Sailors return from deployment in time for holidays

SAN DIEGO -- The first of two San Diego-based warships returning from deployment pulled into port Tuesday while a third is set to come back on Wednesday.

The destroyer USS Howard returned from a six-month deployment with the strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. The Nimitz and escorts based in Washington state also stopped over in San Diego.

The strike group conducted strikes against Islamic State targets in the Middle East, trained with allied navies and made numerous port visits. In October, sailors aboard the Howard rescued three Iranian mariners who reported being attacked by pirates.

The cruiser USS Princeton, which also traveled with the group, was set to return home Tuesday but will instead arrive home on Wednesday, according to the Navy. Another San Diego-based vessel in the strike group, the destroyer USS Pinckney, will return at a later time, Navy officials said.

The Howard, Pinckney and Princeton left San Diego on June 5.

Separately, the littoral combat ship USS Coronado will return to San Diego Tuesday from a nearly 18-month deployment to Southeast Asia. Ships of the LCS variety are manned by crews that rotate, allowing the vessels to remain on station for longer periods of time.

In the Coronado's case, its current set of sailors have been away since April.

While previous LCS deployments were beset by mechanical problems, Navy officials deemed the Coronado's deployment successful in significantly cutting maintenance times.