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Nimitz Strike Group WESTPAC 07 Deployment
CVN-68 Nimitz
"Teamwork - A Tradition"

Commander, Naval Air Forces (COMNAVAIRFOR) Vice Adm. James Zortman awarded USS Nimitz (CVN 68) the Battle "E" plaque for most battle-efficient aircraft carrier in the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a ceremony 08 June 2006. The award recognizes aircraft carriers that have demonstrated superior performance and readiness in categories such as navigation, combat systems and weapons. The carrier took 11 of the 12 departmental awards given by COMNAVAIRFOR. Nimitz previously earned a Battle "E" during the 2003 grading period, making this the second award in three years.

USS Nimitz (CVN 68) crew members from all cultures and backgrounds came together during the Diversity Celebration Fair in the ship's hangar bay Oct. 23. Capt. Ted Branch, Nimitz' commanding officer, cut a cake to kick off the celebration on the aft mess deck, followed by entertainment and competition. The entertainment ranged from a traditional Mexican folk dance by Yeoman 1st Class (AW) Damaris Havens, to a performance of the African heritage anthem by Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Katrina Overton.

USS Nimitz (CVN 68) passed another milestone on the way to deployment when the crew successfully completed Tailored Ship's Training Availability [TSTA] 02 November 2006, after more than 30 days at sea. According to Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Poole, Integrated Training Team (ITT) coordinator for Nimitz, the crew was more than prepared to demonstrate their level of skill and knowledge during more than 50 general quarters (GQ) and standalone drills evaluated by Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific since the ship returned from last year's deployment. The next major step for Nimitz is the Composite Training Unit Exercise, designed to integrate the ship with the rest of its strike group.

Nimitz Completed COMPTUEX 19 December 2006. COMPTUEX is normally conducted during a two-week to three-week period six to eight weeks before JTFEX. Successfully completing the COMPTUEX certifies the carrier and its air wing as qualified for open ocean operations.

As of late 2006 the Nimitz was running about two months behind the Stennis in the schedule of pre-deployment training. Unless deployment was accelerated, Nimitz would depart some time in March 2007.

Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) deployed April 2, 2007, in support of operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Along with JCS other ships in its strike group which made the transit include the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), and the guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77). Stennis' Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 squadrons include the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, "Blue Diamonds" of VFA 146, "Argonauts" of VFA 147, "Death Rattlers" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 323, "Yellowjackets" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 138, "Golden Hawks" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, "Topcats" of Sea Control Squadron 31, "Eightballers" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 8 and "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30. Accompanying NIM is guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76). Nimitz's Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 squadrons include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14 "Tophatters," VFA-41 "Black Aces," VFA-81 "Sunliners," Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117 "Wallbangers," Marine Corps Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 232 "Red Devils," Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 135 "Black Ravens," Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 "Providers," and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6 "Indians."

She arrived in the 5th Fleet area of operations May 8 to support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)replacing the Eisenhower, which deployed 01 October 2006 with plans to remain on station into March 2007. In March, Stennis and the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group conducted a dual-carrier exercise in the Arabian Gulf. The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Groups and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group entered the Arabian Gulf 23 May 2007. While operating in the Arabian Gulf, the carriers and amphibious strike groups and their associated forces will conduct missions in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and will also perform Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) training. This marked the first time the Stennis (JCS), Nimitz (NIM) and Bonhomme Richard (BHR) strike groups had operated together in combined training while deployed to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. The ESF training demonstrates the importance of the strike groups' ability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations as part of the U.S.'s long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in the region.

After two sweltering stints and accomplished missions in the Arabian Gulf, Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 departed the gulf for the last time this deployment. Beginning 07 August 2007, Stennis was to participate in exercise Valiant Shield with two other carriers, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). U.S. Navy ships and their embarked aircraft joined a forward deployed U.S. Air Force Air Expeditionary Wing and U.S. Coast Guard units for exercise Valiant Shield 2007 in the vicinity of Guam, Aug. 6 - 13, 2007. This is the second year the United States has conducted Valiant Shield. The first Valiant Shield exercise was conducted in June 2006.

Chronology

    00 Mar 2007 - scheduled deployment
    19 Dec 2006 - Completed COMPTUEX
    02 Nov 2006 - Tailored Ship's Training Availability [TSTA] completed
    02 Sep 2006 - Preparing for TSTA



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