NAVY WIRE SERVICE (NWS) - 7 December 1998 - This transmission contains 7 stories. NWS7dec-1. USS Abraham Lincoln Battle Group returns from deployment NWS7dec-2. Ships return to Hampton Roads from deployment NWS7dec-3. USS Essex ARG heads home -USN- -USN- NWS7dec-1. USS Abraham Lincoln Battle Group returns from deployment by JOC Joe Staker, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs PACIFIC OCEAN (NWS) -- The Abraham Lincoln Battle Group arrives in San Diego Dec. 7 following a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf. Ships returning to their homeport in San Diego are USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Valley Forge (CG 50), USS Elliot (DD 967), USS Jarrett (FFG 33) and USS Jefferson City (SSN 759). USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), USS Camden (AOE 2), and HMCS Ottawa will continue on to their homeports in the Pacific Northwest. Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW 14) will disembark Lincoln prior to the ship's brief stop in San Diego. Capt. J. J. Quinn, Abraham Lincoln's commanding officer, praised the performance and teamwork of the battle group. "We started our work-ups just a little more than a year ago with two very diverse groups of people: 'air wing' and 'ship's company' Sailors and Marines. They all stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun as far as I'm concerned. What an awesome team!" he said. "When you consider the harsh weather conditions that produced the hottest summer ever recorded in the Arabian Gulf, you have to respect what these men and women do for their country. They are simply 'the best'." The Abraham Lincoln Battle Group deployed in early June and took up station in the Arabian Gulf region in late July. The battle group traveled more than 30,000 miles throughout the course of the deployment. Battle force units conducted operations in the Arabian Sea, participated in multinational interception operations in the Arabian Gulf, flew thousands of missions in support of Operation Southern Watch and visited several overseas ports including Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Jebel Ali, Bahrain, and several ports in Australia. ncoln today. -USN- -USN- -USN- NWS7dec-2. Ships return to Hampton Roads from deployment by COMSECONDFLT Public Affairs NORFOLK (NWS) -- The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group and the USS Saipan Amphibious Ready Group will return to their East Coast homeports and bases Dec. 9 and 10. The ships and squadrons have spent the last six months operating in the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Other returning ships include USS Austin (LPD 4) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46). During the deployment, Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and other battle group units participated in Operation Deliberate Forge in the Adriatic Sea, adding the carrier's formidable air wing to NATO's air presence over Kosovo. In October, the carrier sailed through the Suez Canal, and arrived in the Arabian Gulf to enforce the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. Battle group and amphibious ready group ships also participated in a number of exercises with allied Sailors and Marines, and visited ports from Spain to the United Arab Emirates. "This cruise ranks with the all-time great cruises I've experienced," said Capt. H. Denby Starling II, the aircraft carrier's commanding officer. "We had some of the best liberty ports a ship can have throughout most of the deployment. We sailed in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, and passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. We were ready to apply all of our training when it became necessary to do so when we arrived in the Arabian Gulf. We had both extremes of the spectrum and I wouldn't have traded any of it. "I've sailed on many ships for many years, and I still feel like an 18-year-old every time an aircraft leaves the deck. What we do is exhilarating, and the capable men and women on Ike make it look so easy," concluded Starling. -USN- -USN- -USN- NWS7dec-3. USS Essex ARG heads home by JO1 David Myers, USS Essex Public Affairs ARABIAN GULF (NWS) -- The USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is on its way home from the Arabian Gulf, following a turnover with the USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) ARG. Essex (LHD 2), USS Anchorage (LSD 36) and USS Duluth (LPD 6) left San Diego for a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf on June 22. They entered the Arabian Gulf on Aug. 17 with 1,800 Sailors and 2,100 Marines. Units of the Essex ARG participated in several training exercises during the deployment. Duluth participated in Exercise Red Reef on the Arabian Peninsula with Gulf partners. The embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) sent a military survey and liaison team ashore for non-combatant evacuation operations training with Kuwait, Oman and United Arab Emirates Embassies. In the North Arabian Sea, the Essex ARG conducted Maritime Intercept Operations in support of the United Nations imposed trade sanctions against Iraq. The MEU also conducted readiness training in Kuwait. Though not primarily an air-intercept platform, Essex supported Operation Southern Watch with the MEU's AV-8B Harrier jets, helping enforce the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. The Essex ARG is scheduled to return to San Diego before the holiday season. -USN- -USN- -USN- -USN-