Kitty Hawk Strike Group 99-02 Underways
CVA / CV-63 Kitty Hawk
"HAWK" / "The Battle Cat"
An important issue to keep in mind is that as the Kitty Hawk is the only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the fleet, that its deployments are not typical of what one might expect from a MED or WESTPAC deployment by CONUS based carrier. The Kitty Hawk tends to leave port for a few weeks and take part in various activities in the Pacific region. The Kitty Hawk will rarely make a deployment to the Gulf and does so usually under extreme circumstances.
The Hawk set sail for a planned three-month deployment March 2, 1999, that included Exercise Tandem Thrust off Guam. Following the exercise, the Hawk/FIVE team was ordered to the Arabian Gulf to enforce the No-Fly Zone over Southern Iraq. CVW-5 pilots flew over 8,800 sorties in 116 days, including 1,300 combat sorties, dropping more than 20 tons of ordnance.
On the return trip to Japan, Kitty Hawk made port visits to Perth, Australia, and Pattaya, Thailand. Hawk returned to Yokosuka Aug. 25, 1999. She then deployed to the Sea of Japan Oct. 22 to participate in Exercises FOAL EAGLE and ANNUALEX 11G.
On April 11, 2000, Hawk departed Yokosuka, Japan for routine local area operations and to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold with the navies of Singapore and Thailand. USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS O'Brien (DD 975) also got underway to form the rest of Kitty Hawk's Battle Group. Shortly after leaving Yokosuka, the 86,000-ton warship underwent a large-scale Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART). Afloat Training Group (ATG) Western Pacific and ATG San Diego embarked the ship to evaluate the crew while operating near Guam. Through simulations and drills, the ship's damage control, combat systems, aviation, seamanship, engineering and medical areas were evaluated during the assessment. The skills of the Kitty Hawk team were more than evaluated during the underway period. They were put into use during Exercise Cobra Gold 2000, an annual joint exercise between the U.S., Thailand, and Singapore from May 9-23. One of the largest Far East exercises of the year, Cobra Gold was a major reason for Kitty Hawk's deployment.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), USS O'Brien (DD 975) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) returned to Yokosuka 05 June 2000 after a routine spring deployment. While traveling a total of 19,440 nautical miles during this underway period, the 4,800 Sailors of Kitty Hawk and Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) maintained an ambitious underway schedule, conducting 3,146 aircraft landings on the carrier's flight deck, demonstrating their abilities for various inspection teams, and exercising with the militaries of Thailand and Singapore.
USS Kitty Hawk departed Yokosuka 26 September 2000 and was soon joined by Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) to ramp up for Exercise Foal Eagle, Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 12G and Exercise Keen Sword. Several other Navy units participated in the exercises, including the staffs of Battle Force Seventh Fleet and Destroyer Squadron 15, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Vincennes (CG 64), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), USS Gary (FFG 51), USS Cushing (DD 985), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Honolulu (SSN 718), USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USNS Pecos (T-AO 197), USNS Kiska (T-AE 35) and USNS Victorious (T-AGOS 19).
USS Kitty Hawk and Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW5) and other U.S. Navy ships officially commenced operations in the 39th annual Foal Eagle exercise 24 October 2000 in the Sea of Japan. Foal Eagle is an annual exercise designed to provide training for U.S. forces and improve interoperability with South Korea. During the exercise, which ran through 01 November, approximately 25,000 U.S. forces personnel trained with their Republic of Korea allies, testing rear area protection and major command, control and communications systems. The exercise provides an opportunity for the (Kitty Hawk) battlegroup to operate with other forces in the Western Pacific region. The exercise began with a simulated attack that sank a US warship. In response, the U.S. Seventh Fleet deployed units and forces around and inside the Korean peninsula. The units include Kitty Hawk and CVW5, USS John McCain (DDG 56), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Vincennes (CG 49), and the attack submarines USS Kamehameha (SSN 642) and USS Honolulu (SSN 718), amphibious units operating off the west coast of Korea and several South Korean surface and subsurface units. There were also Marine, Army and Air Force units on the Korean shore, but these units were not all working together. From day to day, depending on the exercise events, some units played the "good guys" while others played the aggressors.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), embarked Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5), and the ships underway in the carrier battle group joined elements of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) 10 November 2000 to mark the beginning of Hawk's participation in Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 12G. Other US ships participating in ANNUALEX include Chancellorsville, USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Gary (FFG 51), USS Cushing (DD 985), USS John S. MaCain (DDG 56), USS Honolulu (SSN 718), USNS Rappahannok (TAO 204) and USNS Victorious (T-AGOS 19). Approximately 8,000 personnel from the US participated in the yearly exercise, which focuses on improving the military-to-military relationship between the US and Japan. ANNUALEX 12G, which continued through 17 November 2000 in the waters around Japan, combined air, undersea and surface warfare components to enhance bilateral U.S. and Japan skills that would be required to jointly defend Japan against outside aggression.
Following a brisk pace of underway operations that included three exercises and two port visits in 55 days, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) returned to Yokosuka, Japan, 20 November 2000, completing its regularly scheduled fall deployment.
