The USS Halsey, a Pearl Harbor-based missile destroyer, returned home Monday after a five-month deployment that saw its crew conducting operations in the Arab Gulf and South China Sea, supporting the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and rescuing Indian sailors.

On July 27, the Halsey and its crew received a distress call from an Indian merchant vessel with a crew of 15 that had drifted at sea for 48 hours in the Arabian Gulf. According to a Navy press release, the Indian ship was able to continue its voyage to shore on its own power after the Halsey responded and delivered aid.

The Halsey and its crew were deployed with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group. The Pacific-based carrier group deployed to the Arabian Gulf in June after conducting operations in the South China Sea to support the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

It was a controversial deployment as it meant that for a time the U.S. Pacific Fleet had no aircraft carriers at a time when the Pentagon says the Pacific is its top priority theater.

211004-N-MH811-1014PEARL HARBOR (Oct. 4, 2021) - Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following a 5 month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Molly Crawford)
Crew members of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following a five-month deployment. Molly Crawford/U.S. Navy/2021

President Joe Biden pledged swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, pulling out all troops except for embassy protection by early July. But when Taliban forces took the Afghan capital of Kabul and thousands of civilians crowded the airport trying to escape, Biden sent troops back to Afghanistan to assist evacuation efforts.

Planes from the carrier group provided air support during what proved to be a chaotic and bloody evacuation that left behind thousands. After wrapping up operations in support of the withdrawal the carrier group returned to the South China Sea in September amid simmering tensions between the U.S. and Chinese navies in the critical waterway.

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