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Carl Vinson Strike Group WESTPAC 18 Deployment
CVN-70 Carl Vinson
"Gold Eagle"

The USS Carl Vinson, based in San Diego, California, arrived in Vietnam 05 March 2018 for the first such port call since the end of the Vietnam War. The carrier made a stop at the central coastal city of Da Nang on the South China Sea, accompanied by a cruiser and a destroyer. This was the first port call by a US aircraft carrier to Vietnam since 1975. The United States had been criticizing China for its militarization of the South China Sea, including the construction of a runway, radar and other facilities at 7 outposts on reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands. Observers see the US port call as aimed at keeping China in check by demonstrating the deepening defense relationship between Vietnam and the United States.

The San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson strike group began a deployment to the region on 04 January 2018. The strike group includes Carl Vinson, Carrier Air Wing 2, USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and Michael Murphy of Destroyer Squadron 1, and guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57). With Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in Selected Restricted Availability maintenance, the Carl Vinson Strike Group was pinch-hitting in the Western Pacific on a short deployment less than a year from returning from the region.

Carrier Air Wing 2 includes more than 70 aircraft from the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, the "Blue Hawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 78), the "Bounty Hunters" of Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 2, the "Blue Blasters" of VFA-34, the "Kestrels" of VFA-137, the "Golden Dragons" of VFA-192, the "Black Eagles" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Gauntlets" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136 and the "Providers" of Fleet Logistic Support Squadron (VRC) 30 Det. 2.

In November 2017, ships and units completed a three-week sustainment training exercise off the coast of Southern California. The strike group demonstrated readiness for executing missions across all warfare areas after successfully conducting a series of at-sea drills, missile shoots and strike operations using a variety of naval platforms and weapons.

More than 6,000 Sailors assigned to Carl Vinson Strike Group ships and units departed the U.S. West Coast 4-5 January 2018 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. This deployment marked the second time the Carl Vinson Strike Group is operating throughout the Indo- Pacific region under U.S. 3rd Fleet's command and control. U.S. 3rd Fleet's control of ships and aircraft beyond the international dateline to India enables U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet to operate together across a broad spectrum of maritime missions.

The strike group became the first in recent history to demonstrate the command and control construct called 3rd Fleet Forward when units completed a six-month deployment in 2017. Ships deploying from U.S. 3rd Fleet to the Western Pacific traditionally shifted to U.S. 7th Fleet after crossing the international dateline. The 3rd Fleet Forward construct expands U.S. 3rd Fleet's control of ships and aircraft across the Western Pacific and beyond the international dateline to India, enabling U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet to operate together across a broad spectrum of maritime missions in region.

Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) arrived in Manila, Feb. 16, for a routine port visit during a Western Pacific deployment. More than 5,500 Sailors from both vessels will visit local attractions and participate in community service projects while in the Philippine capital. "We are just very thankful for the support we have from the Philippine government and the Philippine people," said Rear Adm. John Fuller. "We have a longstanding relationship and we want to continue to build on that."

The strike group was operating in the Indo-Pacific region to work with partners and allies, promote freedom of the seas, and enhance regional security. Carl Vinson is based in San Diego and Michael Murphy operates from Hawaii. Carl Vinson hosted top Philippine government and military officials, Feb. 14, before arriving. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Secretary Martin Andanar and others flew aboard the carrier with U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim.

By 01 March 2018 the group of ships led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and guided missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy was plying the South China Sea after a mid-February port call in Manila where some of the 5,500 crew members offered humanitarian aid. A U.S. Navy statement says the group came for, promoting freedom of the seas and enhancing regional security, as well as working with allies in the region. Thats not the message likely to be received by Beijing, which regards about 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer waterway as its own.

USS Carl Vinson was set to visit Danang 5-9 March 2018. The idea of a potential carrier stop surfaced when U.S. President Donald Trump met Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House in May 2017. Talks continued in August when Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich met Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Washington, and Mattis again mentioned expectations for a U.S. aircraft carrier stop in Vietnam during his visit to the country in January 2018.

Carl Vinson and its strike group completed a bilateral joint exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Western Pacific. The drills began on March 11th, and wrapped up 23 March 2018, in the South China Sea and waters near Okinawa. The operation included a variety of training, such as anti-submarine, air-defense exercises and replenishments-at-sea, to enhance the allies' inter-operability. It was the first time since last June this particular U.S.-Japan drill was carried out.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group completed a bilateral exercise in the Western Pacific with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), March 23. Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) conducted combined operations with Japanese helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182) in the South China Sea and waters near Okinawa, Japan. The operations began March 11 and included a series of training drills and Sailor-to-Sailor exchanges designed to enhance maritime interoperability between longstanding allies.

Japanese and U.S. Sailors also conducted anti-submarine and air-defense exercises as well as training drills for multinational command and control functions. The three vessels also steamed in close formation and completed several replenishments-at-sea together. During the bilateral exercise, Carl Vinson also operated jointly with the U.S. Marine Corps. Okinawa-based MV-22B Osprey aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 completed carrier deck landing qualifications aboard Carl Vinson and helped transport personnel to and from shore.




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