The USS Kitty Hawk left Yokosuka on Sept. 30th. It departed with only a portion of its Carrier Air Wing (CVW 5) and instead deployed to support helicopters used to support Army special operations units. The ships in the Kitty Hawk Battle Group include the USS Vincennes (CG 49), the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), the USS Cushing (DD 985), the USS Gary (FFG 51), and the USS Rappahanock (T-AO 204) and the submarine USS Bremerton (SSN 698).
The USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group participated in Enduring Freedom, though it did not have its full Carrier Air Wing and carried an unspecified number of helicopters that are being used for Special Operations. Reportedly the Kitty Hawk carried a total of eight F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18C/D strike aircraft, which eventually flew about 100 strike missions. Over 1,000 Special Operations Forces personnel were on the carrier, including the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Navy SEALS, and Air Force Special Operations forces. Aircraft included a dozen special operations MH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, a half-dozen MH-47 Chinook medium-lift helicopters and several MH-53 Pave Low helicopters. The Kitty Hawk reportedly departed the north Arabian Sea for its home port in Japan on or about 08 December 2001. She returned to port on Dec 23.
World events changed some of the 7 th Fleet's operational commitments and allowed USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) to spend the summer of 2002 in port and receive additional work. The amount and scope of that work was unexpected. Previous forward-deployed carriers received about 60,000 man-days of effort. This time, Kitty Hawk started her availability in excess of 70,000 man-days and by the end of September 2002 the number of man-days expended had already exceeded 95,000. This was been a strain on all involved, the ships, SRF and even the contractors. The final result of this impressive undertaking was that Kitty Hawk was better equipped to fulfill her mission, and her crew can operate equipment in safety and with confidence. Since returning from an underway period in June 2002, the engineering department worked extended hours and recently wrapped up a more than weeklong "port and starboard" duty section with half of the department working throughout each night. All of this in order to keep the Navy's most-seasoned steam powered ship prepared to steam for years into the future.
USS Kitty Hawk's (CV 63) Selective Restricted Availability (SRA) period came to an end in late September 2002. Kitty Hawk Sailors reclaimed their home through a new command program. The program is based on the simple philosophy that one takes more pride in property that one owns than that which one borrows or rents. For more than three months, Ship Repair Facility (SRF) workers had been on board Kitty Hawk repairing and maintaining America's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. As Kitty Hawk prepared to return to sea for training, its crew returned the shine to the spaces affected by SRF work. The months of labor during SRA limited the crew's access to some areas of the ship and prevented Sailors from maintaining Kitty Hawk's high cleanliness standards. Kitty Hawk's leadership started the ownership program to ensure that every space on the ship is "owned" and taken care of with pride by a Sailor. That Sailor is responsible for the space's cleanliness and upkeep with the help and guidance of their chain of command. A new slogan, "own a piece of the Kitty Hawk," was circulating through the crew.
USS Kitty Hawk left Yokosuka on Oct. 15, 2002 after a four-month inport period. In port since June 5, the carrier will conduct routine operations while at sea. The USS Kitty Hawk headed to sea for the first time under its new captain, leaving Yokosuka for a crucial period of under way readiness tests. The 41-year-old carrier, which saw a major upheaval in command just over a month earlier, had fallen into disrepair and was not sea-ready, Navy officials said in September.
Fall 2002 Underway Period
On October 25, 2002 the USS Kitty Hawk and its battle group departed Japan for a deployment period. Its schedule, though initially unclear, appears to consist of exercises off of Japan until mid-November at which point it would be available for other assignments. As of early November it is unclear whether or not the Hawk will be sent to Southwest Asia.
In preparation for this at-sea period, the Hawk/5 team completed training designed to ensure every department within Hawk is 100 percent ready to contribute to the ship's mission. Personnel from Afloat Training Group Western Pacific and Naval Air Forces Pacific assessed the effectiveness of that training, during a four-day sea trials period conducted Oct 15-18.
Sea trials resulted in COMNAVAIRPAC certifications of the ship's flight deck, air traffic controllers, and the engineering plant fuel systems. Sea trials also resulted in positive feedback from ATG on the crew's ability to train itself, according to Lt. Cmdr. David Scott, Kitty Hawk training officer. As Hawk completed a major replenishment of ordnance during her first day at sea with USNS Flint (T-AE 32), the crew shifted its focus to the training opportunities that lie ahead.
On November 11-22 the Kitty Hawk Battle Group and other shps from 7th Fleet and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force took park in an exercise called ANNUALEX 14G, designed to improve both naval forces' capabilaity for coordinated and bilateral operations in the defense of Japan. In particular, ANNUALEX 14G is focusing on enhancing military-to-military relationships, improving command and control as well as air, undersea and surface warfare. It has been reported that during this exercise, the Kitty Hawk Battle Group passed through the Taiwan Straits conducting carrier operations.
Articles from both the South China Morning Post and the Associated Press dated November 19 and November 18, 2002, respectively, report that the USS Kitty Hawk and elements of her Battle Group will make a port call at Hong Kong on November 29 through December 3, at which point it is believed that she will depart for the Persian Gulf. An Associated Press story, dated November 22, reports that the USS Rainier, currently attached to the Constellation Battle Group will remain in Hong Kong following the departure of the Connie, and will depart with the Kitty Hawk on December 3. The Kitty Hawk made the port call accompanied by the USS Curtis Wilbur and the O'Brien.
USS Kitty Hawk returned to its port of Yokosuka, Japan, Dec. 13 after seven weeks of mission-oriented training.
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