Story by MC3 Dugan Flynn
Photo by MC2 Kyle Steckler

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) departed Bremerton today for a seven-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

The ship got underway after family and friends bade farewell in the morning followed by brief remarks and questions-and-answers with regional media with Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3, Rear Adm. Craig Faller and Stennis Commanding Officer, Capt. Ron Reis.

“This carrier has 5,000 Sailors aboard, and today we welcome the families on board to share that special moment before we head underway and do our nation’s bidding,” said Reis. “The families are the core support to ensure that the Sailors are cared for while they’re underway. Like all services, being separated from your families is extremely difficult, but the United States Navy has dealt with that since its conception and we have done it better than any other service.”

Family and friends were allowed aboard to take pictures in the hangar bay and spend last moments with loved ones before deployment.

“I have a husband in the Navy; we’ve been married for a year and a half and have a ten month old who came aboard to say goodbye,” said Master at Arms 2nd Class (EXW) Sara Coyne. “It was really hard, but at least my husband is on shore duty so at least he’s there to take care of the baby.”

During this deployment, Stennis will foster diplomatic relationships with partner nations in the region.

“Wherever we go, wherever we sail, we’re not just passing through,” said Faller. “We’re training and working with friends and allies. Perhaps even pulling into a port and doing community relations projects. Wherever we go, we will be engaged.”

While interacting with partner nations, many Sailors will have the opportunity to have new experiences they’ve never had before.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing different countries,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Justin McQuillin. “I want to try different foods and experience new cultures.”

Stennis will be joined by Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), providing air support to the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and maritime security, ensuring freedom of navigation and regional stability.

“We are a nation at war,” said Faller. “That war is going on as we speak in Afghanistan. We will be joining that fight, and supporting those operations. Also, we are still involved and engaged in Iraq. We expect to be involved and supporting those operations as well.”

During the seven-month deployment the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is prepared to respond to any operational situation with flexible and sustainable force on short notice in order to protect America’s vital interests across the globe.