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3 San Diego-based warships leave on deployment

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Three San Diego-based ships and some local air units left on deployment Monday, joining the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The guided-missile destroyers USS Howard and USS Pinckney, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, departed from Naval Base San Diego.

San Diego-based air units heading out with the ships included 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.

The Nimitz, and guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Shoup, left their bases in Washington state Thursday and pulled into San Diego to join up with the other vessels.

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.

The Howard is named for Marine Corps First Sergeant Jimmie Howard, who served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, earning a Medal of Honor in 1967. He eventually settled in San Diego.

The Pinckney is named for Navy Cook First Class William Pinckney, who received a Navy Cross for rescuing a fellow sailor when the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise was damaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz near Guadalcanal in World War II.

The Princeton is the sixth Navy vessel to honor a 1777 Revolutionary War victory in New Jersey led by future President George Washington.