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George Washington Strike Group
George Washington Battle Group
CVN-73 George Washington
"Spirit of Freedom"

The US Navy announced in January 2014 that it would deploy the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to Japan in the summer of 2015 to replace USS George Washington. USS Ronald Reagan, commissioned in 2003, will be moved from San Diego to the Yokosuka Naval Base as part of the Pentagon's efforts to bolster combat readiness in the Pacific region where tensions have flared over a tiny Japanese-controlled island chain also claimed by China. The George Washington carrier will move to Norfolk, Virginia to complete a multi-year nuclear refueling and overhaul. Most of the crew of the George Washington will transfer over to USS Reagan, so there will be no mass movement of families overseas.

In late 2015 USS George Washington (CVN-73) was part of a historic three-carrier hull swap as the Navy shifted carrier homeports to accommodate the GWs refueling and complex overhaul [RCOH] at Newport News. The Navy maintained CVN capability in Japan with the arrival of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) at Yokosuka, and sustained carrier support on the West Coast when USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) made San Diego her new homeport. A mid-August 2015 crew swap, enabled two-thirds of the Yokosuka-based crew to crossover to the Reagan and remain in Japan.

Since commissioning, George Washington made three Mediterranean / Arabian Gulf deployments. During GW's maiden deployment the ship proudly served as the backdrop for the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

The U.S. Navy announced Dec. 2, 2005 that USS George Washington (CVN 73) will replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the western Pacific and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan, in 2008. The forward deployment of George Washington would not necessitate a change in the assigned air wing in Japan, nor in the composition of the air wing. Carrier Air Wing 5 will remain the forward-deployed air wing.

This rotation is part of the Navy's long-range effort to routinely replace older ships assigned to the Navy's forward-deployed naval forces with newer or more capable platforms. It is part of an ongoing effort to consider the nature of all forward deployed forces when looking at the unpredictable security environment in the western Pacific.

USS George Washington (CVN 73) Sailors gathered for a ceremony on the flight deck, 30 June 2006, to commemorate the nation's 230th, and the ship's 14th birthday. Capt. Kent Whalen, GW's executive officer, was on hand as Sailors showed their appreciation to America and reaffirmed their dedication to traditions established by our founding fathers in 1776. "Independence Day recognizes everyone, civilian and military alike, who has contributed to making the United States what it is today," said Chief Hull Technician (SW/AW) Jaymond Calmes, GW's History and Heritage Committee coordinator.

During the ceremony, Electrician's Mate 1st Class Michael McKinley read the account of the life and times of the ship's namesake, Gen. George Washington. "I'm here making sure everyone at home can sleep at night while I stand watch," said McKinley. "I'm here to make sure we can remain a free nation." "It's an honor to serve aboard this ship," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW) Edward Snyder, master of ceremonies for the event. "This is a ship named after the first president of our country, and as I was standing there listening to everyone reading, I felt this ship is a part of American history." Later in the day, a cake-cutting ceremony was held on the mess decks for all hands to bring the event to a close.

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) with its crew of approximately 5,500 Sailors departed San Diego 21 August 2008, to begin its journey to Yokosuka, Japan to replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the United States' only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. This was the first time GW gets underway with CTF 70, Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW 5) and Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15) as GW had been pier side at Naval Air Station North Island, having just completed repairs resulting from a fire at sea that took place 22 May 2008. GW is the permanent flag ship for CTF 70 while GW is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. Task Force 70 is the Carrier Strike Group component of Battle Force Seventh Fleet. In the past, the task force had been centered on the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), which headed to Bremerton, WA to decommission from Naval Service in 2009 after 48 years on active duty.

USS George Washington (CVN 73) made its historic arrival at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, 25 September 2008, as the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be permanently forward deployed outside of the United States. GW's two nuclear reactors allows it to rapidly sail great distances without ever needing to refuel and adds extensive capacity in jet fuel for its air wing. GW also has the latest upgrades to an aircraft carrier's self defense systems by adding a Cooperative Engagement Capability.

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