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Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group MED 07 Deployment
IKEBATGRU
CVN-69 Dwight D. Eisenhower
"IKE"

In September 2006 it was reported that the Eisenhower Strike Group was under orders to depart the United States in early October 2006, slated to arrive in the Persian Gulf on or aabout 21 October 2006. Some observers were alarmed that this was part of the Bush Administration's plans to attack Iran's WMD facilities immediately prior to the November 7th Congressional election. This seemed improbable. In recent years the Navy had normally stationed one carrier in the Persian Gulf to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The IKE replaced the Abraham Lincoln in this role.

After spending 44 months in Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard for a major mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) successfully completed Crew Certification Phase II Nov. 16, 2004 and was then certified ready for sea. The crew was inspected by Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMNAVAIRLANT) and Afloat Training Group (ATG) staff. The goal of the certitication was simple: to determine and report Ike's fitness, readiness and material conditions that might limit her capability to carry out assigned missions. The findings of these inspections are invaluable to determine the occupational safety and health status of the ship. Crew certification is a three-stage process. The final stage, Phase II, was the process by which the Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC), COMNAVAIRLANT, ensured the ship is combat ready to proceed safely to sea with a trained and qualified crew.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) simulated an underway replenishment (UNREP) on March 18, 2005, with the Military Sealift Command ship USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189) while pierside at Naval Station Norfolk. The last time Ike had performed a real-life UNREP had been in 2000, shortly before the ship's mid-life Refueling Complex Overhaul began at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (CVN 69) returned to Naval Station Norfolk, VA, 09 May 2005 after completing her shakedown underway period - 10 days at sea where the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier took another step toward becoming combat ready. This was the fourth time Ike has been underway since completing her four-year, mid-life overhaul. The primary purpose of this underway was to give Ike's chain of command the opportunity to evaluate the readiness of the ship. The carrier went out with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 and exercised the ship and the air wing and all the different departments of the ship, and we see what works and what doesn't. During her shakedown underway period, Ike completed two connected replenishments (CONREP) with USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201). Ike's crew successfully completed various shipwide damage control drills, which encompassed every aspect of the ship, ranging from Ike's medical department to the bridge team, to CVW-7. Weapons department built and delivered inert ordnance to CVW-7 Sailors on the flight deck, and Ike commenced cyclic flight operations for the first time in more than four years.

Ike entered her Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) in summer of 2005, where remaining work was completed. Following that, the warship began the process of becoming surge ready. IKE finished a four-month Post Shakedown Availability and Selected Restriced Availability in October 2005. IKE was training for an anticipated deployment in 2006 and received Blue Water Certification on May 6, 2006.

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group successfully completed its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) 08 May 2006. COMPTUEX is an intermediate-level strike group training exercise. It typically represents the first time in a training cycle that a carrier strike group operates together as a cohesive team and is a critical step toward the final certification to deploy overseas. With that COMPTUEX is completed, the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group continued to train for future deployment.

More than 16,000 service members from five countries participated in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 06-2 "Operation Bold Step," 21-31 July 2006. Operation Bold Step present US, interagency, and coalition forces with realistic and dynamic exercise threats that closely replicate operational challenges military forces routinely encounter around the world. It was designed to provide quality, realistic, dynamic training environments to prepare US forces for joint, interagency, and combined operations, and sustainment training for units that recently returned from deployment.

JTFEX 06-2 served as the forward-certifying event for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group, and sustainment training for units from the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Strike Group and USS Bataan (LHD 5) Expeditionary Strike Group. JTFEX 06-2 also served as a significant training milestone toward US 2nd Fleet's staff certification as a Joint Task Force (JTF) headquarters, planned for 2007.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) completed the eight-day Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 06-2 "Operation Bold Step," 28 July 2006, off the East Coast, testing the CSG's ability to operate alongside other U.S. forces and coalition partners in a complex, hostile environment.

On 03 October 2006 Eisenhower left Naval Station Norfolk as part of a regularly scheduled deployment in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. Nearly 6,500 Sailors deployed from Naval Station Norfolk with the Eisenhower CSG in support of the ongoing rotation of forward-deployed forces. Fast-attack submarines USS Minneapolis St. Paul (SSN 708) and USS Newport News (SSN 750) prepared to get underway for a scheduled six-month deployment as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Joe R. Campa, Jr. visited Sailors underway in the Fifth Fleet Area of Operations (AOR) 21 December 2006 to bring holiday greetings and to thank the Sailors for the sacrifices they were making. Their stops in the Persian Gulf included the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), and the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68), before continuing on to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). One of the CNO's main objectives was to let Sailors know their efforts were appreciated.

