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USS Cape St. George returns to San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — The guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George returned to San Diego Friday morning from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Cape St. George’s 350 officers and the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron-78 took part in a biennial naval exercise around the Hawaiian islands known as RIMPAC — for Rim of the Pacific — and conducted community relations projects in Singapore, Guam and South Korea, according to the Navy. They also participated in two other major exercises, called Valiant Shield and Keen Sword.

“I cannot be prouder of the professionalism of my crew,” said Capt. Mike Doran, the commanding officer. “Every sailor did an outstanding job this year, especially during deployment. The ship excelled in every mission we were given because of their dedication and hard work.”

In addition to the exercises and goodwill activities, helicopters flew 780 hours in support of anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions, and tracked surface and subsurface contacts.

“Each and every one of our sailors worked together as a team to tactically employ and maintain two MH-60R helicopters in the dynamic Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said HSM-78 Detachment 4’s Officer in Charge, Lt. Cmdr. Jeremiah Ragadio.

“We executed a diverse mission set to include surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and vertical replenishments,” he said. “This deployment exemplified Blue Hawk professionalism and showcased the versatility of the HSM community’s combat capabilities.”

The 567-foot-long Cape St. George last deployed two years ago, when it passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf at a time when Iran was threatening to close the narrow shipping lane during tensions over that nation’s nuclear program.

The Cape St. George is named for a World War II battle in the South Pacific in November 1943. Navy destroyers led by Capt. Arleigh Burke sank three Japanese ships that were evacuating troops from the Solomon Islands, and heavily damaged a fourth enemy vessel.

Burke later became chief of naval operations, and a current class of U.S. destroyers bears his name.

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