NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – After its first deployment, the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group returned home to Naval Station Norfolk Saturday.

“I am honored to welcome the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group home from their inaugural deployment in the Atlantic, where they strengthened relationships with Allies and partners, exercised combined capabilities, and demonstrated our commitment in the Atlantic,” said Vice Adm. Dan Dwyer, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and Joint Force Command, Norfolk, in a news release. “This deployment brought together an incredible group of Allies and partners with one single focus – to contribute to a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Atlantic region through our combined naval power.

“Opportunities to interoperate and integrate make our nations, our navies, and the NATO Alliance stronger.”  

The carrier strike group left Norfolk Oct. 4.

The carrier strike group, which sailed more than 9,200 miles and completed more than 1,250 sorties, held trainings on air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, distributed maritime operations and transfer of authority with NATO, while working alongside Allies and partners. 

Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Finland and Sweden participated with the U.S. during this deployment. The GRFCSG also participated in exercise Silent Wolverine with seven Allied and partner nations, demonstrating high-end naval warfare and integrated NATO interoperability in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Exercise participants included Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. 

The carrier strike group also expended 78.3 tons of ordnance, integrated helicopters from Spain and Canada, completed 13 underway replenishments and hosted more than 400 distinguished visitors. 

“Leading the men and women of the Gerald R. Ford Strike Group has been awe-inspiring,” said Rear Adm. Greg Huffman, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12. “Every day these Sailors committed themselves 100% to a safe and successful inaugural deployment of Ford and the strike group. This deployment laid a strong foundation for the strike group, created momentum to carry us forward for future operations, and has prepared us to answer our nation’s call when needed.”