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John F. Kennedy Strike Group MED 02 Deployment
CV 67 John F. Kennedy
"Big John"

The USS John F. Kennedy battle group successfully completed the intermediate level, Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) at the Puerto Rican Operating Areas, Sat., Oct. 13, 2001. COMPTUEX is an exercise designed to combine the many elements of a U.S. Navy battle group into a cohesive fighting force in preparation for overseas deployment. Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7) and the Kennedy qualified for blue water or open-ocean certification, demonstrating the ability to launch and recover aircraft without shore-based support during the exercise. The exercise began shortly after getting underway Sept. 11 and included naval surface fire support (NSFS), ship-to-shore gunnery training and air-to-ground bombing using inert ordnance. Kennedy Battle Group became the first battle group to employ the Navy's cooperative engagement capability (CEC) during COMPTUEX and will be the first to deploy with it.

In addition to exercises in Vieques, the ten U.S. warships assigned to the battle group engaged in traditional surface warfare and underwater training exercises at-sea. The Battle Group consists of the aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67); the guided missile cruisers; USS Hue City (CG 66) and USS Vicksburg (CG 69); the guided missile destroyers; USS Carney (DDG 64), USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80); the destroyer, USS Spruance (DD 963); the guided missile frigates USS Underwood (FFG 36) and USS Taylor (FFG 50); the oiler, USS Seattle (AOE 3); and two Los Angeles class attack submarines; USS Toledo (SSN 769) and USS Boise (SSN 764).

In mid-December 2001 it was announced that the Kennedy battle group had been ordered to deploy in in mid-January 2002 -- two months earlier than planned -- to sustain two carriers in the Arabian Gulf region. The Kennedy was scheduled to relieve the Roosevelt battle group. The Kennedy battle group, consisting of twelve ships, was scheduled to deploy on 19 January 2002 to Puerto Rico for pre-deployment training and evaluation. Thereafter, the carrier and five of its escorts were slated to deploy to the Indian Ocean to join Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 10,000 Sailors of the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Battle Group (CVBG) participated in Phase II of Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 02-1, Feb. 7 through 14, 2002. Phase I of the exercise was completed Jan. 19-26. The JTFEX was designed to meet the requirement for quality, realistic training to prepare U.S. forces for joint and combined operations and also provides the opportunity to certify the CVBG for deployment. This particular JTFEX was scheduled for two phases to accommodate recent repairs to the carrier, which required it to be pierside during Phase I. The exercise took place in the waters off the East Coast, as well as on training ranges in North Carolina and Florida.

On 16 February 2002 ships and squadrons of the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Carrier Battle Group successfully completed the second phase of Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 02-1, earning certification to deploy. JTFEX provides realistic training to prepare U.S. forces for joint and combined operations. Satisfactory completion of the exercise certifies the Kennedy Battle Group for deployment. JTFEX 02-1 was conducted in two phases to accommodate pier-side repairs to the carrier during the first phase of the exercise. The exercise took place off the U.S. East Coast, and at training ranges in North Carolina and Florida.

Joining the Mayport, Fla.-based Kennedy for immediate departure were Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW 7) out of Oceana, Va.; Mayport-based ships USS Hue City (CG 66), USS Vicksburg (CG 69), USS The Sullivans (DDG 68); and the Norfolk-based fast combat support ship USS Seattle (AOE 3). The remaining ships of the Kennedy Battle Group, all Mayport-based, were to deploy later in the spring. They are: USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USS Spruance (DD 963), USS Underwood (FFG 36) and USS Taylor (FFG 50). Two attack submarines are also members of the Kennedy Battle Group: USS Toledo (SSN 769), home ported in Groton, Conn., and the Norfolk-based USS Boise (SSN 764). The Navy does not discuss the movements of its submarines.

Kennedy assumed the watch in the North Arabian Sea from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on 07 March 2002.

Just after midnight on 11 March 2002, Kennedy launched the first combat sortie from its deck in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Speaking to the crew, Carrier Air Wing SEVEN and Carrier Group SIX shortly before the first launch, Kennedy Commanding Officer, Capt. Ronald H. Henderson, Jr., implored everyone aboard to, "Stay sharp, stay focused and stay safe. Use the training that has made you the best Sailors in the world." He said, "Naval power has been the principal weapon of our resolve, it is now our turn to strike for justice." With the first launch, Kennedy became the sixth aircraft carrier to participate in combat missions in the war against terrorism. Currently the nighttime operations platform, Kennedy joins USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to provide a two-carrier presence and sustain round-the-clock combat operations over Afghanistan.

During Operation Enduring Freedom, the aircraft from the Kennedy Battle Group delivered more than 64,000 pounds of ordnance on Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. Carrier Air Wing Seven aircraft flew a total of 2,599 day and night missions in support of Coalition Forces over Afghanistan. In addition to Kennedy's conventional war-fighting role, the flagship also served as a command and control platform for Maritime Interception (MIO) and Leadership Interdiction Operations (LIO).

Throughout the course of the deployment, Kennedy safely navigated 160 days at sea covering 69,050 miles of water and completed more than 9,100 aircraft traps/recoveries.

The USS John F. Kennedy Aircraft Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) returned to their East Coast homeports and bases in mid August 2002. The homecoming occurs after a six-month combat deployment in the Arabian Gulf, in addition to operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

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