After more than six months of duty in the Middle East, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt Tuesday began the voyage to San Diego — its new home port, according to the Navy.
As part of the journey, the "Big Stick" this week will take part in an exercise with Japanese and Indian forces in the Bay of Bengal.
During the Middle East deployment, air squadrons aboard the Roosevelt conducted more than 1,800 combat sorties against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, racking up 10,600 flight hours for the crews.
"The entire Big Stick and Carrier Air Wing 1 team did a phenomenal job throughout this deployment," said Capt. Craig Clapperton, the Roosevelt's commanding officer.
"They exceeded every expectation, but I think the most impressive accomplishments were their lethality and effectiveness in combat operations and their impressive ability to operate at the very edge of human performance in a brutal environment with such precision day in and day out," Clapperton said.
Since most of each crew will remain at their home base, not with their ship, the Navy expects to save around $41 million in personnel transfer costs.
With the Roosevelt gone, the U.S. will experience a rare gap of two or three months without a flattop in the Middle East. The USS Harry Truman is the next aircraft carrier scheduled to go to the region, but it just recently completed exercises that certified the vessel as ready to deploy, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.
The Big Stick left its previous home port of Norfolk, Virginia, March 11.
It's the final piece of the puzzle as the Navy shifts around three flattops. The USS Ronald Reagan left San Diego after 11 years for a new home in Japan, and the USS George Washington was sent to Virginia, where its nuclear power plant will be refueled.