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USS Nimitz to join San Diego-based ships during deployment

SAN DIEGO – The Washington state-based aircraft carrier USS Nimitz left on deployment Thursday and is scheduled to join up with three surface ships from San Diego next week, according to the Navy.

The Nimitz left Puget Sound accompanied by the guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Shoup and is scheduled to make a brief stop in San Diego.

The San Diego-based guided-missile destroyers USS Howard and USS Pinckney, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton will deploy with them on Monday, the Navy said.

San Diego-based air units heading out with the ships will include the “Death Rattlers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, Eightballers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8, Wolfpack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 75 and Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30.

This deployment is the culmination of months of intensive training and preparations,” said Rear Adm. William D. Byrne Jr., commander of Carrier Strike Group 11.

“The Nimitz Strike Group stands ready to respond to a wide variety of contingencies, be that a humanitarian disaster or a regional incident,” Byrne said. “We’re honored to be in this position to answer the nation’s call to duty.”

In a statement, the Navy stressed that the deployment was previously scheduled and is not in response to a specific incident or regional event.

A resumption of saber-rattling by North Korea has heightened tensions in Asia.

The Navy said the roughly 7,500 sailors and airmen will focus on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.