PHOTOS: USS Nimitz returns to Washington state after nearly a year away

BREMERTON, Wash. – The USS Nimitz returned to Washington state on Sunday after its sailors spent nearly a year away from home.

The 100,000-ton aircraft carrier logged nearly 100,000 miles on deployment since it left Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton last April, right as the pandemic was first affecting the world.

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Photographers captured the USS Nimitz’s return home, ” … 341 days after sailors left their homes and families for a marathon of quarantines, training and a deployment to the Middle East and Pacific,” the US Navy said in a news release.

The Navy says thousands of sailors quarantined aboard the ship April 1-27, then left Washington state to begin pre-deployment training and certification activities off California.

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The deployment formally began June 8; the carrier crew was deployed eight months and 28 days, and away from home for 11 months and seven days, the Navy said.

“It has been a long 11 months since we bid farewell to our homeport in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and it feels great to be back,” said Capt. Max Clark, Nimitz commanding officer. “I am so proud of the Sailors on board Nimitz. The hard work, dedication, and teamwork they demonstrated day in and day out to accomplish all missions assigned is commendable.”

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The nuclear warship completed a NATO security mission in Afghanistan and counter-air missions against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Sailors also participated in exercises with forces from other nations, allies like India, Japan and Australia.

Some Nimitz sailors departed the ship on March 4 during a stop on Indian Island, Washington. The rest of the sailors departed the ship and returned home on March 7, when the carrier pulled into Naval Base Kitsap.

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Check out the photo gallery above to see crew members manning the rails, then embracing family members on land.

The Nimitz now goes into maintenance.