USS Winston S. Churchill returns to homeport after 9-month deployment

USS Winston S. Churchill
Photo Courtesy of the US Navy

The U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill returned to homeport in Naval Station Norfolk on March 19, after nearly nine months deployed in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation, the U.S. Navy announced.

USS Winston S. Churchill participated in important training exercises with international partners to foster positive relationships while encouraging freedom of navigation and maritime security.

USS Winston S. Churchill, along with the embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70, traveled nearly 60,000 miles during the deployment and completed 26 strategic chokepoint transits, escorting a total of 23 vessels over 14 of those transits. She transited the Strait of Gibraltar twice, the Suez Canal twice, the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb 14 times (nine transits with escort duties), and the Strait of Hormuz 8 times (five transits with escort duties).

Winston S. Churchill participated in a 14-Day Restriction of Movement on June 22, 2020, prior to getting underway for pre-deployment exercises and training in order to combat the effect of COVID-19 on ship’s readiness. They officially deployed on Aug. 10, 2020.

USS Winston S. Churchill’s mission log:

Winston S. Churchill conducted a landmark port visit in Port Sudan, Sudan, the first U.S. Navy warship to do so in over 30 years. The visit served to build a foundation of military cooperation between the U.S. and Sudan. Additionally, Winston S. Churchill visited Souda Bay, Djibouti, and Bahrain, where they restricted to the pier.

Churchill conducted counter-smuggling operations with embarked Advanced Interdiction Team, comprised of U.S. Coast Guardsmen, U.S. Army Soldiers, and U.S. Navy Sailors. AIT boarded two stateless dhows flying no flags in international waters off the coast of Somalia in accordance with international law. A large cache of weapons was discovered while conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The weapons disposed of included thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and crew-served weapons. Other weapon components disposed of include barrels, stocks, optical scopes, and weapon systems.

uss winston s. churchill
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) seized illicit shipments of weapons and weapons components from two stateless dhows

The only U.S. warship named after a Brit, Winston S. Churchill worked with the Royal Navy HMS Trent in the Eastern Mediterranean. The cooperation demonstrates the long-standing high-end warfare capabilities of the Alliance, which will culminate in the deployment of the international Queen Elizabeth Strike Group this summer.

While in the Mediterranean, Winston S. Churchill also sailed with the Tunisian Navy, reinforcing the commitment to African Maritime security.

After disembarking HSM 70 to their homeport at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, Churchill will return to homeport in Naval Station Norfolk.