The Philippines: JCSCSG Transits Surigao Strait

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) transited the Surigao Strait, a narrow passageway between the Mindanao and Leyte islands of the Philippines, April 10.

Sailors took a brief pause during routine operations to pay tribute to the historical significance of the passage and to the Sailors who gave their lives in the defense of freedom during the battle in these waters during World War II.

During the Battle of the Surigao Strait, from Oct. 23-26, 1944, the Japanese Imperial Navy, who then occupied the central Philippines, led an assault on U.S. ships supporting the Allied invasion of Leyte Gulf. U.S. Rear Adm. Jesse B. Oldendorf, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, was tasked with stopping the Japanese attack. With the help of Allied forces, Oldendorf reduced the Japanese forces to half. The remaining Japanese battleship fleet retreated after seeing the burning wreckage of the defeated Imperial battleships.

The Battle of Surigao Strait severely weakened the Japanese fleet, allowing the Allied forces to successfully defend the ground invasion of the Philippines, setting the stage for the invasion of Okinawa.

Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) reflected on the significance of this battle by gathering on the flight deck, as it transited the historic strait.

“I wrote a poem while transiting the strait called ‘Coming Home to the Philippines,'” said Machinist’s Mate Fireman Maria Cruzclaveria, from Zambales, Philippines. “It feels refreshing to see a piece of home even though it’s just the tip of the country where I grew up. The Straits reminds me of those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom I enjoy now.”

The JCSCSG consisting of Stennis, embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, transited the Surigao Strait en route to U.S. waters after more than seven months deployed to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).

Naval Today Staff, April 12, 2013