Carl Vinson Strike Group WESTPAC 14 Deployment
CVN-70 Carl Vinson
Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG 1) successfully completed Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) off the coast of Southern California 09 June 2015, marking the final step in the strike group's preparation for its upcoming deployment. JTFEX is an integrated battle force exercise designed to test the capabilities of carrier strike groups operating within a joint environment. The culmination of months of training, the exercise presented scenarios and situations the strike group crew may face while deployed.
JTFEX provided the opportunity for more than 8,000 service members to sharpen their skills, to practice operations, techniques, and procedures and to improve command, control and communication relationships. JTFEX featured nearly 40 participating units. The Carl Vinson Strike Group comprises Carrier Strike Group 1, USS Carl Vinson, CVW 17, DESRON 1, EOD Unit 3, USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Sterett (DDG 104), and USS Dewey (DDG 105).
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) 09 September 2014. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, consists of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) with embarked Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 and Destroyer Squadron 1, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), along with guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Sterett (DDG 104), USS Dewey (DDG 105), and elements of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 .
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, departed the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, April 16, after six months of combat operations over Iraq and Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While in the region, CVW 17 successfully flew 12,300 sorties, including 2,383 combat missions, landed more than 9,220 aircraft, and dropped 869 precision guided munitions totaling more than half a million pounds of ordnance.
"These operations contributed significantly to coalition efforts that have blunted the momentum of ISIS, and severely degraded their combat capability," said Rear Adm. Chris Grady, Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group commander. "Since combat operations began in October of last year, ISIS is no longer able to fight like an army but like a band of terrorists with a corrupt ideology."
While in U.S. 5th Fleet the ships of Destroyer Squadron 1 participated in numerous theater security cooperation events with several nations. Notably, the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104), and ships from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) PLA(N), conducted the bilateral "U.S.-China Counter-Piracy Exercise 15," in the Gulf of Aden, Dec. 11, 2014.
After months of demanding operations and long hours each and every day, Capt. Karl Thomas, Carl Vinson commanding officer, expressed his gratitude to the team for their mission-oriented focus. "Not once did this group of Sailors get complacent while performing the challenging tasks at hand," said Thomas. "They answered every call and performed exceptionally both onboard the ship and out on liberty. I've been thrilled to see great esprit de corps and teamwork across the ship and air wing team."
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, relieved the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group with CVW 17, April 13 as the Commander, Task Force 50 supporting the U.S. 5th Fleet. Theodore Roosevelt will take over support to Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations, combat operations in Iraq and Syria, and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group will operate in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations en route to its homeport of San Diego. "I am extremely proud of the men and women who have made sacrifices in support of our county and our Navy," said Grady. "We remain ready to respond to any and all challenges while operating in the 7th Fleet area of operations."
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG) returned to San Diego 04 June 2015, following a nearly 10-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.
The Carl Vinson CSG included the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1 with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105).
Aircraft from CVW 17 flew off to their respective bases June 3-4. The CVW 17 squadrons include the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22 "Fighting Redcocks," the VFA-113 "Stingers," and the VFA-94 "Mighty Shrikes" from Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California; the VFA-81 "Sunliners" from NAS Oceana, Virginia.; the Electronic Attack Squadron 139 "Cougars" from NAS Whidbey Island, Washington; the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116 "Sun Kings" from NAS Point Mugu, California; and the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 "Red Lions," the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron HSM-73 "Battlecats," and Fleet Logistic Support Squadron 30 from Naval Air Station North Island, California.
Over the course of the deployment, supporting strike operations in Iraq and Syria, CVW 17 successfully flew 12,300 sorties, including 2,382 combat missions and dropped more than a half a million pounds of ordnance against ISIS.
"The successful completion of such a lengthy deployment is a testament to the high quality of men and women who volunteer to serve in our United States Navy," said Rear Adm. Chris Grady, Carl Vinson CSG commander. "Whether supporting strike operations over Iraq and Syria or being ambassadors during overseas port visits, these Sailors represented our country with great distinction and honor. I'm extremely proud and honored to lead this team."
Also during the deployment, Carl Vinson CSG, CVW 17 and DESRON 1 participated in exercise Valiant Shield, a nine-day joint air, land and sea cooperation training between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army to develop tactics techniques and procedures in a joint environment in waters near Guam. In May the Vinson CSG participated in a bi-lateral training event with Malaysian military air and surface units.
"Now more than ever, the aircraft carrier is called to be the away team," said Capt. Karl Thomas, Carl Vinson's commanding officer. "Our team has fired on all cylinders for the past nine months and had the tenacity to answer the bell every time. It's now time for America's Favorite Carrier to return home."
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