San Diego, California - Just in time for the holidays, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) returned to Naval Base San Diego, Sunday, following a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf.

Lake Erie left her homeport of San Diego in May on an independent deployment with an embarked detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49.

The ship and her crew sailed more than 40,000 miles during the deployment. Sailors provided humanitarian assistance in Colombo, Sri Lanka, after severe flooding and landslides devastated many regions of the country and left 10,000 homeless. The crew also provided support to Operation Inherent Resolve in the Arabian Gulf and conducted training and operations with foreign navies including the Royal Australian Navy.

"It's great to be back home and reunite with our loved ones after a very successful seven-month deployment to 5th and 7th fleets," said Capt. Darren McPherson, the commanding officer aboard Lake Erie. "I'm proud that our Sailors made a difference not only in maintaining American security with our presence abroad, but also made a positive difference in countless people's lives ashore due to our work in Sri Lanka. The men and women of Lake Erie are truly great Americans and I am proud to serve with every single one of them."

Throughout her deployment, Lake Erie carried out two transits of the Strait of Malacca, 13 escorts of USNS and U.S.-flagged cargo and support vessels through the Strait of Hormuz; executed more than 20 restricted water navigation details and conducted more than 20 underway replenishments, safely receiving over four million gallons of diesel fuel and 89,000 gallons of jet propulsion fuel with zero mishaps. Lake Erie also performed a national tasking in the vicinity of the Philippines as part of a joint task force.

Lake Erie visited various ports during deployment, including Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Guam; Hamad, Qatar; Manama, Bahrain; Pearl Harbor; Singapore; and Subic Bay, Philippines. Sailors participated in numerous volunteer events, including interacting with children at schools, visiting patients at hospitals and socializing with animals at shelters.

During deployment, 116 Sailors qualified as Enlisted Air Warfare Specialists, 84 Sailors qualified as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists, 113 Sailors advanced to the next rank, 32 Sailors reenlisted, and 40 Sailors enrolled in college classes. Crew members earned more than 150 awards including six Sailors whom received Army Achievement Medals for their bravery during a medical evacuation.

Lake Erie is part of Nimitz Strike Group and operates under U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.