Nearly 6,000 Sailors from Eisenhower (Ike) Carrier Strike Group's (CSG) ships and aircraft squadrons returned home 23 May 2007 after successfully completing an extended deployment of almost eight months. Eisenhower CSG deployed 03 October 2006 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) and in support of maritime security operations (MSO) in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 flew approximately 12,000 sorties and has put in more than 31,400 flight hours since deployment began, providing air support for multinational coalition forces on the ground in support of various operations in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command AOR. The Wing supported joint coalition forces both in Iraq and Afghanistan, not only with kinetic effects, such as precision guided weapons and 20 mm cannon fire, but also with essential non-kinetic support through show of force and the work of the EA-6B, helicopter and E-2C squadrons.

The guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68) supported MSO throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. Anzio participated in 32 compliant boardings, demonstrating our nation's commitment to maintaining international sea lines of communications open to all mariners, free from the threats of piracy, smugglers and terrorists. Anzio's boarding teams provided both local fishermen and merchants with fuel, food and medical care to ensure their safety and spread a sense of cooperation to fellow mariners.

While deployed to the Central Command AOR working for Combined Task Forces 150 and 152, the guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG 61) participated in multiple pulse operations across the AOR. These pulse operations focused on building a comprehensive recognized maritime picture in support of national and coalition tasking in numerous regions, to include the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Horn of Africa. Ramage conducted more than 40 approach and assist visits, three boardings, more than 100 maritime-awareness calls and 13 coordinated maritime-awareness calls.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) successfully executed Exercise Neon Falcon, a bilateral exercise between the United States and Royal Bahraini navies. The exercise was a vital step toward the chief of Naval Operation's goal of an international "1,000-ship navy." Additionally, Mason, USS Whirlwind (PC 11), and Bahraini ships participated in extensive in-port and at-sea exercises designed to flex the warfighting capabilities of both navies.

A critical part in supporting sustained operations were underway replenishments (UNREP). From bringing to the ship everything from jet parts to food to fuel, an UNREP is essential. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) completed 36 UNREPs, taking on more than 8,000 pallets of supplies and approximately 21,000,000 gallons of JP-5.

Boosting morale and keeping Ike Sailors in touch with their loved ones, the ship's post office and mail are very important to Ike and her mission. During deployment, Ike's postal clerks brought on more than 300,000 pounds of mail. Another division tasked with keeping the lines of communication open is Combat Systems, CS-3 Division. Since deployment began, there were approximately 6,800,000 e-mails sent off the ship and approximately 7,300,000 e-mails sent to the ship.

Sailors had many opportunities to stay in touch with their loved ones at home, including use of the United Through Reading (UTR) program, which was established to provide a way for Sailors to comfort their children during an extended absence, such as deployment. Ike broke the record set by the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) for the most participation in UTR, producing a record number of 2,066 messages during a single cruise. Food Service Division also played a big part in keeping the crew happy. In eight months, Ike Sailors have gone through 45,780 gallons of milk, 633,120 eggs, 155,189 pounds of ground beef and 238,970 pounds of chicken. Food Service Division served a total of 3,190,211 meals to the crew.

Eisenhower CSG includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, with its embarked air wing, CVW-7, and embarked Destroyer Squadron 28; the guided-missile cruiser Anzio; guided-missile destroyers Ramage and Mason, all homeported in Norfolk. CVW-7 included Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 "Tigertails," Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103 "Jolly Rogers," VFA-131 "Wildcats," VFA-143 "Pukin' Dogs," VFA-83 "Rampagers," Electronic Attack Squadron 140 "Patriots," Helicopter Anti-submarine 5 "Nightdippers," and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 "Rawhides." CVW-7 squadrons returned to Norfolk on May 21 and 22, 2007.

Chronology

    30 Oct 2006 - Entered Red Sea
    29 Jul 2006 - Returned to Norfolk
    21-28 Jul 2006 - JTFEX 06-02
    13 Jun 2006 - Atlantic Ocean
    08 May 2006 - Completed COMPTUEX
    06 May 2006 - Received Blue Water Certification
    October 2005 - Finished Post Shakedown Availibility and Selected Restricted Availibility
    Summer 2005 - Post Shakedown Availability (PSA)
    2 Jun 2005 - Atlantic Ocean
    09 May 2005 - Shakedown Underway complete
    ~30 Apr 2005 - Shakedown underway period
    05 April 2005 - Flight deck certification
    25 Mar 2005 - Redelivered to the fleet



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