship’s return has triggered renewed debate over whether the U.S. should keep a persistent aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East as a deterrence to Iran.